Am I okay?

It’s okay to not be okay. That little phrase has become my mantra this year.

I don’t have an exact timeline but around 6 months postpartum I just started to feel off. The best way I can describe it is that it felt like a heavy rain cloud hung over me, weighing on me. I felt like a stranger in my own body. My mind felt like a maze and hitting wrong turns and dead ends had me exhausted. I knew I had everything I wanted, yet I felt a hole. That made me feel worse, how could I be so ungrateful?

I love being a mother. I love the journey it’s taken me on, the new world it has opened up to me, and the purpose it gives me. I loved breastfeeding my baby for 9 months (wishing I went longer, there’s still days where I have regrets) and plan on doing it all over again when we decide to have another baby. I have loved this rare chance to stay home with my baby for her entire first year, minus a 3 week stint we had where I went to work and she went to daycare pre stay-at-home-order.

The first 5 months of postpartum life were dreamy, Walker is such a good baby and we had a great routine going. Breastfeeding was going well for us and I was happy taking care of her and working, waiting out the pandemic and expecting things to return to normal soon.

Then, it was like something changed inside me. I would wake up feeling overwhelmed and it would last for most of the morning. I cried all the time. Over the littlest things. My sweet husband was so helpful and just wanted to make me happy, and that hurt me too. I knew he couldn’t fix this. After a few conversations with my doctor, I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety and depression.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of postpartum anxiety and depression to me meant that you weren’t bonding with your baby, and you didn’t enjoy being a mom. I also thought postpartum symptoms began much earlier than 6 months. It was a little shocking of a diagnosis because I do think of myself as a happy person overall, but in recent months I’ve learned so much more about postpartum mental health and believe it’s important for everyone to be aware of the symptoms and red flags of mental health issues in themselves and their loved ones.

The biggest things I noticed as red flags when I began feeling off were:

I hated waking up to pump or nurse but I loved breastfeeding. It was because I wasn’t sleeping. Walker was sleeping through the night, at 6 months old, bless her tiny soul. I would cry for hours trying to get some sleep, knowing she’d be up for the day in a few short hours and I’d have to be on my mom game.

I was obsessed with her schedule, and wouldn’t leave her for more than 2-3 hours because I wanted to be able to nurse her. I tied myself down so strictly, and it isn’t how I function.

I felt like I had to do it all. It didn’t help that besides Cams parents, and a few of my friends, we don’t have anyone to babysit. My friends have only babysat because they’ve offered, and I’m so grateful for that. I am not good at asking for help, but having friends offer has helped me heal. It’s also a pandemic so I’m not comfortable leaving her with a lot of people.

Other major factors to not feeling myself…

Work had furloughed me at the start of the pandemic and brought me back after a few weeks. Ultimately, I was laid off at the end of June.

My part time job also laid me off. I LOVED my part time job. I had spent the last 4 years doing the marketing and social media for a popular restaurant in the area. That one made me sad.

Our wedding planning was also at a halt because we weren’t sure how to proceed. Bridal shower wasn’t even getting talked about and the bachelorette planning started to fizzle out and I officially cancelled. Then, the wedding was postponed.

Opening up is scary but something this chapter in my life has taught me is that opening up allows others to support and help you. It’s not easy to open up and ask for help. Why do we feel shame when we aren’t feeling our best mentally, but have no problem letting family, friends, and coworkers know when we are feeling physically ill? It’s a funny thing, really.

I’ve been seeing a counselor for a couple of months and it has made a huge difference. I’ve accepted that I can’t control a lot of the things going on in my life right now, and that’s okay. I’m learning to be kinder to myself. Friends and nature have played a huge role in feeling myself again. I’ve spent more time than ever on hikes with my dogs and on trails with the baby, and that’s been heaven for me. Having supportive friends that showed up consistently and checked in made a difference.

These days I am doing much better, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t hard moments. The reason I know I truly am doing much better though, is because there are just hard moments. Not hard days. Moments. And that’s okay with me. If I need to be alone, I do that. If I need some time with the dogs, I’m lucky enough to have people help with Walker so I can take that time. If I need to unplug for a few days, I do that. Having these feelings doesn’t make me less of a mom, a woman, or anything. I’ve had this post in drafts for weeks, because sharing this is pretty frightening to me. But every time someone opened up to me when I was feeling down, it made a difference.

Hoping that sharing this will help someone feel less alone, because these types of stories made me feel less alone. Let’s be more open to each other, and more supportive.

One response to “Am I okay?”

  1. πŸ’•πŸ’•

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