Postpartum Depression

Mommy Soul Tribe Diaries: Lindsay's Postpartum Depression

I was blissfully ignorant on what to expect when my son arrived- I had always been a control freak, effortlessly sliding into the many new changes that had occurred during the few years prior to us getting pregnant. Obviously I could handle a baby, no problem (LOL). My delivery was pretty quick - my water broke around 3am and after a failed epidural and some intense back labor, Thomas was vacuumed out and arrived at 11:17am on 11.5.16. The first few days at home were okay - then began the emotional roller coaster. My postpartum was VERY up and down. I had a good amount of happy moments sprinkled into my days, which is the argument I used against myself to "show" I wasn't truly suffering.

Looking back at my behavior, I can now see where I began sinking deeper into PPD. For instance, the immense sense of dread and loneliness I'd feel around 4pm when the sun would go down. The walks I would take by myself (even if it was raining) to escape my growing suffocation. I was having insomnia and became OBSESSED with sleep; it was all I could talk and think about. I started taking melatonin and drinking endless cups of "sleepy time" teas to knock me out. Nothing worked. Most days I had a painful, heavy knot in my stomach. I was losing weight and having anxiety attacks. I was becoming scared of going to stores, changing diapers and taking showers.

I think I cried for 72 hours straight when I finally called the emergency line for my OBGYN. It was a Sunday night around 11pm- luckily the doctor who delivered my son was on call and told me to come in the next morning.

I started Zoloft and began therapy shortly after. My husband had to take a week off of work to stay home with me while I adjusted to the medication and calmed my frazzled nerves. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, anxiety and an adjustment disorder. I struggled for a while accepting that I needed professional help. It made me feel weak and unfit to be someone's mother.

I'm so happy I pushed through and committed to getting better. While it still hurts to look back and remember what I was feeling during the first few months of my sons life, I'm in a really good place today and have learned a lot about myself!

 

*Thank you to our brave and real mama from the Mommy Soul Tribe, Lindsay Showmaker, for sharing her diary entry with us here on the blog. To join this honest conversation and countless others over in the free soul tribe, join us HEREWe are always looking for diary entries from members of our tribe on the following topics:

Postpartum Depression, Miscarriage, #MeToo, Rainbow Babies, Choosing to go back to work, Choosing to be a SAHM, Breastfeeding, Pumping, Starting a business, and God knows what else.

If you have a story you are generously willing to share, please email it to us at hello@shinyhappyhuman.com.

When the Nursery Walls Start Closing In

I’m crashing again. Dropping out of the bottom of a wave that feels like it might smash me to pieces.

It’s 9pm and my beautiful, round-cheeked, incredibly perfect 8-week-old has been resisting her bedtime for almost two hours now. Her nursery feels more like a prison to me with every passing minute. I feel claustrophobic within these four walls, hour after hour. Baby is snorting and snuffling like a tiny pink piglet against my chest, having been sick for a week now. She needs me so much, and yet my mind seems unable to focus on HER. I’m five moves ahead in the next scene—the one on my couch. God I want that couch. With my husband. I want whiskey. I want to numb out the groundhog days and stretched-out nights of newborn life with whiskey and TV, and I want it an hour ago.

Naturally, I hate myself for these thoughts. I can smell my own weakness. My ingratitude. Impatience.

Why am I so focused on what I want her to

do

instead of how fleeting this moment is? I berate myself. From today until forever I will have neither the ability nor right to control her, I think. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

Even though I know I can’t control my newborn or her sleep or my thoughts about the situation in this moment, I try to anyway. 

I try to coach myself through it.

“What is the end result you are trying so hard to control right now?”

Her sleep schedule.

“Do you actually have control over this?”

Apparently not.

“What can you focus on that you DO have control over?”

