Trigger Warning: Postpartum Depression
I’m not okay.
And that’s okay. The first step is accepting the fact you are not okay. Accepting you need help.
This month’s theme is about Acceptance and what it means to us. Weeks earlier, it would have meant something immensely different than what I think today.
At LYF, we care about you and your mental health. Self-love looks different every day, maybe even every second.
But what if your mental health gets so bad that you need outside help?
Well, I want to let you know you’re not alone. When I first started at LYF, I felt good about myself and where I was in life. I had made it over a huge hurdle of postpartum depression. I had made the conscious decision of coming off antidepressants.
Then life happened.
And that too is okay.
I do want to say that this time I was able to catch the fall before it could get even worse. This time around, my husband noticed what to look out for and helped me realize I needed a little bit more support. But I do know not everyone has the same support system, or, maybe, is at a different part of their self-care/self-love journey. So, there may be signs you’re not aware of before you notice you need support from loved ones.
Sadly, many of us don’t become aware of the signs until we’re in the thick of it. Sometimes, the signs could change; only one small action stays the same–which is easily bypassed because we believe it to be such a small thing that it falls through the cracks.
Accepting the fact I’m not okay has always been a struggle for me since I was twelve years old. At such a young age, I always felt that it was burdensome to tell people how loud the negative thoughts are in my head. The ache that forever lived in my heart. Even at twenty-eight, I still have trouble letting others know that the thoughts in my head are becoming too much to bear.
Too many times, I let people downplay my mental health, which detoured me from reaching out to the people who would truly be there for me. To this day, it’s still hard for me to confide in even my husband about my mental health because it’s hard to hear I need outside help (may it be antidepressants, therapy, or both).
I feel weak for admitting I need more than just exercise, clean eating, and sleep. One too many times, I would hear the judgment others have expressed to me, “well, I just workout and that makes me feel better” or “I know that feeling too, but I don’t think yours will ever be bad enough to make you feel like you’re better off dead.”
Or, “you’re crazy.”
But now I have little eyes and ears looking to me for support and guidance. I don’t want to let my negative emotions affect my relationship with my son. I want to be the mom he deserves. Right now that looks like a mom getting the help she needs in order to be mentally healthy and stable. That means every day is going to look different and be different.
I want you to know, dear reader, that you aren’t as alone as you may feel. I know it’s hard to reach out to even the closest person you may trust with your entire being. But working up the courage to reach out to someone will always be beneficial and the right thing to do no matter how the other person reacts.
It’s difficult to be blindsided by a close friend or relative who doesn’t know how to react in a situation where you may just need them to listen. Especially when it feels like you’re bearing your soul. You’re not being too sensitive when you feel genuinely hurt by their reaction. You don’t need to drop the person either; maybe they have some things in their life they have to come to terms with and don’t have the mental capacity to help you.
That’s okay. Not everyone is going to be your support system or foundation.
There will be a person or two who will be able to help you. They may not be in your life now, but they will get there. It’s crushing and lonely when you may not have the support you need. Reach out to a friend, as they may be in the same boat.
And if you’re not ready to let someone in that intimately, you don’t have to be super specific. You could start by saying, “I’m not doing well” or “My needs aren’t being met.”
As long as you take a small step into reaching out, I think you are doing your best.
It’s hard to be there for others when you’re trying to pour from an empty cup.
A lot of moms out there will understand when I say postpartum is hard. Everyone is different and their postpartum journeys may not result in postpartum depression (PPD), but for a lot of us, it does. I’m not trying to worry new mothers, but I want to bring awareness to how common PPD is. I want other mothers to know they aren’t alone.
If you’re not aware, baby blues and PPD differ from each other immensely. The mood swings are there and you’re so exhausted from sleep deprivation that there is no motivation to care for yourself after taking care of your baby. But it should only last up to two weeks. Any more than that, and with the following symptoms, you may have PPD:
1. Feeling hopeless and sad
2. Like you’re not doing a good job as a mom
3. Not bonding with your baby
4. Your overwhelming despair makes it hard to care for your baby
5. Suffering from anxiety/panic attacks.
Not everyone checks the entire list off, but if you find yourself just checking off even one, please talk with your primary doctor.
I dreamed and prayed for my son, and I felt robbed by my mental health when I realized I wasn’t enjoying my baby the way I wanted to. It wasn’t my fault. I was a first-time mom and had no idea what to look out for. Besides talking with my doctor about medication for PPD/A, I have some resources I think everyone can benefit from.
2. My favorite Instagram accounts for parenthood and mental health:
@psychedmommy psyched mommy and happy as a mother have free masterclasses
3. Meditation: This could be just five minutes of breathing and clearing your mind. Or, if you need some help, try this guided meditation from YouTube.
4. Taking a walk: Just walking outside and getting fresh air can help calm your mood. Try walking around your neighborhood for five minutes, then maybe another five minutes until you can work your way up to a thirty-minute walk.
5. Get some vitamin D: take a supplement or foods like: salmon, egg yolk, and tuna. Or just sitting outside (sunscreen and sunglasses for protection) for a few minutes can help. This could also be achieved by your walk.
6. Ask for help and take it: It’s hard to ask for help straightforwardly, but you’re not meant to do everything on your own. “It takes a village” came from somewhere.
7. Ask your doctor about starting medication: I know this can be hard for a lot of people, and it can be scary, but sometimes the chemical imbalance is too much. It’s okay to have this type of help even for just a few months.
It can be challenging to admit that your mental health has taken a nosedive and uncomfortable to let others know about it, but the first step is acceptance. Just because you accept the fact that you’re not okay doesn’t mean you’ve given up. You’re just aware of the situation and have the chance to get the help you need and deserve.
I’m not okay, and that’s okay. I’m taking it one step at a time. Every day is going to be different. I’m trying not only for myself but for the people around me. My son and husband deserve me. I’m good enough. It’s just going to take a little bit for me to grasp the beautiful truth.
So, reader, what does acceptance mean for you?
Also, if you haven’t heard it today, I care about you and want you to be here. I appreciate you.
About the Author:
Selina Wells is an aspiring author and Southern California native. She uses her life experiences of growing up fast in a small California town and her passion of escaping into the pages of others to propel her own creative expressions. Her work “That Girl” can be found in the creative arts journal Beyond Thought. When she isn’t reading and writing, she is chasing after her two year old son with her husband, Alan. Currently, Selina is working on her first novel. Follow her journey on Instagram @thatgirl_selinas.