I always say my specialty chose me. I still remember the day I found out I was pregnant. I was so excited. Aside from nausea, my pregnancy went well, until it didn’t. At 36 weeks, I was diagnosed with a major pregnancy complication that shook me to my core and that very same week I was induced in order to save my mini’s life. I went in for my weekly appointment, only to return to the ER 1.5 hours later. Four days later I was able to take her home. To top it off, my little mini was born on the same day, actually minutes before, my father’s second life threatening major surgery. Can someone say, rollercoaster of emotions?
Looking back at that time and everything that was going on, I now recognize that it was a fragile time for me. I didn’t realize. I just kept pushing on. It took me almost 1 year after my mini was born to set all the emotional load on my shoulders down, exhale and begin taking care of my emotional health. It took 1 year for me to realize that I had postpartum depression and anxiety. The thing is, I knew something wasn’t right. I couldn’t sleep, excessively worried about wanting everything to be perfect and I began feeling guilty that I wasn’t handling motherhood better. I knew I felt “off”, but for 1 year I simply thought it was a normal adjustment to motherhood. I suffered in silence and alone, hoping that whatever I was feeling would “just pass”. As I began my healing journey, I was also so ashamed of myself – “How could I not have seen this? A mental health professional trained to support others on their own emotional wellbeing.” The truth is, that it can happen to anyone. It does and it did.
I look back at that time of my life and remember how awfully lonely and confused I felt. Lonely, but never alone. These memories are what motivates me to speak up about my story. You are not alone. I began asking for help, feeling less guilty and setting healthy boundaries, which also meant I was taking better care of myself. There are many different paths one can take to overcome a Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder, for me, it was reaching out to a therapist that helped me the most. I had a safe place with a professional who supported me in sorting out my feelings and thoughts about all the changes that came along with motherhood. What it meant. What it didn’t. My therapist helped to bring me back to life, my new life. Reaching out for help, made a world of a difference for me. The sunshine rays slowly peaked through the clouds more and more. I learned how to integrate (and continue nourishing) my old self with my new “mommy” self. I suffered but got better. So will you. I did it. You will too. YOU MATTER.