Let’s just be blunt and real. Society is often extremely unfair to mothers.
We are expected to be everything. We should be working mothers, but we should also be home with our children. Moms are supposed to take time for self-care, but too much time is selfish. We should be healthy, put together, and completely happy with motherhood.
Sometimes it’s all just too much.
Mental illness has often been a bit of a taboo subject to talk about. While I feel that it’s something that Millennials are kind of just throwing the door open on, there is still a lot of room to grow in this area. Especially when it comes to mothers.
When my oldest was born, my postpartum depression was bad ya’ll.
I’m talking like I often thought of opening the door and just walking away. Away from the rainbow baby that I wanted so badly and my partner, the love of my life.
I thought they would be better without me in their life and that I would be better not being a wife or mother. For quite a while, I bottled it up. Guilt and shame built up within that. I mean, what kind of mother was I to have those feelings? One day, I was at an appointment due to a clogged milk duct that was turning into mastitis when my son was about 8 weeks old, and it just came pouring out. Sobbing, I told my midwife that I was not okay.
She looked at me and asked me if I knew that it was okay to not be okay.
This, of course, made me cry even harder. In the depths of those dark feelings, it did not once feel like it was okay to not be okay. Instead of letting out the hurt, the shame, the pain, I kept wrapping fake smiles as if they were band-aids around my broken heart. Opening up to my provider was like I had opened the window after a rain shower when everything smells sweet and new. She connected me with medication and resources to talk to someone about my postpartum depression.
Within weeks, it was like I was a new person.
I was able to truly, deeply connect with my son for the first time since he was born. I began to delight in being a mother. I also knew I had the tools to deal when everything was not delightful.
That conversation with my midwife changed everything for me in regards to my mental health. Once the post-partum depression shifted into Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, etc, I still maintained a brighter outlook on my mental health. It didn’t get easier to have those conditions, but I no longer felt labeled as only those diagnoses. When my second son came along, I knew that if the depression came with it, it was okay to not be okay and to ask for help.
And that is what I want to say to any mother who is out there struggling. Who feels like they are not enough (or maybe you feel like you are too much!) The moms who believe that they are not being a good mother by working out of home, or the moms who maybe feel guilty for not enjoying being a stay-at-home mother. The moms who feel lonely, ashamed, guilty, sad.
It’s okay to not be okay. But know that someday you will be okay.
Local Resources for Mental Illness:
- Your Life Iowa
- Talk: 1-855-581-8111
- Online: YourLifeIowa.org
- Text: 855-895-8398
- Foundation 2 Crisis Center
- Talk: 319-362-2174 or 800-332-4224
National Resources for Mental Health:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- National Alliance on Mental Illness: 1-800-950-6264
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)- 1-800-662-4357
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