I tend to spill my guts on Facebook every now and then. Some people might think I’m honest to a fault or that I share too much. Just to clarify, I do have boundaries. I never post about drama. If someone is pissing me off, I’m not the type that runs to write a status update about it. It’s not that type of gut spilling. But I do post honestly about how parenting sucks sometimes and I am very open about my struggle with postpartum depression.
I wasn’t always this open, though. When I had my first baby, I would never have admitted that I was struggling with intense rage and depression. I cared way too much what other people thought about me. I had a hardcore case of the Supermom complex and made myself sick trying to keep up with the impossibly high standards I set for myself. I constantly compared myself to other moms and always felt like I was being judged based on the decisions I made.
I had years of experience working with children, infants and parents so I naively thought I had it all figured out. So why was it that when I had my own baby, I felt like I was losing my mind and nothing went the way I thought it should?
So why was it that when I had my own baby, I felt like I was losing my mind and nothing went the way I thought it should?
Well, first of all, you can have all the experience in the world and read every parenting book ever written, but until you have your own child, you truly have no idea what you’re signing up for. Nothing can prepare you for that. And as if adjusting to parenting isn’t hard enough, my postpartum depression went undiagnosed for the first year of my son’s life, as I put so much energy into keeping up this charade that everything was great.
After my second baby, I developed postpartum depression again, although this time it manifested differently and I struggled more with anxiety and intrusive thoughts. During this time, I couldn’t watch the news at all because the stories of violence would affect me so deeply that I would become paranoid and fearful for our lives. I also deleted my Facebook account because I recognized that it just wasn’t healthy for me to be scrolling through my newsfeed and feeling so deeply inadequate as I compared myself to other people’s “highlight reels” while I was struggling just to make it through the day.
Eventually, with medication and a lot of support, I found my way back to myself and was able to separate my illness from my self-worth. I wasn’t a bad mom, I was the one in five who suffer from a postpartum mood disorder. And not nearly enough people were talking about it.
I wasn’t a bad mom, I was the one in five who suffer from a postpartum mood disorder. And not nearly enough people were talking about it.
I became very passionate about maternal mental illness and after devouring every book on the subject at my local library and talking to a lot of moms, I knew that I most definitely was not alone but the majority of women were suffering in silence. I began to put down the mask that I wore every time I smiled and said I was doing great when I actually was far from it. When people asked me how I was doing, I started to answer honestly. Not like when the cashier or the server asked me but with friends and family I trusted. I shocked a few people with my authentic responses, but for the most part, my honestly led to some really meaningful conversations that we wouldn’t have had if I just robotically said I was “fine”. It also led to many moms disclosing that they too, weren’t doing as great as they pretended to be. How incredibly freeing it was to finally be able to talk openly about how hard it was. How validating to finally have other women who really got it.
Eventually, I started a new business and I realized that Facebook would be really beneficial in helping me connect with more people. This was a personal dilemma for me because I kind of despised facebook (a.k.a. “fakebook”). But I had really isolated myself from a lot of people when I wasn’t well and I did want to reconnect. So I made a promise to myself that if I went back on social media, I was going to keep it real and be honest about my struggles.
I don’t ever want to give off the vibe that I have it all together and am living this idealistic life. It’s just not true. To be honest, things are actually pretty great these days but bad days can still knock me on my ass. Thankfully, I have an amazing circle of support, some effective coping strategies and I’ve learned the importance of self-care.
There are times that I still question whether I’m being too transparent and whether people are judging me as a parent. There are times when I post something and then cringe when I think about my entire friends list reading it and I quickly delete it. There are other times that my heart races but I resist the urge to delete and think about how many other parents are going through the same thing and could benefit from knowing they’re not alone. Every time I receive a heartfelt message from someone who trusted me enough to open up about their own struggle, or someone who found the courage to reach out for help, I know it’s worth it. Plus, I’m just addicted to keeping it real now so there’s no going back.
If you or someone you know is suffering from a postpartum mood disorder, Postpartum Progress is an incredible resource and can help you find support in your area.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.