Deep Breath, and Let GO… The Truth About Postpartum Depression

post partum depression

I imagine that’s what the leaves say just before they decide to fall from the trees.

They don’t know what they are getting themselves into. They don’t know how it’s going to feel, what is going to happen, what the outcome will be. They just do it, because they know they have to. That’s what I am doing right now. I am writing this post, because I know I have to.

I read an awesome post today by Renegade Mothering. And a month or so ago I read an awesome post by a fellow yogi mama and friend over at The Householder’s Path. And after months of conversation with my very good friend here at Crinoline Logic…. and a little inspiration from none other than this song… I am finally ready to do this. Deep Breath, let it go.

I have struggled with depression for much of my adult (and young adult) life. It was at bay, and under control without the help of medication for several years, until I entered into the postpartum world. Now it is back, and like a needy child it is tugging at me every day.

I haven’t hidden the fact that for me transitioning into mamahood has been challenging. It’s challenging for all of us. But I have yet to talk openly about the dark side of mamahood. The dark feelings, thoughts, shame, guilt, anxiety, and utter exhaustion of depression. Mostly I haven’t talked about it, because I haven’t wanted to believe it was true.

I was depressed as a teenager. Broken up family, an eating disorder, panic attacks, suicidal aspirations, a hospitalization, the whole bit. I got through that period of time, with support from counselors, my parents, medication, my now husband, and yoga. When I was 21 years old I weaned myself off of anti-depressants and anxiety meds. I committed to my yoga practice and meditation, and never looked back. The tools I learned in yoga allowed me to keep the darkness at bay. I became a yoga teacher because I wanted to share these tools. I have been teaching and sharing yoga for over 5 years now, but I have never openly talked about why.

When Robin Williams recently committed suicide, I couldn’t say anything about it. I literally had no words, written, verbal, or otherwise. All I had was sadness, and a need to look away. I wanted to say how I understood, and yet didn’t understand. I wanted to say how I was angry, how we all need to do more for those with mental illness, how no one should have to suffer these thoughts alone. But I couldn’t. Because it is the nature of depression, to be alone, to suffer silently. Why?

I have been reading many of Brene Brown’s books lately. She is a researcher and writer on the topic of Shame. If you have not yet read anything by her, I suggest you start here.¬†The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Only because that’s where I started, and it hooked me enough to read more. basically she talks about how shame keeps us in our neat little boxes, isolates us, and makes us feel alone, when the truth is what we are experiencing (no matter what it is) is human, and others are experiencing it too, and there is no reason to go through it alone. But in order to come together, we have to let go of our fear of what others will think of us. We have to risk being vulnerable.

I never really realized I had postpartum depression. I went to see my doctor when my son was 9 months old and I was still unbelievably exhausted. I had him check my levels of everything. There had to be something I was deficient in. Vitamin D, B, Iron, Estrogen, something… he said everything was within the normal range. He asked my some questions, and before I realized that he was screening me, told me he thought I was depressed.

The word made my heart sink. Depressed? No. No, I’m not depressed, I’m just tired. And I’m not interested in things I would typically like because my life is taken over by a baby right now. And I’m struggling to get out of bed because I only slept 6 hours because this baby doesn’t sleep yet. And I can’t fall asleep at night because I’m worried about the ever growing pile of things that don’t ever get done because of this baby, and….

Fast forward 6 months. I’m still tired. I still find it difficult to motivate myself to do things that I know I will enjoy. I still struggle to get out of bed. I still struggle to fall asleep. I still don’t want to believe that I am depressed.

But it’s time. It’s time for us to talk about this. It’s time for me to stop being afraid of what you will think. It’s time for me be vulnerable, and brave, and authentic. This blog is not a mommy blog about what products I love. This blog is not a mommy blog about humorous daily anecdotes of my child’s life. This blog is not a DIY craft show. (Although someday maybe it will be). This blog is a blog about the challenges of motherhood. This blog is about real life. This blog is about being honest, and sharing stories. This blog is about the workings of the heart, the heart of a mama.

Yes, my heart hold sadness right now. Really, it holds a whole lot of confusion. It doesn’t know what is going to happen, what the outcome will be, how everything is going to feel. My heart since taking the leap into motherhood, has been careening down through crisp air waiting to land on something soft (hopefully), just as the leaves do each fall. And even though many times I am scared, and many times I question why on earth I thought it would be a good idea to take this leap, and many days are simply a struggle, I am still grateful to be here. Because along with this sadness, and along with the darkest feelings, my heart holds love, the purest, clearest, most radiant love. I chose this journey. I wanted deeply to walk this path. I would not take back a day of it. But finally I am ready to vulnerable, to be honest, to be completely me.

I am a mama. I struggle with postpartum depression. I am not alone. And neither are you.

post partum depression

Shadows and Light

Lake Reflection Final LR A

Sometimes there are days of sadness. Or tiredness. Or just quietness.

Sometimes there are days of reflection.

Sometimes there are days of anger, or irritability, or angst.

Sometimes there are days of wanting to scream, or throw something.

Sometimes there are scuffles, arguments, un-kind words.

Sometimes there are days that are not our best, are not our most appealing.

Sometimes there are days that we just want to put behind us.

All of these days are our teachers. All of these days have something valuable to show us.

Pain is our bodies way of moving us towards healing. If we listen, if we respond, if we make change.

I don’t always wake up loving the person I am, the way I look, act, feel, or speak. But I wake up. I wake up and keep going. I wake up and I rely on support, friends, partners, teachers. I wake up and I listen.

I want my children to always choose to wake up. To know that they don’t have to be happy every day. To know that not every day has to be fun, exciting, joyous. Some days are not. I want my children to be able to be present with those days. I want them to be able to be in those days, listening, learning, to and from themselves. I want my children to know that they can always lean on me for support.

I want my children to know that life is the most beautiful watercolor painting. The bright places, swirled on with easy strokes of a soft brush, the dark places stained into paper with effort, and purpose, both creating an interplay of shadow and light, both integral to the exquisite beauty.

Artist: Roy John Fuller
Artist: Roy John Fuller