Britney Spears is my favorite. Judge away, but there is something about her. I am a Britney lover and I think she is the best. I was watching her Billboard Music Awards performance today. I googled it, and the first video that came up was of a man mocking her. He said something along the lines of, “ Look who they let out of the mental asylum to lip-sync her way through a terrible performance.” Whether you like her or her music, the way he referred to her is inexcusable, and it is all too common. She has had to deal with her mental health in the public’s eye and she gets mocked over and over for it. People tend to either be afraid of those who are mentally unwell and react with mocking them, or they think it is in their head, something that they can get over- a weakness. With the terrible stigmas around mental health, it can very difficult to come forward or even admit when you have been struggling. Because of the attitude I see every day toward this, I feel strongly about sharing my story. I hope that someone can read it and know that “you are not alone”, and this is not uncommon, or a weakness.
After having my first baby, I was embarrassed at the way that I thought I handled it opposed to others. I saw other women out and about right after they had their babies. I saw social media accounts with people doting on their babies, cleaning, getting dressed, and just generally continuing on with life. I felt like perhaps I just did not handle it as well as I should have. I thought maybe because I was a first-time mom, I made it harder for myself then it had to be. I was under the illusion that everyone’s postpartum trials were the same as mine. If they could go to church right after they had their baby without intense crying fits and anxiety, then I should be able to suck it up and do the same.
With my next baby, I was determined to be more prepared. I knew how to handle a newborn this time. I knew what made things harder last time.
I would have my house immaculate before I went to the hospital. I would plan out my meals for two weeks after. I had my husband start his paternity leave after the hospital stay and not the day I had the baby. I planned for people to come and play with my daughter. I had all the right baby equipment. This time, I would not fail.
I had my baby via planned c-section. The surgery went a lot better than my last one. I only was in the hospital for three days vs the five I was in last time. My pain was less. My baby was happy.
In spite of all the precautionary measures, my PPD was much worse. It was coupled with debilitating anxiety. I saw the world going around me but was too scared to be able to be a part of it. I hated feeling this way. I hated the constant fear and the non-stop crying. I sought help being familiar with these feelings. I noticed improvement almost immediately. After 3 months I started to feel like myself and gained back my interest in the world. I struggled still and I knew when I hadn’t taken my pills, but I felt more control over my life
Around this time, I was talking to somebody I knew who had just had a baby. I was remarking at her strength for being out to dinner and for giving a talk in church a few days after she had her baby. She said, “It wasn’t so bad”. I asked her if she had dealt with baby blues at all. She said, “No, I haven’t had any mood changes at all.” Her saying this, turned on a light bulb in my head. I realized that no experience is the same. Like anything in life, everybody goes through things differently. Unfortunately, I have to deal with postpartum depression and anxiety. I, however, have a lot of blessings in other areas. I was not failing at motherhood or failing at recovering properly from childbirth. I just had a lot more to deal with in this area than others. And others, in turn, had a lot more to deal with than I did.
This conversation changed my attitude about things in general. I was able to accept my way of doing things and stop comparing myself to other moms around me.
It is highly possible that I will go through PPD with my next baby, and no matter what I do to prepare, it will be just as hard. The only difference will be that I will accept myself and the fact that I will be doing the very best I can to get through what I am dealt with.