There are a few times in your life when you see yourself as you truly are, in that moment. Not as who you are inside, what fundamentally defines you, but objectively- when you are confronted with yourself and it takes your breath away. Sometimes it's a good thing, sometimes you are fortunate enough to see yourself in your best moments. But usually, it's the sort of wakeup call you need to fix something.
I have friends in recovery who have told me about moments like this, moments of clarity, when they say themselves drunk and realized how sick they were.
I have also had a moment like that, and it was when I knew I had postpartum depression, and I needed help.
Unlike many people, I have the moment on video.
I haven't found the strength in me to watch in the the last few years, not since I climbed out of the hole that is postpartum depression, but it haunts me. I am dancing with the girls, but I can't find the emotional strength to pretend to be happy anymore. I sink into the chair, and the children start asking me to stop crying, to keep dancing, to keep playing with them. All I could think was how I could just disappear- I could drive away and dissolve into nothingness, or drown in a lake, or park on a train track. And those thoughts pained me.
And then I remembered I was being filmed, and I knew I couldn't hide my depression anymore.
I didn't know what postpartum depression was like. Having experienced severe depression before, I assumed I knew everything I needed to about maternal mental illness, about treating depression and anxiety, and about myself and my mental health. I was so wrong.
I wish, I wish, I wish there had been a book somebody could have given me, stories of other women experiencing PPD, something I could read and relate to and understand, and know that I was experiencing something real. Something with a name, something I could treat and make better. I wish there had been something I could have held in my hands that wasn't a pamphlet about drugs I wasn't prepared to think about taking, or about the benefits of breast feeding or cold, clinical talk about hormones and altered brain chemistry. I wish somebody could have told me stories, true stories, to let me know I wasn't so horribly, painfully alone.
Today that book exists, and I am humbled and honored and overwhelmed that I am a part of it. Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience is a thing of raw beauty. Today is its release date- today you can buy this book, and put it in the hands of somebody you might think needs it. Today women desperate to feel connected to their lives and to other human beings can read it, and they can do what I couldn't. They could see how very real their feelings are, how very true, how very valid, and they can be empowered by that information to seek help.
Because help is out there.
I am so grateful I can play a part in making sure other women like me can find it.
Read more about mental illness here: Five Traumatic Movies That Will Make Your Children Better People
Read my latest post here: The Truth About My Marriage Ultimatum
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