Through the Storm, Rainbows are Found: My Journey through Postpartum Depression

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I have had 4 children in 5 years, including a set of twins. I also have had three different births, a c-section, a VBAC with an epidural and a VBAC without any pain medication. Each of my pregnancies and deliveries taught me so much.  I had always envisioned pregnancy and the postpartum period to be filled with bliss and peace. A time where I would be connecting with myself and my unborn on a deeper soul level, and while this connection did occur, I also suffered from severe morning sickness and a whole host of other health issues, which included postpartum depression after each pregnancy.

Because my pregnancies were fairly close to each other, it felt like I would get breaks from the depression, only to be hit with it again. My postpartum depression would come in waves and has been one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. It robbed me of my ability to connect with myself, with my family, to think clearly and make decisions. I lost my ability to reason, to remember and to be patient. Postpartum depression filled me with guilt, shame, and self loathing; as well as decimating my self esteem to a point where I was unable to feel like I was doing anything right or even able to look at myself in the mirror. I also suffered from Postpartum anxiety, intrusive thoughts and the desire to self harm.

My youngest child is almost two years old, and I am just now walking out of the dark forest that is postpartum depression, and into the full light of wholeness and healing. It has been a very long road, but one that I was able to walk and gain strength from. Taking medication for postpartum depression wasn’t an option for me, so I followed my inner guidance and intuition to take the steps needed so that I could heal.

Prayer, positive affirmations, mediation, rest, connecting with God and allowing His love to surround, fulfill and uplift me, yoga, tea, writing, and being patient and gentle with myself when my methods didn’t seem to be working fast enough, or at all, helped me to recover and have a deeper love for myself through this process. Depression is an illness. It is debilitating and can be quite destructive, but it is possible to make it through and become whole. It is possible to feel like yourself again, and to just feel again.

I am living proof, that the greater the storm the more beautiful the rainbow. I can now face any storm with the confidence that trouble doesn’t last always, and that through every storm, rainbows are found.

The Healing Abilities of Gentleness, Kindness, and Love

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Healing, in all of its forms, takes time. The healing process from deep wounds mentally, or emotionally, can be very painful and need to be dealt with head on, with love, kindness and gentleness.

Most do not view or treat themselves with love and kindness, when dealing with emotional or mental wounds and instead push themselves to get past the wound, instead of bearing with themselves in love and support while the healing occurs. When I was deep in the midst of postpartum depression, which I suffered after all three of my births, I made the mistake of trying to push myself through it. I would tell myself that I just needed to keep moving, to shake it off, to pretend like it wasn’t as debilitating it was, and to act normal and speed up my healing, when all I really wanted to do was slow down and rest. I also blamed myself for a mental disorder that I had no control over and that I did not inflict upon myself. I didn’t give myself what I needed to heal, and I wasn’t kind to myself during the process for a very long time.

Mental wellness is essential to a life well lived and to overall health and satisfaction, but the importance of mental wellness is generally overlooked, as we live in a society where it is not appropriate to slow down and take care of ourselves. We are encouraged to take care of others, but very rarely, are we encouraged to take care of ourselves for our own wellbeing and benefit. It wasn’t until I asked myself the tough questions and really took the time to listen, did I realize the error of my ways. I realized that my brain had endured many traumatic events throughout its lifetime, including the hormonal and chemical changes during and after pregnancy, and it needed to rest. I realized that healing is not something that can be rushed, nor should it ever be rushed. The lack of kindness that I had received during my lifetime, led me to treat myself with harshness and I had to teach myself how to speak encouragingly, kindly and lovingly to myself, something that comes natural to me when interacting with others, but didn’t come easily when I interacted with myself.  This negative self talk was magnified by the depression and would take me into a vicious cycle of feeling unworthy and worthless.

I began to make the conscious decision to notice when things weren’t coming easy to me due to my mental state, for example I was more forgetful and had a hard time forming sentences that described the way I was thinking, and treat myself with extra gentleness and kindness in these moments. I began to tell myself it was okay that I couldn’t remember things as well, and that it wasn’t a big deal, I was still healing and, even if I had a long way to go,  I had come a very long way. I could feel my self esteem increasing with every positive conversation that I had with myself.

I am still making positive self talk a habit. I am still learning and I am a work in progress, but I have gained the ability to notice when negative self talk is occurring, be able to pinpoint if it is being magnified by any current stressors and reroute the conversation to a positive perspective. When I find myself speaking to myself negatively, I stop and apologize to myself and offer myself forgiveness, because I deserve to forgive myself and begin anew. Being kinder to myself, has given me the ability to be even more kind and patient to the people around me, especially my loved ones. Treating yourself with kindness, gentleness and love is a gift, and it is a gift that you deserve to both give and receive.