Being transparent about my own birth trauma and PPD has brought me close to many women in my tribe. What started off as chatting and support, developed into a beautiful concept shoot, and ended in some raw healing, timeless photos, and a deep friendship.
I’m infinitely grateful for my dear friend for sharing an intimate look at the darkest time of her life. Postpartum Depression is so taboo and equally under-diagnosed. We moms need resources. Exposure. Community. Sharing our struggles and real stories will aid in bringing attention to the maternal issues that are lacking support, such as PPD and birth trauma.
“I will be sharing a story about the darkest days of my life. I wish my story gives hope and comfort to someone who might be struggling in the same way. I believe that mental illness loves to lurk in the shadows. The more it is kept secret and in the dark, the more it grows. I want to bring my story to the light! I want my mental illness to scatter like roaches when the kitchen light is turned on!
My story doesn’t start the week or even the month that my baby was born. My story wasn’t like others I’ve read about. I think that’s why I felt so hopeless.
I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Rowan on March 4, 2015. His birth did not follow along the same lines as his three other siblings. He was delivered after 36 hours of labor with contractions no closer than 7 minutes apart. He was born into the water surrounded by so much love and light. We stayed in bed for a week and took it easy for the first month. I ate my placenta, rubbed oils on my feet, and I felt great. I thought I was out of the woods.
We past the fourth trimester when my husband Mike and I put our house on the market. We began looking at houses while keeping our own completely spotless. While looking at houses, I started to feel more and more anxiety. I struggled to walk to the second floor which made my heart race and gave me panic attacks. So I stopped walking up any stairs. The house we were trying to sell was two stories. I refused to go upstairs! I tried so hard to hide this ridiculous phobia that was beginning to emerge. My husband saw right through my crap and eventually had to carry me up the stairs so I could pack up the house. I was almost 29 years old, yet had to be carried like a baby. The anxiety started to get worse. It was hard to even leave the couch. I couldn’t go outside. If I went anywhere at all, it had to be with Mike.
I finally decided to go to a holistic doctor who my autistic son was also seeing. I changed my diet and became obsessed. All I thought about was what I ate. The doctor gave me supplements. I took them and when I didn’t feel a complete change after a week, I called her to give me something else. When all this was happening, I felt like I was barely treading water with my children. I had no connection with Rowan. He was a fussy baby. He loved to be held but refused to be worn in a carrier. It was a never-ending nightmare. I nursed him,hated every moment, and was counting down the days until we could wean.
After a move from hell, we finally got settled in our new home. I thought that my new home would change everything. It did not. I still struggled to connect with my baby. Why was I struggling so hard? I took more supplements. I obsessed over and controlled my diet even more. It was getting worse. I could not leave my house anymore. Going to the grocery store was overwhelming and would throw me into a full blown anxiety attack. I started to become hyper sensitive to everything. I could hear every noise. I could feel the lights shoot into my eyes like I was looking into the sun. It was exhausting. I would lay in bed and silently cry while my baby slept next to me. He would only sleep with a breast in his mouth and I hated him for it. I thought about running away, but I had too much anxiety and no money to run with. I thought about what would happen if I texted Mike to come home and went into the closet and took my own life. I thought my kids would be better off without me. I thought “I” would be better off without me. Mike would tell me how much he loved me, but I couldn’t believe him. I could not understand how someone could love me and want to be with me. These were the darkest days of my life and I didn’t even know it.
I was in a pit of shit and I felt like I couldn’t crawl out. I couldn’t escape. I couldn’t even see the light. I felt like I was going to be like this forever. I don’t know what changed. I don’t know what clicked. Maybe it was one thing or maybe it was everything. After suicidal thoughts, hating my own baby, and regression in my asthma, it changed. I started reading more which at the time I didn’t realize was self care. I let my heart be open to change. I started saying little mantras to myself. I started telling myself that I loved me. I didn’t. I figured I would fake it till I made it. I decided I was no longer going to be a victim. I cut out meat, dairy and gluten (had been gf for a year already) and added more fruits and veggies into my diet. Even with all my food restrictions, I started to have a different relationship with food. It wouldn’t be my everything. I would eat right because I wanted to nourish myself, but it would be progress and not perfection. I have adjusted my supplements and feel good with them. I am detoxing my liver and nourishing my body with magnesium and vitamin D. I see a chiropractor three times a week. I get cranial sacral done once a week. I get body work/therapy done once a month. Even with all of these things, I still needed to change my heart and my mind. I finally had to start believing that I was worth it. My life has meaning. I have not been put on this earth for no reason. I am enough. Right now… “