Even the mere idea of writing this makes my stomach clench in knots for fear that this will affirm my wrongful belief that “I’m a bad mommy.” But here I am, taking a deep breath, readying myself to confess the battle I’m fighting.
Most people have heard of PPD and awareness is rising but not enough in my opinion. I have felt completely isolated with my thoughts and fears despite assurance that it’s not just me struggling with this. Before I go further, I need you, my reader, to understand I absolutely ADORE my daughter and I’d do anything for her. You must also know I battle OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) and PPD has resulted in a reemergence of symptoms that were prior in remission. Also, and importantly, I am working with a counselor and doctor to manage my symptoms. Okay, glad we addressed that.
So that being said, do you know what it’s like to have thoughts that target your child’s safety or your own? Do you know how horrific it feels to sit home with a brand new helpless infant while these thoughts manifest, making you scared to even touch said infant? I’ve always struggled with harm based intrusive thoughts- now intensified by post partum depression/anxiety. These thoughts target myself and my beautiful baby, leading to surges of guilt, horror, and shame. I feel petrified to tell anyone about this for fear of being viewed a monster, despite absolutely no real intention of harming anyone. It’s extremely scary to go through, seemingly alone. This is not to say I dont have a support system. In fact, I’ve had incredible support and that helps drastically. But PPD doesnt discriminate and is possible even with a great support system.
I often lay awake at night worrying if I held her enough. If she’s gotten enough love. Am I helping her develop properly? What if I’m neglecting her in some way? Today I didnt play as much as usual, has she noticed? Does she think I don’t love her as much? What if she chokes in her sleep?
The “what ifs” are haunting, even attacking my dreams in the form of brutal nightmares. My sleep quality is affected as is my self image. Theres a constant battle with feelings of inadequacy. Was I even meant to be a mommy? What if my child hates me?
Luckily, there IS help available if you’ve felt as I have. And its vital to seek it out to avoid exacerbation of symptoms. Remember momma, you need to take care of you to be your best for your child/children. Your child wants a happy mother, not a perfect one. And certainly not one who is burnt out and crying regularly or worse. It’s okay to cry and be overwhelmed of course but your mental health is crucial during this adjustment period. Take care of you. You got this. Be gentle with yourself, you’re human and mistakes happen.