I try focusing on my breath for a change. It seems like the obvious choice. It is steady. I focus on my love for this child. It is fierce. Solid. Anchor deep. I ground in this moment long enough to notice how much easier it is now than it was just four short weeks ago when I felt the crushing isolation of newborn life. When breastfeeding still felt like cruel and unnatural painful torture. When instead of four or five hour stretches of sleep, I had to be content with two or three. And still . . .

It’s not enough in that moment. I cannot be still. Gratitude feels forced and shallow. It doesn’t feel real for me right NOW.

And then, shit. I’m falling again. Back under that wave and drowning under the weight of my thoughts—my own toxic thoughts. I would do anything to rid myself of these merciless postpartum thoughts.

I dream of weightlessness. Selfish, self-satisfying freedom. Joy. Where is my joy? I am a joyful person. Shiny and happy. Where am I?

What is happening to me?

Postpartum thoughts are not like ordinary thoughts. Under no circumstances may they be trusted. They are unforgiving and rash. Anxious and irrational.

A woman postpartum is adjusting to imbalanced hormones that can take up to a year to right themselves. Our sanity’s delicate reliance on 8 hours of sleep, moderate exercise, sunlight, self-care and healthy diet is reliably disrupted by a newborn’s needs. I don’t have the solution to this. I can’t figure out a way to realistically balance all these things with the demands of a new baby and a toddler. At least not right now. Not yet.

I find myself trying to relentlessly, anyway.

mom and baby
mom and baby

Suddenly, the breath of the tiny body on my chest slows. Deeper inhales; longer exhales. The weight of her warm, soft body sinks into my chest. I’m suddenly aware of the fact that we’re attached—My heart, her whole body, snuggled in like she was before she joined us earth-side.

I take in the quiet and feel my own blood pressure slow in tandem.

I focus on her breath now. I anchor into it. And then . . .

Oh my God, THIS IS MAGIC. How could I ever NOT want this? Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for sweet silence and this moment. The silencing of her cries silences my own spiraling thoughts, and I’m back. Back to this moment. Back to gratitude and overpowering love.

Yes, YES. This is me. Here I am. I like this me. I'm addicted to this discovering of myself amidst motherhood. To the endless personal challenge of growing bigger than myself and becoming more of who I want to be. Raising tiny humans helps me do this. It plants me firmly in soil that DEMANDS my own personal growth. Demands I be still. Demands I look within. Demands I grow bigger and do better and find the teachable moments. This mothering soil tests me and shows me that yes I can DO this. There is no right or wrong way. There is no perfect or imperfect. There is only THIS. Like a devoted farmer who will not be discouraged by a passing storm, I keep planting the seeds of the kind of woman and mother I have chosen to be. The type of strong and resilient daughters I hope to raise. Sometimes I plant in neat little rows. Sometimes I just throw them out and pray they root.

That same wave that dragged me under is now cresting and I’m riding it, buoyant and gleeful. I CAN HANDLE THIS. I sit in the moment and let it linger. I inhale the intoxicating scent of her milky breath and feel her warm, smooth cheek on mine. God I love her. So much love it hurts. I am so so grateful.

Less than 30 minutes later I’m back on that blessed couch with my partner. I’m more relaxed than I’ve been in weeks. We’re connecting. Laughing. Present.

“This is my favorite moment I’ve had since I can remember,” he tells me.

“Me too,” I whisper. And I mean it. I mean it so so much.

I am so happy. So completely MYSELF on this couch, with the power out post-hurricane and candles burning and everything that felt so utterly upside down and overwhelming just an hour ago is suddenly exactly everything I need and more than I could have asked for. I feel so so lucky and happy and I’m aware that I’m cresting yet another wave. Two in a row?! Hell yes. Here I am. This is me. This is us. We are good. I am good.

And then the lesson hits me like a hurricane. Down one minute and up the next and nothing is wrong or bad. I’m not doing it wrong.

Hard doesn't equal wrong or unworthy or weak. Sometimes hard is just human. Our pain is our greatest teacher, if we spend enough time sitting with it instead of running from it, judging ourselves.

