Updated: Jul 14
My little girl turned five yesterday, and I had a reflective day.
From one task to another, I moved through my day thinking about these five years.
How I wasn't ready to become a Mum (because things happened too fast) but, who is ever prepared for this gig anyway?
How I lost myself at some point and how hard it was to learn to live with this new me.
How relieving was saying, "I have postnatal depression" to my partner and stop pretending I had my shit together when it was obvious I hadn't.
The whole idea and fantasy around breastfeeding: "You'll see how magical it is" "Such a bonding experience with your baby," they said... and there was me, not feeling any of that.
With time I started putting some pieces together, so I thought I was broken, and I was. But not because of not feeling all that while breastfeeding.
I got broken because I was trying to live life as before becoming a Mum, and that's not possible.
Being all day in my PJs, with my hair up in a messy bun(a perfect day now!), living my life at someone else's rhythm, the night shift, and a child that's not a good sleeper were some of the things I wasn't ready for. And NO ONE warned me about it.
There was more than a few tears yesterday, even in public places, yes, I let my tears run down anywhere now, and I don't give a shit.
They were happy tears, proud tears, sentimental tears.
My baby turned five, and even though it took me years to enjoy motherhood, I can look at myself in the mirror and feel proud of how far I've come, feel proud of facing my situation back then, and openly wanting to feel and be better.
Asking for help may not be easy, admitting to yourself and others that you are not having the blast society tells you you should feel it is hard!
But the immense sense of self-pride that being truthful to you brings, outweighs everything else.
I was told once, by a dear friend of mine: "I respect that you have postnatal depression" as it was something that I could choose (?)
At that moment, a voice in my head screamed a loud WTF! But I didn't have the experience, the tool, my way walked as I have now, and I said nothing. I knew my friend didn't mean to disrespect me or hurt me, and it was all coming from an absolute place of ignorance.
Putting a mental illness at the same level of your preference for a soccer team or liking a weird flavour of ice-cream; something was wrong there. Since then, I'm committed to talking about it, from my place, my experience, and nothing else.
With time and a lot of work on myself, I've got to the point where I can get some people who don't really understand postnatal depression and anxiety. And it might be for a whole bunch of reasons; there's this belief that because you are a Mum, you should feel nothing but blessed and happy and, turns out you can have lots of other feelings too!
You can feel blessed because you get to be a Mum, and at the same time, you can feel lost and lonely, even when you have a fantastic support system. This is not about not loving your baby; my experience wasn't about that. It was about me, purely about me and not knowing what was next for me now that I was a Mum.
Statistics say that 1 in 5 women suffer from postnatal depression, and I can't help but ask myself if that number is accurate. What about all those women that don't feel safe to share what they are going through?
They might be afraid of being emotionally punished by their friends and family for not feeling solely blessed and thrilled and over the moon.
There is a chance you've read this before, my mission is to help Mums to feel amazing about themselves again, and when I first had that thought, I wasn't thinking about the physical aspect. I was thinking about mental health and how, from my humble place, I can help Mums achieve this.
Education, education, education was, and still is the answer.
If you experience signs of postnatal depression-anxiety, please ask for help. If you are close to someone going through it, please educate yourself to help them transition this unknown path, and when shit hits the fan, they know they can count on you.