Once upon a time I was just a girl with a dream. A little girl who shoved stuffed animals under her Mickey Mouse shirt as she toddled across the living room. Then I’d pretend to have my baby, love it, and eventually abandon it in a corner for a different toy.
Then I grew up.
Had a real baby.
Learned really quickly there’s no abandoning a real baby in the corner. Even when I wanted to because every new scream or shriek caused debilitating anxiety or a new flood of intrusive thoughts.
No, real babies, unlike the stuffed animal variety, demand and require attention. They need to eat, they need to have their diapers changed, they require love and interaction. It’s hard stuff for a mom without a Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorder. Even harder for a mom struggling to keep the mental illness wolves at bay. By the time baby is ready to finally settle down for the night (even if it’s 2am in the morning), our brains are so fried from all the self-talk we’ve done throughout the day just to convince ourselves “Yes, I CAN make it for just 60 more seconds,” all we can do is sit there and stare at the wall. Like Zombies. Sure, moms without PPD are Zombiefied every once in awhile too. Motherhood is HARD.
I look back at the depths of my hell and wonder what I could have done differently. I examine it, searching for the one thing I did wrong – the one thing I should have done differently. What if I had asked for help here or what if I had educated myself as intensely before my first two pregnancies? Built in more social support? What if…
Here’s the kicker… even if I identify the ONE thing I could change? Would it matter? Who would I be today? Would I still be the Mama Bear I am today for families with Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders? If I changed just one thing to clear my PMAD experience, would I be doing more damage than good?
Hindsight sucks when we look upon it with a longing to change things. Hindsight can be a beautiful thing if, instead of looking upon our past with a longing to change it, we look upon it with a desire to understand why we are where we are and how we’re going to get to our next place in life. Our past is full of building blocks regardless of how dark and negative. When we learn how to slide them all into place like a Rubik’s Cube, we solve the puzzle of our life and empower ourselves to move forward with an unparallelled strength.
Don’t look back in regret. Look back with a desire to understand and then launch yourself into your future. You’ll be amazed at how far you can go.
The biggest thing I learned from dealing with my social anxiety disorder is, if I didn’t love myself, tehre was no use in anyone else loving me.
You have to be the best person you can FOR YOU before you can achieve goals. have a meaningful relationship, plan for the future, etc.
SO true. If you aren’t the best person FOR YOU first, you really aren’t the best person for anyone or anything else. A hard yet valuable lesson.
I love what you said about hindsight. Too often I look back at my life and see regrets instead of reflecting on ways I can have a better future. Definitely need to practice more of the positive.
I felt terrible guilt for many years until I went to see a doctor about another issue, we got talking about my PPD and he said to me: “You need to go imagine going back to that Michelle that was then, give her hug and tell her what a good job she did despite the circumstances” It really helped for me – I can’t change what happened, I can go back, but I CAN see I did the best I can at the time
this is a great post, wonderful advice.