I want to talk about something that doesn’t get brought into conversation nearly enough. And I think now, in light of everything going on in the world, it’s so important to talk about it.
Mental health and postpartum wellness.
A few weeks ago I was chatting with my mom tribe in our group chat and we were talking about the fears and anxieties we have now that our hearts are walking around the world outside our bodies in these little humans we’ve created.
I took a deep breath and my stomach got uneasy as I typed, “I’m usually on anxiety meds and I’m thinking about going back on them.”
Ever since I can remember, anxiety and depression have been a part of my life. From being a small child and wanting to play by myself at the beach or playground, to being an adult and getting stressed when plans change or getting a splitting headache and nausea before any social gathering. It’s a part of who I am.
Now that I’m a mom, these feelings haven’t gone anywhere. If anything, they’re magnified. But suddenly because I’m a mom, I’m expected to have my sh*t together.
Guess what? Most days, I don’t.
ESPECIALLY NOW. With a global pandemic at large and rumors of a looming national shut down… I do not have my sh*t together more than usual. And I know I’m not alone. While I joke that, as a textbook introvert, I am living my best life… I’m scared. Anxious. Nervous. We all are.
There is such a stigma around mental health and taking medication in general. I’m not sure why. If some other part of your body didn’t make the right chemicals to function properly, medication is prescribed. Why is it any different if the organ that is struggling, is the brain?
This stigma is harmful, especially for new moms. Just like all the ways there are to do motherhood, there are just as many ways to do mental health. There are so many ways to improve mental health. Therapy, exercise, meditation, acupuncture, and yes, medication.
There is such a stigma around taking medication for mental health that I was afraid to bring it up to my closest mom friends. Now, let me be clear… these are women that I have talked to in detail about my leaking nipples, rashes, poop (mine, theirs and my baby’s), body insecurities, mom shaming… you name it, and they’ve been my sounding board.
Why is it that I can talk to them about all my other deepest insecurities, but not about the fact that I feel better when I take medication?
All of my family, friends and doctors are supportive of my journey. Let me be clear on that. Everyone, except me. I am absolutely my own biggest enemy in this case. I want to be able to do it all, without needing medication. I desperately want to be “normal”.
I’ve struggled accepting the fact that my “normal” mental health doesn’t look like I wish it did. But guess what? It IS normal!
All of my kick ass mom tribe group chatters said, “OMG, ME TOO!” or “I had no idea! I think it would help me, too!” or “You got this!” I got actual tears in my eyes. How great it felt to get it off my chest. I kid you not, later that day, I called my doc and said, “Hey, remember how we said I could go back on my meds whenever I wanted? Well, it’s time.”
Later that day, my prescription was filled and I have a follow up appointment scheduled for next month to make sure we’re back on the right track for my mental health journey.
And now… our world is the craziest most of my generation has had to witness. Our lives as we’ve built them are changing, drastically and rapidly. Mass fear and uncertainty plague us all as we watch the world from our homes.
Are we supposed to leave our homes? Are we supposed to stock our pantries? For how long? What are the symptoms? Who is at risk? Oh no, I sneezed. Am I sick? Did that person at the grocery store just cough? Will I have enough formula? What about diapers? What is my back up plan? What about child care? What about work? How will I pay my bills? You mean my entire family will be locked under one roof TOGETHER?! FOR WEEKS?!
Moms, we’ve got this. We have each other. We have all prepared the best we know how for our families. We will get through this together.
Please do not be afraid to reach out. Please do not be afraid to offer help. Do not be afraid to accept help, either. If you have an abundance of something, let your neighbors know. If you’re lacking something, ask others.
We will only get through this together. Let’s take care of each other, and most importantly- let’s make sure we’re taking care of our own mental health.
Whether that means asking for kindness, refilling your prescriptions, or simply taking a moment alone to scream into a pillow. Whatever you need, just ask.
Lukewarm Coffee Mom