The second time around
Per yesterday's post, I thought I'd share some exciting news (more for me than anyone else); I *finally* painted the room in my office that I wanted to reflect my perspective as I jumped into my business:
It feels really good to love what I'm doing every day (both what people see on social media and behind the scenes), brainstorming creative ways to connect with other Golden Girls fans, ways to get my name and products out there for others to appreciate, etc. And just painting it and not having it painted gave me a sense of accomplishment and ownership, like I finally have a place that's mine since I don't have an office outside my home to go to each day.
A Personal Note
In light of Postpartum Depression Awareness Month I wanted to share what this wall and completed task does for me as a person. Although I didn't know it, after I had my first baby I suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety. This is a highly personal experience that I've never publicly shared for most of the same reasons other people don't openly discuss it; according to society I must have been a sh*tty mom if I was anything but completely elated after I gave birth. How could I possibly not be thrilled when there are so many people who have trouble getting pregnant or simply can't at all? What an ungrateful, selfish POS I must have been who didn't deserve to become a Mom.
I call total BS on that. I can't even count how many times I thought to myself, 'What's wrong with me? Why can't I shake this off and just be happy? How is it possible for me to love another person this much and simultaneously feel so unhappy? Is this really who I am now?' At times when I saw friends and they talked to me just as they always had I would think to myself, 'What are you seeing when you look at me right now? Do you see the old me because I'm nothing but a shell now. A f*cking shell.'
Knowing myself to be a fiercely independent individual who craves alone time (and always has,) I can now see so many factors that probably contributed to my PPD/PPA.
~ We lived in 1.5 BR apartment with essentially no room or space to call my own or go to where I could feel like a separate, individual person.
~ Breastfeeding made me feel like I constantly had another human attached to me all the time. For someone who loves alone time, this is challenging.
~ Breastfeeding is also something only the person who gave birth can do (latching and other challenges aside.) This was really difficult and isolating because I knew that I was the only person who could do this and felt very alone at times. Also, it made me incredibly anxious because I constantly felt like I was on a timer and no one else had to worry about it except me.*
~ I thought getting back into the workforce would be easier and that it would happen within the first 6 months. It didn't. The more time that passed without being hired, the worst I felt. The SAHM job was never part of my plan because I knew it wasn't for me. (And for the record, it's REALLY f*cking hard. SAHMs get so little credit for the job they do 24/7 with zero paycheck.)
~ I was exhausted all the time. Significant sleep issues kicked in around month 9ish, which took a toll on me, how I felt about myself, my husband and our relationship. We are without a doubt the worst versions of ourselves when we're that sleep deprived.
To top it off, when I got pregnant with my second child I was diagnosed with perinatal anxiety and depression (no one told me I'd be at risk having had PPD/PPA! That would have been helpful!) The good news is that with time, the right course of treatment and a team to support me, I am in a far better mental space for this next baby and for my life. We bought a house over a year ago and this office is truly starting to feel like it's mine. There are no kid's toys in here, no diapers or changing tables, etc. It is just my work, my creative ideas and a place where I can go to just feel like myself. This wall was important for me to paint.
A note to Moms who experience backlash for their PPD/PPA
Not everyone is going to get it, and that's okay. You have to know who the people are in your life who will not judge you or make you feel worse by comparing your situation to those who may have a very difficult time getting pregnant, if they can at all. Be cognizant of those whom you vent to and make sure it's not your cousin who has had 4 miscarriages in the last 2 years. It sounds obvious, but I can't tell you how often people don't think about this. Those feelings are raw for people who really want to get pregnant so please be aware and thoughtful.
That being said, anyone who tells you that your PPD/PPA experience isn't valid is wrong. That's horsesh*t. Someone else's life challenge doesn't make your experience any less real, valid or substantial. You deserve love, you deserve to be happy and yes, you still deserve to be a Mom. No one chooses PPA/PPD and it is so hard to manage when you have another human depending on you to do everything.
My advice? GET HELP. IT HELPS. Even if you have to try a few different support systems, therapists, medications, whatever keep going because it can get better.
I'm a little concerned that my PPA/PPD will return this time around, but I'm also hopeful that with what I know now, I'm better equipped to tackle it with my support team and plan.
As Dorothy puts it:
We all make the best decisions we can make with what we know.
In friendship and cheesecake,
*I did pump which helped, but for those who don't know breast milk supply is based on demand so if I didn't breastfeed my son, I still had to pump for that feeding if I was out of the house or before I left or as soon as I came home otherwise it would slow down. Some freedom there, but still had to think about it constantly.