Post Partum Depression

Hello Loves,

I originally wrote this post for Mental Health Week on my first blog. Then I re-shared it on my previous website in honour of Bell "Let's Talk" Day. And now I am sharing it here because it is one of the most important things I've ever written and I believe so much in the importance of sharing the shit out of it!

So, without further ado, I would like to share what I have learned through my own journey with post partum depression.

1. Depression struck me with literally no warning.

I took B in for his two month check up and had to fill in a little questionnaire that was blatantly screening for post partum blues/depression. I can distinctly remember feeling proud as I cheerfully rolled through each often do you cry? Never. Do you feel supported at home? Absolutely. how often do you feel overwhelmed? Never.

And on and on.

I aced that questionnaire.

But if I had been asked the same set of questions that evening? I swear to god they would have checked me in somewhere.

It was that quick. Like a light switch was simply flicked off; Kael in the light, Kael in the dark.

2. "Depression" is an absolute misnomer.

If someone had asked me to describe a depressed person before my own experience, I would have used words like "sad" or "unhappy".

And now? Well, those words would describe my depression on one of its cheerful days!

For me, depression showed up as the most intense, dark, internal anger. It showed up as a complete disconnect from anything and everything in my life; a disconnect from my own soul. It showed up as self-loathing, shame and a blinding sense of failure. It showed up as things so suppressed and emotions so foreign and feral that I still don't even know what words to put to them. It showed up as the most malignant, all consuming, darkness I have ever witnessed.

So, yeah, people suffering depression are far more than just sad. Lesson learned!

3. Depression, and all forms of mental illness, must be normalized and accepted.

When B was six months, four months into my fight with depression, I finally went and saw my doctor. And, with the biggest lump in my throat ever, I confessed that I thought I might be struggling with depression.

I confessed.

Like a child who had been caught doing something wrong.

I mean, what the hell?

If I had gone to the doctor because I thought I had cancer, it would have been all out in the open. Probably my mom or sister or husband would have accompanied me to the appointment. For sure I would have already discussed my concerns with everyone in my tribe. And I know that in no way would I have felt ashamed of myself for getting sick.

But, no. Not with mental illness.

Mental illness still carries a stigma. A sense of shame.

Mental illness is still thought of as something that we have chosen.

All of this is messed up and needs to change.

4. Acknowledgement and acceptance were key to my healing.

When I confessed my fears to my doctor, do you know what she did?

She smiled at me and said "ok". She told me that one in seven women struggle with post partum depression and that she thought the statistic was probably much higher but that a lot of women don't come forward. She told me that it was an illness; that I was sick and not just a spectacularly horrible human being {which was what I had been telling myself}.

And just like that I could feel this weight lifted off of my shoulders.

I still had another couple of months of extreme lows ahead of me, but I was also starting to see a few normal days because I was a normal person with a normal illness.

5. Healing took a looooooooong time and a lot of work.

I can honestly say that  it took three full years to finally be able to say that I was well and truly free of depression.

Sure, my actual depression only lasted 6 months. But what I like to call my "depression hangover" lasted another two and a half years.

For two and a half years I raked myself over the coals, even with my knowledge that I hadn't chosen to get sick. I beat myself up with guilt and shame. I lived in absolute fear that I had ruined my kids.

All I can say about this, and to anyone else who is there themselves, is don't do this.

6. Post partum depression, three years after the fact, turned out to be an absolute gift.

Yes, it took some major time to pass and the gift of hindsight, but post partum depression is indeed one of the best things that has happened to me.

First of all, I survived it.

I hit my absolute rock bottom and lived to tell.

Second of all, it broke every single wall that I had spent the last thirty-ish years of my life building up around my heart and left me with this beautiful, all-encompassing, compassionate, heart that rules every aspect of my life.

It gave me my second chance.

I sincerely hope that this little glimpse will help even just one of you beautiful souls; regardless if it is you or a loved one who is tangled up with depression.




What I Would Have Liked to Have Known Before Becoming a Mumma

I have found in recent years that the gift of hindsight has become a more powerful blessing and tool than I ever could have imagined. This gift of looking back with the eyes of present moment awareness has literally been shifting and shaping my life along the most beautiful lines. 

