YOU Matter, Mom
“Moms throughout history have done this just fine, why am I struggling?”
“I am not cut out for this. I am not a good mom.”
“I just can’t do this. I’m never going to be able to do this.”
“Something is really wrong with me and no one will understand.”
We can feel so confused and alone in motherhood. So many expectations are thrown on us, but truly the most dangerous expectations are those we set for ourselves. Our belief that we’re somehow less of a mom or less of a person if motherhood doesn’t start out exactly as we had imagined. We believe asking for help is a weakness. We feel shame for even wanting to ask.
The recent suicide of young mom Jennifer Huston in Oregon (pictured above) once again has me thinking about how isolated moms often feel, and how misunderstood postpartum mental illness truly is. So often family members are shocked after a loss like hers. They didn’t see it coming. They just saw a young woman dealing with the normal stress of motherhood. Yes of course, motherhood is hard but postpartum depression in entirely different. And, you can’t necessarily tell someone is suffering just by looking at her.
I get so heartbroken when I see another life lost. A family suffering. More children who won’t get to know their beautiful mother. I don’t know her story, and I don’t know yours, but I want you to know that your story does not have to end a tragedy.
Depression is real.
Postpartum mood disorders are real illnesses that need professional medical treatment. It’s not all in your head. It’s not a weakness. It’s not something you’ve done wrong. It just happens, like diabetes or cancer. And it happens to many, many women all over the world.
We’re actually in very good company. School teachers, executives, stay at home moms, even doctors and therapists have themselves suffered from postpartum mental illness. And they have also successfully recovered.
Do you know in your heart something is wrong? You do not have to suffer in silence.
The first step is reaching out for help. Maybe that sounds simple or maybe it sounds scary, but you have no idea how empowering it is to actually say the words “I am struggling. I need help.” I did it via an email to my husband.
Please try to let go of the guilt and shame you may be feeling. Saying the words takes away some of their power over you. Find a trusted friend or family member, or if you’re struggling to trust someone you know in real life enough to talk to anyone, there are anonymous resources that I highly recommend.
If you’re on Twitter, try tweeting at the hashtag #PPDChat. This is a peer support group and is actually one place I reached out after the birth of my daughter Ellie.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please know you are not alone. I’ve been there and I can tell you there is always hope and you can find help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a great resource: 800-273-TALK (8255) or chat online 2pm to 2am EST at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/LifelineChat
And, to learn more about what you may be going through, visit Postpartum Progress, the world’s most widely read blog about perinatal and postpartum mood disorders. This is info in real mama talk, not medical speak. There is also a private form at http://www.postpartumprogress.com/postpartum-progress-private-forum
As a PPD survivor and mental illness warrior, Cristi has serves on the Board of Directors for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Washington State, and on the editorial team for Postpartum Progress.To read more from Cristi, head on over to Motherhood Unadorned.