So many new moms struggle with their mental health postpartum, and I only hope I am able to provide some honest encouragement by sharing my maternal mental health awareness story.
“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” — Brené Brown
My hands are shaking as I write this.
I know I’ve shared about my mental health before, but the nitty-gritty is scary to talk about. It feels embarrassing, shameful. I worry people will call me attention-grabbing. I worry about being judged.
My only hope in sharing my story is to support the maternal mental health awareness initiative and provide support for mamas who have or are experiencing the same things I went through.
Thanks to the encouragement from a group of fellow moms, I’m opening up about my postpartum depression and suicidal ideation. Because it’s real, it’s dangerous, and we need to talk about it.
After I had H, I felt like I was okay. But I wasn’t. I wasn’t sleeping. I was anxious about any and everything. I was exhausted from trying my hardest to show up and pretend like I was fine. But I did show up.
After J, I sunk. I got pregnant with him so quickly after my first miscarriage that I never had time to process. I was detached from the entire pregnancy. Worried about getting too close. Once he was born, it got worse. I was terrified he’d stop breathing in his sleep. He never slept, so I never slept. I was alone with the kids in a new town and constantly on edge.
I was angry, I was sad. I was punishing myself with unhealthy coping mechanisms. I would hide in the closet and cry until I felt numb.
I would dream about going out to get groceries by myself and wonder what it would be like if I just let go of the wheel. Would I feel anything? Would anyone care?
I don’t think I was actively suicidal, I just didn’t want to be there, here, anywhere. Existing was exhausting. I didn’t see the point.
Showing up got harder and harder.
The pregnancy before R was traumatizing, or rather ended traumatically. I felt everything and nothing.
Z found me in the closet one day, catatonic. I didn’t even notice him at first; I was there, but not *there*. Apparently I was crying. I told him I just wanted to disappear.
After I had R, I was drowning in my depression. I didn’t want to leave the house. I hated myself with such intensity.
Therapists waiting lists were months long. Months.
I found one I really liked, but she didn’t accept insurance.
$500 for the first appointment
$350 each session, once a week.
Insurance, 4 months later, would send me a check for $50 for each session as “reimbursement”
Now I wasn’t just an emotional and physical burden, I was a financial one as well.
It would be better for everyone if I just left.
I was anxious, I was angry, I would snap, I would cry, I would blink and be at H’s school, not even remembering how I got there.
It was too hard, everything.
I was trying, but nothing was working.
I hated it, hated me, hated everything.
I just wanted to disappear.
And some days, I still do.
91% of moms in the perinatal and postpartum period (up to one year after birth) experience suicidal ideation. This is why we need to talk and spread maternal mental health awareness. The highest risk of suicide is between 9 and 12 months postpartum. Maternal suicide is the leading cause of postpartum death in multiple developed countries, and possibly the US- however, our country does not report maternal suicide rates. It’s important to know these facts, but more important to understand that this is a preventable crisis. We can all bring our stories into the light to help reduce stigma and spread awareness. Tap the hashtag on Instagram, #itdidnotruinher to read more stories spreading maternal mental health awareness.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the PSI warmline at 800-944-4773. If you are in crisis, text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the US at any time. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can also be reached at: 800-273-8255.
You are not alone. You matter. And I am happy you are here.