“I’m going away on a business trip for a few days, are you going to be alright?”
A relatively simple question posed by my husband. It should have a simple answer, the one he was looking for.
It felt like the rug was being pulled out from under and my ass was hitting the floor and shattering my confidence into a million pieces. No, I wanted to scream, I won’t be alright! I’m barely holding on by a thread! I can’t do this alone for days at a time!
Instead, I looked him square in the eye and said, “Yes of course, I’ve been doing this for months now, I can handle a few days.”
What I really meant was this: I’ve been living with post-partum depression and anxiety for a year now. But the thought of going another day and night, and alone at that, is paralyzing me with fear. So no, I can’t do this. I can’t do it anymore.
The next day I walked into my doctor’s office and said, “I need help. I can’t do this anymore.”
I’d never wanted to be that mom. That mom who had postpartum depression. The one who everyone thought couldn’t handle motherhood. Who couldn’t get it together. The one who struggled on a day to day basis, who felt she couldn’t be everything her kid needed her to be.
I didn’t want the stigma, I didn’t want to feel weak, but deep down, I didn’t want the truth to be that I couldn’t do it. So I suffered in silence. My relationships changed, I was less emotionally and mentally present for my son, and while standing in the bright summer sun, I lived in a dark cloud that the hot wind could never blow away.
The doctor walked in and started asking me questions. She spoke softly and gently, and I could tell she was one of the good ones. In the middle of answering what seemed like yet another one of those simple questions, I looked down, and I broke. The tears fell, and all of the pent up emotion came pouring out like a dam bursting after a heavy storm. Little did the doctor know, but she would change my life that day.
We came up with a game plan, and I walked out of the office with the smallest seed of hope I had in a long time.
In order to get better and go forward, I was going to have to first go backwards and embrace the broken woman I barely recognized. I had to learn that depression is something external, but the woman I have been, am, and will be, is not. We are all the same person, so I enveloped her in hope and, very gently, began the healing process. I separated myself from the idea that depression is a defining characteristic, and began to examine what truly defines me as a person.
Each day the sun started shining brighter, both on my face and in my heart. Each day, the fog lifted a little more. Each day, I became the mother I expected to be.
I turned into someone who was cheerful, confident, and hopeful for the future. Someone who is excited about what the next day will bring, and not someone who feared getting through the next hour.
My life changed because I was finally able to embrace what I was going through, and through it was able to change for the better. My journey is still an ongoing one, but every stride I take is with the knowledge that I am exactly who my son needs me to be.
About the author
Not too long ago Ainsley became a mother, fulfilling her unrealized calling. After experiencing intense physical and emotional challenges during pregnancy and facing motherhood with zero sense of reality, she found her calling in helping other women. She left her career to raise her son and committed herself to letting other women know they aren’t alone in their experiences. She aims to give women a realistic voice and view of pregnancy and motherhood, while creating a community of support around them and celebrate each unique motherhood experience. She started her own blog and eventually co-created The Luna Mom.
Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter: @themilkleech