Four years ago, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. A few days after taking him home from the hospital, I became convinced I didn’t want to be his mother. I had made a terrible mistake by having a baby. I had no idea what was wrong with me. All I wanted was to be the perfect mother madly in love with my son. Two weeks later I was diagnosed with postpartum depression.
I don’t remember writing during that year while I was sick, but I recently came across an unlabeled composition notebook, and when I opened it, what I found inside broke my heart.
I wrote the following on May 27, 2013, two months after my son was born.
Yesterday, my son Mason turned 2 months old. Yes, I have a son and I wish I didn’t. I also have postpartum depression, which is apparently the reason I don’t want him. I now take anti-anxiety medicine and antidepressants. I see a psychiatrist every couple of weeks and a therapist twice a week.
Some days are better than others. Today is a bad day. I usually don’t know why one day is good and one day is bad. Today should be good. My husband is home after being away for a week. But today I can’t stop crying. This tends to happen on weekends because I wish my husband and I could go and come as we please. But we can’t because we have a child and he eats and sleeps at specific times.
We just drove my sister to the airport. She stayed with me while Jason was away. My mom thinks my anxiety and depression get worse when someone leaves. Then we just took Mason for a walk in the park. Activity or movement usually helps my feelings, especially the anxiety. It didn’t.
My new thing that I do and I did it at the park, is that I look at everyone and in my head I say, “Kids or no kids?” And I’m so jealous of the couples without kids. It’s awful to feel like this. Why did I decide to have a child? Our life was good before. Apparently that is the PPD talking. And everyone assures me this is normal and I will get better. What if I don’t?
I wrote that almost four years ago today. And today, as the mom of a four-year old, I can tell you it did get better. I got better. It’s crazy to even think that’s how I felt back then. I can’t believe I didn’t want my son when I couldn’t picture my life now without him. I love him fiercely.
I love being his mom. He is my little buddy, just like my mom promised he would be. I still take an antidepressant every morning when I wake up and that’s okay. I am happy, healthy, and not ashamed by my illness. I know that it was the postpartum depression that convinced me I didn’t want to be a mom. I am an incredible mom. A loving, compassionate, strong, brave, real, badass mom.
I must have saved that notebook for a reason. Maybe I kept it as a reminder of what I went through and how horrible I felt in that first year. Or to help me remember my strength and how hard I fought to beat the illness that tried to steal motherhood from me. Or to show me how far I’ve come four years later.
I would like to think the real reason I saved that notebook is so I could share its contents with other new moms who might be experiencing those same feelings and need some concrete proof that they are normal, not alone, and will get better. If you are one of those moms, I’m telling you now, you are normal, not alone, and it will get better. You may not believe me right now (it took me a long time to believe too), but I’m your living proof.
This post originally appeared on Motherlucker.
At some point, all of us will know a new mom suffering from some form of postpartum depression. It’s up to all of us to educate ourselves so no new mom suffers in silence. Click here to receive your free copy of my WTF are Postpartum Depression and Anxiety: The Friends and Family Guide For How to Help, What to Do and What Not to Say.