I am that woman in the nursery and I am this person with the whiskey and the candles and the romance. I am too much and just enough and maybe THIS is actually normal? Maybe I’m not the only one?

Maybe I can just accept myself as the perfectly worthy and imperfect woman I already am and keep riding these waves with as much grace, courage, gratitude and love as possible to become more and more of whom I’m meant to be. For my daughters. For the man on the couch. For me.

It’s a few nights later and I’m back in the nursery. I’ve been in the glider for another two hours with the baby. Midway through, husband rushes in to relieve me for a spell but I shake my head and smile a NON-passive aggressive smile.

“I’m good. I’ve got this,” I say.

I am presence, patience and gratitude. No wave riding tonight. We are still. As I feed and rock and snuggle our creation, the love overpowers the overwhelm for a change and I smile recognizing some seeds have taken root.

I am better today than I was yesterday and still holding on for the ride.

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This article also appeared on

The Huffington Post.

Why I Said "Yes" to the Antidepressants

“How long are you comfortable waiting before you let me write you a prescription?” my therapist said to me. I was cross-legged on my classic patient couch and she sat across from me in her doctor chair. Her nature was to always smile a little when she spoke, and this provoking was no exception. She was playing my game with me. Me, the perfectionist and control freak. Her, hilarious and straightforward. I loved this woman. I still do. She knew I was clinically depressed. She knew I had only a couple weeks ago started to accept that truth for myself. She knew I would try to control it and micromanage it myself before I’d even be receptive to her suggestion of an antidepressant.

“Give me 2 more weeks,” I said to her. Dead serious.

Because DUH, I was going to BEAT this thing in 2 weeks. Just as soon as we switched daycares. Yes, that would fix EVERYTHING and I’d be much better equipped to be a mom and human being then. I wouldn’t cry as much. Or feel as anxious or overwhelmed. I wouldn’t feel like my body had failed me with its rapidly diminishing milk supply and it wouldn’t matter that I still loathed my job with the fire of 1,000 suns.

BECAUSE I would have FIXED that daycare problem, don’t you see! Because I’m a fucking wizard and at this time in my life, 3 years ago, I was incredibly confident about the “type” of woman I was. A gets-shit-done chick. A climbs-the-corporate-ladder badass. A DOES-IT-ALL-AND-THEN-SOME socialite with an affinity for dance parties and girl time. No, motherhood wouldn’t shake me. It wouldn’t change me. I would HANDLE. THIS.

Two weeks later, slouched in the warm embrace of that brown leather couch, I bawled my eyes out and defeatedly said, “I’ll take that prescription now.” In the next breath I probably said something like, “I feel like a failure. I hate myself. Why can’t I figure this out?”

My therapist probably smiled at me again, knowing that logical words of consolation only go so far when someone is in as deep a hole as I was at that period of my life—four months postpartum. I now realize that what she knew then was that EVERYTHING would change once my medication kicked in and I could think clearly again.

I was already in depression’s classic cycle of negative thinking. The negative and irrational thinking was the result of a chemical imbalance in my brain. This imbalance was the result of dramatic shifts in my hormone levels during and after pregnancy (note: this part happens to all pregnant women. We’re not joking when we say hormones are a bitch). ALL THIS was exacerbated by the fact that depression runs rampant in my family and I had experienced it before—in college. Yes, friends it is WAY genetic. I was already crazy high risk. I knew this. Top all this excellence off with the environmental trigger of me going back to work after 3 months of maternity leave and transitioning from spending my leisurely days breastfeeding, sleeping and watching Grey’s Anatomy to leaving my newborn with strangers and spending 40 hours a week at a job that was sucking my soul out my eyeballs and what do you get?

The perfect postpartum cocktail for a pregnancy hangover!

A life+genetic+chemical+hormonal elixir GUARANTEED to induce overwhelming amounts of stress and lead to classic postpartum depression (PPD).

“So we meet again, old friend,” I thought resentfully to my stupid self.

