“I know there’s an obsession with how things look, but has anyone talked about how it feels? Because right now, I could not feel lonelier.” – Meghan Markle
I remember preparing for our first baby to be born. So many celebrations and showers, so much excitement and daydreaming. Newly-popular Instagram gave me a window into my mom friends’ lives, allowing me to see their adorable matching family photos, newborn smiles, and everyday moments in a way I had never thought about before. Things just looked so…. perfect. And I just couldn’t wait to capture my own perfect moments with my little family.
But Instagram hadn’t warned me about traumatic birth experiences, week-long stays in uncomfortable hospital beds while my child lays in a jaundice tube unable to be held, breastfeeding problems, and my husband’s forced return to work just 15 hours after we finally got home. As I stood in my kitchen, literally learning how to change a diaper as my husband was walking out the door for work, I remembered that I was on “bed rest” and was supposed to be healing from my near-death birthing experience.
Instead, I was taking care of a newborn baby who had experienced his own birthing trauma.
I was a broken shell of a person.
My baby was perfect and adorable and I had no regrets – but I still felt this disconnect between us. I was learning how to be a mother, while my own estranged mother was sending me abusive messages about how my baby was going to turn out terrible just like I was.
I now know that I had postpartum depression.
We had moved away from family a few years prior for my husband’s job. But when we reached out to those around us, we quickly learned that postpartum depression wasn’t a health problem to be treated. It was a weakness. Perhaps even a sin to be atoned for.
So the nasty cycle continued. In order to survive in the abusive environment I grew up in, I had learned to shove my emotions deep inside me and never deal with them. Once I learned that postpartum depression was a “bad thing,” I shoved that deep down, too.
It wasn’t until my second child was born that the layers of depression and birth PTSD began to thaw, and I realized how much I needed true healing, instead of suppression. Our family was in a healthier place, both mentally and geographically, and I was able to begin therapy and process through what I had experienced.
That’s why Meghan Markle’s interview brought me to tears. Mental health doesn’t discriminate based on celebrity status or bank account size. In the end, Meghan Markle was NOT getting the mental health help that she needed, and she was wiling to do whatever it took to be healthy for her child. She fought for her mental health and was willing to pull back the curtain on the darkness and depression that she battled, even though that meant opening herself up to judgment and scrutiny. And over a year ago, every mom in the world saw themselves in her when she took a deep breath with tears in her eyes and told a reporter that she wasn’t ok… and that no one else had ever thought to ask if she was.
So what does that mean for you and me? Well, there is power in our life experiences… and we can tap into that power when we choose to share our stories. That’s why I began blogging during the pandemic – because I was finally starting to see through the facade of social media perfection, and I wanted to reach the mom who was struggling to tread water in the midst of really hard parenting seasons.
There is huge power in vulnerability and being willing to show our weaknesses so that others don’t feel like they are going through things alone. We may all be alone physically during this pandemic, but we can be together online if we will truly be honest about what life is like. No Photoshop, no filters, no highlight reels.