Today is the last day of #MaternalMentalHealthWeek and I’ve joined with some amazing mothers to share our mental health journeys. ♥️ Feel free to tap through each name to read our stories on my Instagram.
*trigger warning* 1 in 5 people suffer from a mental illness and I am 1. Here I am. In my typical state- messy bun, big t shirt, no makeup. Unfiltered, unedited, just me. It’s how I’m most comfortable. I’m feeling pretty good these days, but it hasn’t always been that way. I suffered from severe postpartum anxiety… but not just that, at one point it was postpartum psychosis.
At 18 months postpartum I finally started to feel like myself again. Yes, it lasted that long unfortunately. I still struggle with anxiety and OCD but it’s WAY more manageable than what I endured after having my third daughter. I’m going to touch on my journey with PPA and psychosis.
I wasn’t getting any sleep… I was surviving on a choppy 2-4 hours of sleep, usually around 2 or 3 hours a night. At my 6 week follow up appointment, I answered honestly when they asked if I felt like dying. My doctor told me I should get help with that… (gee thanks). I googled “can I die from a lack of sleep” on multiple occasions. My thoughts raced from one extremely sick scenario to the next. I couldn’t sleep, I just stared at my baby to make sure she was breathing.
I didn’t want anyone holding her, I was extremely anxious when we gathered for big family dinners and I found myself in the car heavy breathing on multiple occasions because I couldn’t stand being around others. One time I just got up and left right before we sat down from dinner at my mother in law’s house. I left TJ, Paisley and Winnie there… just drove home because I couldn’t stand to be there another second.
Around 6 months old, Olive got RSV and was hospitalized and things only got worse when we got home. I obsessed over her safety. I didn’t want visitors, I wanted to be alone but at the same time I was SO isolated… I wanted to abandon ship, just run away. I felt extreme guilt because I JUST. WANTED. OUT. I couldn’t understand why I wanted away from my favorite people in the world, my sole purpose for living in the first place.
Every night I would pace around the living room, hyperventilating, seething with anger towards my (very supportive) husband. I’d pick fights with him so I could direct this rage at someone. I got so mad one night, in the middle of the night I screamed at the top of my lungs and kicked a box of diapers around the living room as hard as I could.
I was someone else. I hated how I felt. I just wanted to be happy. I had so much to be thankful for but I was so mad at everyone and everything. I laid on the kitchen floor and cried many times telling my husband I needed to get out. Other times I was blank, no emotion. Straight up scary, just repeating over and over “I need out. I can’t do this anymore.” I distanced myself from friends, church, basically everything that made me happy. In the midst of it all I kept telling myself, “I shouldn’t be like this, I just have to do better, I just need to do xyz to feel better.” None of those things ever helped. I had little moments of “good” times throughout that year that I clung to with my life just to survive. I know hormones played a very large role in my despair. I am now getting more sleep, forcing myself to take time away from home just for me and plan to link back up with my psychologist when this pandemic eases.
I think back and I cry at how dark things were, I cry because I’m so thankful I survived it. Nowadays, I can laugh again. I can feel genuine joy and happiness. I look forward to time spent with the friends that stuck around, and quite honestly, no one knew how bad things really were because I was so withdrawn. This is really my first time sharing. But I feel okay again. I wanted to share this very painful time in my life because I feel like someone, somewhere out there may be able to relate. I want you to know you’re not alone and you will not feel like this for the rest of your life. I promise you. Please seek help. See a psychologist. Take “you” time. Do what you need to do to survive. Cling to the little joys and never stop doing things for yourself. Things WILL be better and you’ll look back and be so proud of yourself!!!
If you’re struggling with ANY mental illness, please don’t hesitate to reach out!