Therapy has been put on the back burner the last two months. With the arrival of my son, prioritizing my own self-care has fallen to the wayside. I am a little ashamed to admit this because prior to giving birth I vowed to routinely see my therapist. Regular therapy sessions hold me accountable. My worst fear is getting postpartum depression and with my history of depression it seemed almost inevitable.
With mental illness out in the open these days I can’t help but feel sorry for the women who came before us. Aunts, elders, friends are just now speaking up about their experiences with depression. Women scared to leave their home with their child; or women wanting to drive off a bridge to escape exhaustion. Women silently suffering because it was taboo to admit they were overwhelmed with the responsibility of another life. I blame society for the closed doors, hush hush mentality.
Women are expected to naturally know what to do with a child. We are supposed to care for another which leads to the ultimate sacrifice… ourselves. I think this is why we bond together despite our differences. I know what you’ve gone through. I know the curve of your back as you lean down listening for the sound of your babies breath. I know the look in the mirror as you inspect a body that doesn’t resemble what you were before. I understand the voice in your head that keeps you questioning whether you’re doing the right thing. I know how valuable 20 extra minutes in a day are – especially when it’s to yourself. So if you see mothers silently nodding as they pass each other in a stroller, it’s the nod of respect. You made it out of the house today and the day before that and the day before that. As a new mom I have a newfound appreciation for those who can keep their stuff together while raising a human.
I think therapy sessions should be required for all new mothers. Even if moms go to nap for an hour. And yes, the session should be baby free. Maybe they can help us answer the question, “So how are you doing?”. The real response and the canned response both haven’t worked in my case. One feels too real and the other too fake. “Well he is only sleeping three hours at a time and I am only sleeping two.” cue the look of horror. “I am wonderful, motherhood is such a blessing.” cue the eyeroll.
In my personal case, I don’t stop to even ask myself “how are you?” because I fear the answer. In a brain full of anxiety, I worry I won’t like the response. So it is best to keep moving. After all there are onesies to be washed, babies to be fed and bottles to be warmed. I keep that question in the back of my mind until I can unload and fully process it which I intend to do the next time I am in therapy.
Looking for a mental health resource? Check out BetterHelp.