Through the Looking Glass
Postpartum Depression is a season, I tell myself. It's a journey. There's no set time of how long it will be, how long it will take until someone is back to "normal".
PPD isn't like a stomach bug, where one day you have it and the next day you don't. It's a process. One day, you have a moment where normal shines through. I had that this weekend and it was like coming up from underwater for a breath of air. For a few moments, in a few situations, I felt alive again. The slip into PPD was so gradual and blended in with sleep deprivation that I don't know when it started. It crept up on me.
But feeling better was clear - I suddenly didn't feel stuck, I suddenly could handle moments that would have overwhelmed me the day before. I cleaned the house and got my hair cut and went to Target. I played with my babies in bed, reading to one while nursing the other, and had lunch ready when my Kindergartener got home from school. I really hoped that I was better, that I was putting PPD behind me.
And then I felt anxiety grip my heart. I felt hopeless. I felt angry, out-of-character angry. Was I just not cut out to be a mom? Was I done with PPD and my old normal, and instead left with a new normal? A normal where I would just be constantly overwhelmed, irritated and incapable?
And then I remembered that breath of air, that moment I felt better just days before. And as if peering through the looking glass, my past showed me my future. I will have more good moments. And slowly those good moments will blend into each other, weave around and over the pains of PPD until they are but a memory. Postpartum depression can often feel like drowning, drowning in a sea of emotions that feel alien to you, that don't feel like your own. And swimming out of the darkness is a series of tumbling under the waves, coming up for air, and going back under.
When I finally make it out, I won't be back to my old normal. I think motherhood and postpartum depression will have changed me for good; it will shape me. I will never be the woman I was before. But the woman that will emerge from this will be stronger, more confident and a better version of herself. Postpartum depression will make us stronger if we allow it. We will be stronger not only for ourselves and our family, but we will also be stronger for each other. We will be strong enough to lift other women up. We will have the hearts to share and be vulnerable, so that others do not feel alone.
Postpartum depression does not have to be dark and lonely. If we talk about it, share our stories - we can share hope.
God is always working things together for our good (Romans 8:28). The difficulties that we endure can shape us, if we allow them, into a better version of ourselves. They can create in us a compassion, an insight into the hurt others are enduring. My prayer is for all the other mamas who have been or are going through postpartum depression, that they may be a light into the lives of mamas who think they are in darkness. That you will find peace knowing that God has his hand in your life, that He wants to use your PPD for good in your life, and the lives of others.
Join me, share with me. Use your struggle to be a light for others. Let other women know they are not alone. Use the hashtag #ThisIsPPD on Instagram to connect with others.