With the gift of hindsight in mind, I would like to give a few pointers to my pre-motherhood self. And, who am I kidding, they are all pretty darn applicable to my present day self too!

motherhood in real life

A List of Love to My Pre-Motherhood Self

1. You will create two human beings. You will keep them alive and thriving every day. I mean, really, what more can be said than that? Great work. Incredible work.

2. You are going to discover a kind of love that you cannot even fathom. It is as big and as wide and as deep and as limitless as your heart. It is all consuming. And it will consume you, so you need to be strong in your boundaries and this is ok. Look at it this way, if you are consumed by them, how can you be a good parent to them? Even though you will want to give every ounce of yourself to these two beautiful humans that you created, please, please still make time for yourself. Please create space to love yourself.

3. You are going to become a mumma in an age where information, opinions and, sadly, judgements are immediately available with the simple click of a button. Mostly I recommend just staying away from the internet. Sure, it can be a beneficial source for information, but it is a slippery slope. What I suggest instead is that you get super strong in yourself and trust your own mumma instincts. Trust that, by the sheer amount of love you feel for these two little people, you will always be doing what is best for them. And for you as their mumma.

4. The ages of one to two, with both boys, will be like living with tiny alcoholics. They will be prone to violent outbreaks, they will dump all of their emotional shit directly on to you, they will be manic in their moods, loving you so deeply one moment and lashing out the next, but you will get through it. And so will they. 

And once you are through it? You will laugh so hard at the madness that went down!

5. There are mummas that claim that their kiddos are their best friends and that being a stay at home mom is the dreamiest. You are not going to be one of these moms, and that is ok. Yes, you will be a full time stay at home mom. And yes, you will be really good at it. But it is not your passion and, again, that is ok. This kind of goes back to point number one, but remember to pursue what you love outside of your children as well. You will be a more content person because of it and that will reflect in your parenting.

6. Being a stay at home mom is going to be the hardest you have ever had to work. It is full on, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week kind of work. Physically, mentally, emotionally. It goes without saying that it is totally worth it, but it is still so. much. work. 

7. Two months after the birth of your second son, you are going to be struck down by post partum depression. It will be the darkest, most difficult six months of your life; every day will be a struggle not to take your own life. Yep, it will be that bad. But you get through it. And, going back to that beautiful gift of hindsight, there will come a day when you realize that it was actually one of the greatest gifts. That even though post partum depression was huge and ugly and so dark, it was the thing that tore down all of your walls. It was the thing that left you naked, raw and shivering so that you were able to start again. It was your rebirth and you will not waste this second chance.

8. For a year and a half after you finally heal from post partum depression, you will beat yourself up with the guilt and shame of "allowing" it to have happened. Don't do this. You didn't choose to have post partum depression {or maybe at a soul level you did} and you definitely didn't ruin your kids by having it. 

9. Your kids are going to be two of the greatest teachers you have. They will be like living with two little mirrors that are constantly reflecting your self back at you. And this is an opportunity for incredible growth. It is also an opportunity to become incredibly annoyed. Try to always choose growth!

10. You are going to raise two beautiful, kind, resilient, little souls. Enjoy this. Bask in it. Take the time to really appreciate them and the work that you put in to them.

11. Motherhood is a journey that will expand you, that will grow you into the truest, most authentic version of yourself. As with all growth there will be moments that will be absolute bliss and there will be moments that ache and require every ounce of bravery you can summon; embrace them all. This is a journey. This is your journey. And I am so proud of you.

12. Practice gratitude, every chance you get, for these two humans that show up in your life and for the courage they show as the help to raise you to the person you are meant to be.

There you go top twelve love notes to my pre-motherhood self. 

I hope some of you can relate. 

I hope it gives some of you that piece of love and forgiveness that maybe you were missing. 

And, mostly, I hope it inspires you all to know that you are not alone; that there are more mummas out there than you can possibly know who are simply fumbling their way as gracefully as possible through this thing called motherhood.