Things got much, much worse before they got better. The meds took two to three weeks to kick in, and I remember thinking despairingly one night (my crazy thoughts spiraling out of control), “Oh God, I waited too long.” My husband was doing his best to support me without, well, dying. He was nearly a single parent and definitely a lonely one.

“I’m using every single ounce of my energy to just keep it together every day,” I told him. “I’m hanging by a thread, and I just don’t have the energy to worry about you, too,” I told him indifferently one night in bed. And I meant it.

Don’t get me wrong. I was still taking care of our baby. Showing up for my job. Smiling at people in the hallways. Drinking myself to sleep and maybe even using eyebrow pencil (can’t confirm this last one, actually), but once the curtain closed and the audience went home at the end of the night and it was just me and husband—I collapsed exhausted. Disappointed. Terrified I wouldn’t have the fuel to start the show bright and early again the next morning.

My mantra during this time in my life was literally, “JUST PUT PANTS ON.”

If I got the pants on at 6:30 in the morning, then I’d probably make it to the car. If I made it to the car (baby in tow), then I knew I could make it the 40-minute drive to the office and once I sat at my desk—victory. What I actually accomplished at that desk each day mattered not nearly as much as the fact that I had gotten my ass there.

HOLLER IF YOU HEAR ME.

FRIENDS—I am one of the shiniest and happiest people I know. I am also one of the most highly sensitive and emotional people I know. You can look fine on the outside and be a hot mess on the inside. I mean, most of us are. I'm a LIFE COACH FOR MOTHERS, for goodness sakes. Yes, even I am human. I, ESPECIALLY, am human.

My point is, we are not here to suffer. We do not need to crawl our way to each day’s finish line (read: bottle of wine) as new mothers without taking care of ourselves. Usually, we just don’t know HOW to take care of ourselves. And then, even if we do, we don’t see mental and emotional and spiritual health as a priority because “I can handle this just fine, thankyouverymuch.”

I was not FINE at this time in my life. I am eternally grateful I said YES to those meds. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they saved my life, but I would say they saved my spirit. I would not have had the mental clarity to quit my job if it weren’t for those meds. I wouldn’t have had the energy to put into my marriage if it weren’t for those meds. I would have LITERALLY killed myself pumping breastmilk for my baby instead of supplementing with formula, as needed, if it weren’t for those meds.

Take the Goddamn meds if you need the meds. You’re not failing—this shit is just HARD, and anyone who says it’s not is lying or has literally blacked out the memory of what it’s like to adjust from ‘human with all her own body parts and hormones’ to ‘new mom.’ #ThatsWhatGSaid

As part of my new Mommy Real Talk series, I did a Facebook Live video about with 6 Tips for Helping a Friend with Postpartum Depression. You can watch it here for more resources and actual, tangible things you can do to support a mama with PPD. Side note: You can subscribe on that video screen to receive notifications when I go live in the future. (Because you know you want to KNOW).

Becoming a mama is such a rite of passage and there are so many important life-changing lessons to be learned along the way. For me, one of them was self-care and sanity and celebrating what I now know to be real life: Beautifully Messy Mommy.

My rocky start as a new mom changed my life and allowed me to truly embrace my new identity and create a life I love after healing and self-care. My intention is always to help you do the same.

Love and Truth-telling,

G

PS: Mother's Day! IT'S COMING. Did you ask for something you actually want? I'm doing 25% off single and double coaching sessions until next Sunday only. Tell your lovers to SHOP HERE and enter promo code ShinyHappyMoms25 so they can gift you the self-care and support you have more than earned.

PPS: Please share this with any mamas who need to hear a “Me too. You’re not the only one.” and the next time you're out to lunch with 10 mothers, remember AT LEAST 2 of them experienced PPD.

