It’s been a decade, 10 years, and still on this date every year I think about it, the day I admitted myself into the hospital for severe Postpartum Depression and Anxiety. Every year I would cry. The last few years, I got angry. None of the years did I listen to my therapists (last and current) and actually focus on how far I’ve come instead of how forgone I was. I focused too much on “Why me?” or “It isn’t fair” all the while knowing life isn’t fair. I didn’t grow up in some naive protective bubble.
Many tears have dripped down my cheeks. I stir up memories of having a panic attack in the ER. I visualize the days, even weeks, leading up to this moment. I never wanted to experience this. I never wanted to hate my daughter. I never wanted to contemplate running away. I never wanted to think of myself as unworthy, a disgrace. I never wanted to cause pain to my husband and parents. I did though and I carried all that guilt, that blame, that shame, with me on this day for the last 10 years.
The anger I had toward myself would revisit me on this date every year. The anger I had because I was given this experience set in only the last year. The anger that because of the Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, the dream of a larger family ceased to exist. I would no longer have my two, three, four kids I planned I would since childhood. The anger that because I suffered this, I missed a typical postpartum experience… being that doting mother who adored being around her baby, rocking her, singing to her. The anger that I missed almost 2 weeks of her life because I was in the hospital.
This year, though, I think it is finally time for a change. Time to not dwell so much back to that moment in time. Time to sit with the thoughts and feelings for only 10 minutes max and move on. Time to focus on the good that came from my experience:
1) I got the help I so desperately needed… even if I couldn’t see it at the time. I’ve dwelled on the lost time, the hate I had for myself and this little baby that took away my life. But, where would I be if I never went into the hospital? Would I have run away, contemplated suicide, or worse, took my life like so many other women? With the hospital stay, I got to focus on getting myself better and I did.
2) My daughter and I have a great relationship. Years I agonized the fact that because I missed two weeks of her life we would never have a tight bond or she would use that time lost against me. I also worried that she would despise me for once hating her. None of the above happened. In fact, she appreciates my honesty and knows how much I love her now (to infinity and beyond, forever & always).
3) I am not alone as I thought. Ten years ago resources in this area were limited. The hospital, my psychiatrist and therapist were not trained to deal with a focus on postpartum. The internet was not what it is now with social media and information. I thought I was alone. Feeling alone is the worst thing to ever feel. The isolation, the lack of hope. Turns out, there is a whole community of us who have experienced Postpartum Illnesses.
4) I get to help and advocate for others. Once I discovered this community, I wanted to give back. I wanted to let others know they were not alone and they should never feel like they were. I wanted to be a friendly ear, a warm hug, a trustworthy soul. I became a voice for thousands of others who fear(ed) speaking up.
After 10 years, I am finally focusing on how far I have come!