To The Mama With PPD or PPA

Dear Mama with Postpartum Depression or Anxiety,

When my daughter was just a few weeks old, family members and friends would ask me if they could hold her. I was so relieved that someone wanted to hold her, I would happily hand her over...but the second that she was in someone else's arms, I would be flooded with anxiety and visions of them dropping her on the cement patio, or accidentally banging her tiny, fragile skull into the corner of the table. I could see the blood running from her tiny head, and it sent waves of panic through me. I was terrified they were going to accidentally kill my newborn.

I was so confused because I wanted physical space between myself and my daughter, but I was even more afraid once I actually got it. There was no winning. So I sat there, frozen as people held her, and unable to tolerate it for long. When my mother-in-law would urge me to take some time to lie down and rest, I couldn't. I was consumed with what was happening in the next room. It took more energy to will myself to lay in bed than it did to hold her.

A few months later, I put my bopping daughter in her excersaucer, this big, ridiculous contraption where she could bounce and spin, and I started on dinner. I was cutting carrots when I was suddenly overcome with fear that I might cut off her finger. She was no where near me, but I struggled to complete the task of cutting these carrots because I could swear, they were her fingers. I knew that something was deeply wrong, but I was so horrified by own thoughts that I couldn't bring myself to tell anyone about them.

Each day when I opened my eyes, it didn't matter how much I had slept, I was beyond exhausted. I was paranoid about people's intentions, and I was literally dizzy all the time. When my husband would leave for work, fresh panic would wash over me...what was I supposed to do all day long? I would lay on the floor and play with my daughter because I felt so dizzy that I sure I was going to pass out and drop her. I would watch the walls and I could swear they were narrowing in on me. I thought that perhaps they would crush us.

I would count the hours, sometimes the minutes, until my husband would arrive home. If he was late, I would begin nervously pacing, wondering why he was late...I would worry he was never coming back, or that he didn't want to be with me. Was he dead? Should I text him? Was I acting desperate? I felt desperate, but I was also desperate to hide it. Everyday when he would leave, I would trick myself into thinking that when he came home, I would somehow feel better, only to discover that I didn't feel better. And that devastated me freshly each day.

All of this was happening during a time when well-meaning people--people I loved and respected-- would look at my precious, beautiful baby and declare, "Isn't this the best time?" or tell me, "You are such a good mom." These complements served to further disjoint the experience that I was having on the inside because on the outside, I was smiling, and doing all the right things. But on the inside, I was secretly wondering what was wrong with me, and why I couldn't just "snap out of it." Why wasn't I happy?

I cried alone. I blamed myself, and even my husband. I hated people who told me how they enjoyed having babies. I thought I was defective because I wanted more puppies, but not more children. I worried that it would never end, and I felt robbed because I thought I was supposed to be happy. I thought that being a mom was going to be joyful and that I would be better at it. I felt enraged when people said, "you seem fine," because I was not fine, I was just good at hiding how utterly demoralized I was.

Why am I telling you all this, Mama? Because I don't want you to suffer as long or as hard as I did. I want you to read these words and if you recognize yourself in them, I want you to see that it's not normal, and it's not okay, and most importantly: that you can reach out for help. You can stop breastfeeding, or put your child in daycare and go back to work, or phone a friend or family member and schedule your damn breakdown. You can see a therapist or go to inpatient care if you need to. You are ALLOWED to reach out if the darkness is too much and too thick for you see your way out of. This happens to some Mamas.

I also want you to know that this doesn't make you a bad mother. It doesn't mean that you don't love your child. I know you love your baby, and you don't have explain that to anyone. This only means that something clinical and real is happening to you, and there is tangible help. And I want you to know, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for every second that you've lost because of this. It sucks, and there are some people who will not understand what you are going through, but I understand. I understand how robbed you feel by PPD or PPA, but I don't want you to lose hope because you have a lifetime with your baby. That is why you have to reach out NOW and ask for the help you need.

You can do this, Mama. There is help and there is hope. You are important and you matter. You don't have to bear the unimaginable weight of PPD or PPA alone. This Mama's got you, and I'm here to say,  I love you and I want you to tell someone. TODAY. Do it for yourself so you can be the Mama you need to be. Read someone this blog post, if it helps to explain what's going on for you. Read this through the tears you deserve to cry, and let them see how hard it is. Allow your strength to be in the breakdown because sometimes the strongest choice we can make is to stop being strong and let ourselves fall apart.

I love you, Mama.


Bossy Italian Wife

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