Why I'm Celebrating Myself

Last night I had a mini celebration. For myself. Relaxing with my hubs on the couch recapping our days, it hit me that the past year of my life as a wife, woman, mother and mompreneur deserves some serious pats on the back. Is it because I’m making six figures? No. Is it because I went on a tropical vacation and boasted of my location independence? Nope. It’s not that I haven’t lost my temper with my kid, and it’s definitely not because I haven’t cried any tears. I have. Plenty. My tears free me from the confines of my crazy-ass thoughts and so Imma keep on letting them FLOW (and you should, too, btw).I celebrated EASE. Growth. Happiness. Acceptance.

I’m nearly FREE from limiting beliefs, negative thoughts, unhealthy relationships, mental illness, guilt, anxiety, shoulds and many fears that, a year ago, had plagued me my whole life and I hadn't even realized it—fear of missing out, fear of not measuring up, fear of letting people down, fear of what others think, fear of repeating my parents’ mistakes, fear of money, and on and on and on.

I let ALL that shit GO.

I celebrated a new relationship to money, and a true understanding of my inherent worth and the value I have to share with the world. Clue: It’s not complicated.

Girl with Firecracker
Girl with Firecracker

I celebrated full freaking alignment with my current identity without being attached to it. When I evolve with the seasons with my life and I'm always exactly where I'm supposed to be, life always feels like a vacation.

I celebrated the full embodiment of a new way of living, loving and learning. It is so easy for me to teach other mothers about this way because I am SO COMMITTED to walking my talk, even when it’s not shiny and happy. Even when it’s dark and human. I am living authentically and transparently, and it feels rather nice.

I celebrated stepping into the roles of truth-teller and healer, which I’ve actually been playing for years without acknowledgment. What was that word again? Oh yeah, ALIGNMENT.

I celebrated a second pregnancy that has been incredibly healthy—in body, mind and soul. Blissfully devoid of prenatal depression, which cast a dark shadow over my first. And on that note, I celebrated nearly a year off antidepressants—with the help of a new way of thinking, my life coach and acupuncture. I feel mentally stronger than I ever have in my life, and that is the result of a LOT of intentional work on MYSELF. Depression is real. It's not something to be ashamed of, AND it doesn't define me.

I celebrated new friendships that are precious to me. Mentors in my life who have massively pushed it in the direction I wanted it to go and the proof that investing in MYSELF was my WISEST choice in becoming the wife, woman, mother and mompreneur I knew I could be.

Women don’t celebrate themselves enough. We’re taught it’s conceited, and so then we seek that external validation from our partners, friends and parents.

I celebrated myself and then my hubs celebrated with me. Doing this “work” on myself for the past year has helped me co-create such a rock solid partnership with my husband that it seems crazy I ever thought I shouldn’t or couldn’t.

And now we're more aware every day that our lives are AWESOME. Because of who we are and what we've created, not because of a status or photoshop finish. Our shiny, happy and human REAL LIFE truly feels awesome, because we stop to celebrate it. It's like waking up in your second trimester without morning sickness one day and not getting down on your knees and saying "thank you thank you thank you! I will never take feeling awesome for granted again!" That's what we do with our lives. And so instead of always waiting to "arrive" somewhere or "achieve" something, every day is celebration-worthy. A gift. This one incredible life.

Maybe you’re wondering how? How do we create this? It's a total commitment to healing, growing, stepping into the bad-ass woman you were born to be and making the most of YOUR one incredible life and the gifts you were given. But obviously it takes a wee bit more than commitment, yes? There are mindset hacks, strategies, ways of reframing language, thoughts and beliefs so that you create a world that supports you, cheers you on, believes in you and your little light.

Oh, and having a coach helps. A lot. Having epic coaches and mentors to call you out on your bullshit and help you spot the logic-bound lies that are keeping you overwhelmed, anxious, dissatisfied and imbalanced is key. I would know. I've hired a ton.

I’d love to teach you everything I’ve learned since becoming a mama. Tangible strategies to make your life EASIER and give you more to celebrate. I’m still scheduling a few more 25-minute complimentary Truth Chats with women like you are ready for ease, growth, happiness and ALIGNMENT. If that’s you, I’d love to meet you. Schedule your Truth Chatand let’s jam about how you’re accidentally making your career, marriage and #momlife harder than it has to be and the exact steps I used that you can implement to say goodbye to “Fear of . . ." for GOOD.

