I gave birth to my daughter on October 5th, 2014. Growing up (despite what I always told my aunts!) being a wife and a mom was what I always wanted. I had no desire for secondary education, I just wanted a husband and babies. I grew up in a very large extended family and, even though there was no one else my age, there was always someone to talk to or play with. I wanted that. I wanted a lot of kids so that they could grow up with the amazing family I had. I got married 2 months after I graduated at 18, and had my first baby a few months before I turned 20. No one warned me how hard it would be.
I knew that having kids wouldn’t be a walk in the park. I knew from seeing my own parents struggle that having a family took an incredible amount of strength and that it was always worth it in the end. I always told myself, “this is what God made me for. He gave me a purpose and my purpose is to be a mom. I’ve got this”. Then I was hit with the dark days, the days no one talks about. No one told me how much I would struggle with seeing someone else hold my baby. No one told me that some days I would just lie in bed and cry all day. No one told me that I would feel numb and not want to eat. I started to feel worthless. I didn’t understand why God made me a mom if I couldn’t even get out of bed some mornings.
In January 2015 I realized that how I was feeling wasn’t normal. I wasn’t scared to talk to my doctor, in fact it was freeing. I felt a great release when I sat in the office and cried and told her everything I felt, how I couldn’t let my daughter out of my sight because as soon as I did my heart would race and my thoughts would go to a terrible place. Someone is going to take her. Someone will leave with her and I’ll never see her again. They’re going to drop her and she’ll get brain damage. No one will understand her cries like I do. People will see me without her and think I abandoned her. She’ll think I abandoned her. She’ll forget who I am. I felt like a freak, especially when people made light of it. No one understood why I didn’t want them to hold her and I couldn’t explain.
I told my doctor how I never wanted to leave my house and I would cry when people wanted to come over or have us over. I avoided any social interactions that I could and made excuses. At night when I would lie awake the exhaustion would take over and I wanted to harm myself. Some days I wanted to run away and never look back. I would look at my daughter and wonder who’s she was, and why she was “broken”. Anyone who knows me knows that this is completely opposite of who I really am.
Walking in to the doctors office I was so scared I would feel judgement, yet I felt nothing but peace. She gave me a hug and thanked me for asking her for help. She explained that I was doing nothing wrong and that depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and nothing I was doing wrong. I never knew until that day that more women suffer from PPD and PPA than is ever talked about. I didn’t know I wasn’t alone until that day.
My daughter is a year and a half now. I can’t say those dark days are over or that I don’t fear they will come back with this next baby. It does weigh heavily on my mind. I feel the anxiety, and the depression lingers. I don’t expect people to understand if they’ve never been through it and that’s okay. I know I’m not alone. I’ve realized that my daughter’s birth had a lot to do with why it’s hard to work through certain emotions, and I’ve realized that it will take time to break through that. What I can say without a doubt is that I’m not who I was, or who I have yet to become. God did make me to be a mom, even if he throws a few curves in the journey. It’s helped me to rely more on Him and not so much on myself, and it’s drawn me closer to Him.
The biggest thing I worked through was feeling alone. I felt helpless, like no one understood me, and that no one had felt that way before. If you’re reading this and you’ve ever felt any signs of depression (whether it be postpartum depression or depression outside of that), please talk to someone. Please know you are not alone and that you won’t be judged for how you feel. Depression and anxiety are something to be taken very seriously and if you have either one you are not a bad person or a bad parent. There is help, and you can break through it.