That’s how I felt, that’s what I had become. Postpartum depression wasn’t just being sad. The anxiety I developed didn’t revolve around small fears. OCD didn’t present itself in a funny way. It was raw, all of it.
The overwhelming sadness I felt took my breath away. At times I thought would never be able to inhale deeply again. The anxiety was crippling. Small fears I had never even recognized suddenly became unscalable mountains. The obsessiveness attached to my fears was beyond my control. I couldn’t stop the thoughts. My need to obsess over the thoughts and search for meaning behind them became automatic and unrelenting.
I didn’t have a “safe space.” When your mind is sick, there isn’t anywhere to run. There’s no refuge from the storm. There’s no quiet place to assess and recharge. There’s only deafening thoughts. Constant chaos. Debilitating fear.
I felt broken. Shattered. Ruined.
There was no escape. I felt like nothing could ever fix me. I physically couldn’t stop the thoughts, so how would I ever overcome them?
I was so scared. What if the only way to stop the thoughts was to act on them? At one point, the only way I could calm down enough to go to sleep was to tell myself I would hurt myself before I ever hurt my kids. That isn’t a healthy way to think or behave, but it’s where I was. It was my reality.
I wasn’t shattered though, I was just an incomplete puzzle. I had to seek out the pieces and help that I needed in order to be whole again. Recovery was a lot of trial and error. I tried things that didn’t work and became discouraged. I found things that did work and had hope. I became impatient with recovery and backslid. I saw how far I’d come and vowed to keep going.
When my life hit the fan, I was brought to my knees. I would have given anything to make it stop, but the exact thing that I felt would somehow kill me gave me an amazing amount of strength once I overcame it. Not only did postpartum depression not shatter me, it made me better. The thing that I didn’t believe I would ever recover from is the very thing that made me a better person today. I wasn’t a bad person before, but the amount I have grown and changed since experiencing it is only something that would have happened if I went through it.
Without the dark times, it is hard to see the brightness of the good times. If I hadn’t suffered so long and hard, I would have never understood others who do. I couldn’t have developed the compassion for those with mental illness unless I had experienced it. I would never have believed so strongly in breaking down stigmas attached to mental illness and medications/therapy needed to treat people with them.
Before postpartum depression, I thought I “wasn’t the type of person” who would ever need therapy. I was fine. I didn’t need medication, I had a brain with complete control over my thoughts and emotions. None of that was true though. We are all flawed. Everyone has their own “Everest” in life. There are all things we don’t think we are strong enough to overcome, only to come out the other side with greater understanding and the courage to help others.
To those that much is given, much is expected. I have been given the gift of healing from postpartum depression. I promised myself and God that if I made it through, I would help others. It took more work than I ever realized and greater faith than I knew I had, but I did come out the other side. I want other people to see how far my rock bottom was, not to discourage them, but to show how completely hopeless I was (and how far I’ve come).
I don’t want others to let postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD shatter them. All is not lost. There is help and hope. Once you heal and the puzzle is complete, you will see that the new, complete person you’ve become outshines the person that you were before.