Today’s guest post comes from a great friend, Mara Watts from over at Motherhood on Purpose. Mara is a two-time mom who understands the struggles that come with postpartum depression and anxiety. She has personally gone through it and has so much to offer on the subject.
Lessons from my struggle with PPD
By Mara Watts
Postpartum depression is real. I didn’t realize that until I was so deep into it, buried and drowning in my own struggle. It is hard, really hard.
And then there’s mom-guilt. Yep, it’s a real thing, but mixed with postpartum depression, it can totally turn motherhood into a struggle as a whole. I know because I too have been there.
I lived in my struggle for quite some time. At first I had no idea I was even struggling, I was told that my thoughts and feelings were normal and that they would go away with time. I’m 4 years into this motherhood thing and I still struggle to get out of bed, to speak truth into my own life and to realize that I am, in fact, a good mother. But why? Why me?
It wasn’t until I started viewing my struggle as a blessing, a learning opportunity for my life. To turn my journey with postpartum into one of acceptance and love for myself. I finally decided to meet myself where I was, accept and come back to love…for ME!
I finally decided to meet myself where I was, accept and come back to love...for ME! Click To Tweet
And so I’d like to share with you the lessons I’ve learned along the way:
Lesson #1: Feel the Feels
Through this journey I have been on with postpartum depression, I’ve learned that my feelings are not something to be ashamed of. My feelings are something to embrace, to really feel – my feelings are a part of me, why hide them?
About 4 years ago I started a blog to document my journey. I called it “Get Out Mama & Baby” because I found that getting out of the house was my ticket to sanity, my own personal way of navigating and forcing myself out of my slumps. My young son and I would pack up each day, while my husband was at work, to explore our beautiful city (rain or shine!). We would end up at playplaces, coffee shops, restaurants, the park, anywhere I could go to simply get out of my house.
I found that I was happier. In those moments I made a point to really feel that happiness, the feeling. To notice that when I’m happy, I enjoy motherhood. And so I started doing more of those things that made me happy.
But when I was home and those feelings flooded my mind and my body, I really took time to notice them, to cry, to let it all out so that I could move past it. Sometimes I never moved past a feeling and harbored it inside, but at least acknowledging and feeling the feels helped me overcome and to not be ashamed of who I am.
And yes, you may be asking if I feel the feels in public – ABSOLUTELY! Darn it, if I needed to cry, I cried. I let it all out, and then a smile would surface. I cleared my mind, let it go, embraced so that I could take the rest of the day to the best of my own ability.
Lesson #2: I’m not Alone
It took a lot for me to come out and share my struggles. But when I did, I felt better and I instantly realized that I was not alone.
I will be the first to tell you that surrounding yourself with others going through similar challenges is one of the best things that you can do for yourself, especially when it comes to postpartum depression.
A like mind is a like mind – they understand, truly understand, and can give you feedback that can aid in your healing.
I remember deciding that I was ready to feel accepted by the world. I had finally accepted the “new me”, but I felt alone and desired someone to talk to. That was when I found my circle, my people. I went to a support group.
Yep, I got out, put on makeup and clothes and literally went to a support group. It was the BEST thing that I did for myself in that time. I shared my feelings, the good and the bad, received hugs and was truly heard.
No one said “it will go away” or “wipe it off, you can’t feel this way. Your children need you to keep going”. No, these women understood, they sympathized and offered tips and tricks for where I was in the moment so that I could flourish and thrive with where I was at in the moment time.
It was eye opening. PLUS!! I heard stories from others and quickly found that, nope, I am not alone.
Lesson #3: Regular Self-Care is a MUST
With or without postpartum depression, I believe that every mom should gift themselves with regular self-care.
Before becoming a mom, my nails were freshly painted, I attended yoga classes 5 out of 7 days a week, made a point to get a massage every month and slept as often and as much as I liked. Now, my nails are chewed off, yoga rarely happens, I laugh at the thought of getting a massage and I sleep when I can. Things have changed.
And so has self-care. I have to either force myself to do something for myself, or squeeze in self-care when I can.
Typically, self-care does not look like a manicure and massage spa day. No. Self-care is taking deep breaths throughout the day and saying to myself, “You are beautiful, you are enough.”
Self-care now looks like eating chocolate while I’m locked in the bathroom for 10 minutes. It is listening to a new podcast while I cook dinner. It looks like getting out of my yoga pants and into something that I feel confident in, slap on some makeup and head out for a drive.
Self-care is listening to my old N’SYNC CD in the car while the kids sleep soundly in the back. Self-care is making my bed in the morning. And self-care is just that – realizing when I’m caring for me, even in the little moments.
So, I guess it all boils down to self-awareness and acknowledging the path. Yes, it is hard! Yes, it is unnerving, yes it can be a difficult road. But, for me, what helped the most was really feeling my feelings, knowing that I am not alone and caring for myself throughout.
You’ve got this mama!
Mara Watts is an Asheville-based mamapreneur – a mother to two amazing children, a lover of words, a creative idea generator and a connection and relationship builder. She helps mothers all over the globe fall in love with themselves, discover balance, self-identity and a sense of purpose. Her passions include business and social media strategies as well as reading, playing the piano, dancing and centering on her yoga mat with her 2.5 year old daughter. Through her work, it is Mara’s goal and dream to create an online, world-wide place where mothers of all walks of life can call “home” – to feel held, loved and supported.
Alesia is a working mom who fights her way through life, depression, and just plain stupidity. She strives to show others that it is possible to be a bad-ass while you feel like you’re losing your mind. A Bottle of Sanity is a space in which working moms may find easy recipes, parenting tips, and sanity.