What are you celebrating today, Beautifully Messy Mommy? Let's celebrate YOU.

And if you're craving more sisterhood and celebration in your life, head on over to our private Mommy Soul Tribe Facebook groupwhere we celebrate ourselves WEEKLY and lift each other up on the daily.

PS: Don't forget to grab your free Truth Chat here asap. I'm rolling into my third trimester here (with compression tights and errrthang), so these will NOT be available forever!

I Just Get Sad

My daughter’s tiny delicate features scrunch up as her face begins to redden. “You make me sad!” she cries out as fat tears start to drop from her big beautiful eyes.

“Why are you sad?” we ask her.

“I JUST SAD,” is her simple, emphatic reply.

Toddlers are such incredible beings. There is no shame around emotions for them. Even when there seriously ought to be. “Oh, you’re just sad because you smacked me in the face and had to eat your favorite snack? Well you’re insane.” But, seriously.

Except I totally get it. And I’m learning to work through my feelings as swiftly and gracefully as my two-year-old.

Recently I spoke to a good friend and she noted that my energy was considerably lower than my usual perky demeanor. “You definitely sound sadder than you usually do,” she commented without judgment.

“Yeah - I’m just kind of sad today,” I observed from a safe distance with an equal lack of judgment.

Releasing the judgment is key. It leads to the liberation.

What if you were just sad because you were just freaking sad? What if you didn’t need to apologize for feeling any of the human emotions that are literally programmed into your body as a HUMAN? What if my toddler has it right, and we’ve got it wrong?

Sometimes I’m just sad, and I’m letting that be more than okay. I’m letting it BE. More being, less thinking. I’m riding that wave and seeing where it takes me and acknowledging that this is only a temporary emotion of the human experience and it will likely transform into a different feeling by Sunday. I’m probably as moody as a two-year-old, after all. Ask my husband (DON'T ASK MY HUSBAND).

I’ve spent more than a decade hiding from my human emotions. I recall my mother recapping her student teacher conference with my 4th grade teacher way back when. The only feedback the teacher felt compelled to give was, “Gervase is extremely sensitive.”

Well, thanks for all YOUR help, woman. And so I bottled up that sensitivity for the next 20 years, scared that it made me weak, different or "dramatic."

But, really . . . sometimes I just get sad.

Today I’ve been quietly celebrating a big win for me. It’s been 5 months since I weaned off my anti-depressants, and I had almost forgotten I could feel this great—naturally. I feel stronger, happier, more intuitive, more whole and more human than I’ve ever allowed myself to feel. And I’ve released the self-judgment that has historically blocked me from accepting those good and human feelings. I used to think my mind was poisoned. I was born flawed. I had shame around my family’s history of mental illness, even though 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression and that’s only the number that seek treatment. Every time I felt sadness, I spiraled into deep self-loathing and berated myself for slowing down or retreating from my social life or bringing a different energy to my work and relationships.

What if I had just let it be okay for me to be my sensitive self?

I’m learning to not only love ALL the parts of me, but to also just BE those parts without judgment. It’s the internal commentary that makes us reject certain "human" parts of ourselves. But we are perfect just as we are. Nothing needs fixing. No one is “being” better than another. Especially in motherhood. We’re all just trying to raise tiny humans and be decent grown-ups.

I ask my daughter to put her blocks away. She whips around and says, “Leave me alone!” furious that I’ve interrupted her workflow. My face falls and she can see what I say before I even say it. “It makes me sad when you speak that way, Aria.” She thinks on this for 5 seconds and then pivots and launches herself into my arms. With a huge smile and squinty eyes she squeezes me in the best hug of the day. Then she pulls back and looks at me, “You happy now, mommy?”

Yes, baby. Now my heart might burst.

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