This week I’m doing something that I chose, know is the right thing to do, and am seriously scared. How can all of that go together? How can there be fear in doing what I know is best? In short, because I’m not in control of the outcome.
I’m being interviewed for a feature in a local magazine where I will publicly share my story of postpartum depression. Y’all it’s going out into the world and there might be people who think I’m a wimp, should have pulled myself up by my bootstraps, and all around don’t believe I could have possibly had voices in my head. Up to this point, I’ve been more guarded with whom I have shared my experience. It is scorching to hear:
“Mothers have been having babies for hundreds years and they all got through it. Why didn’t you?” (That one isn’t even true!)
“I loved having babies. You should have enjoyed it more.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t have had a baby if you didn’t want to go through that.”
A couple of people have told me I’m brave, but you know what? I’m not! I pretty much want to crap my pants. That’s like the exact opposite of brave. Brave is where you are bigger than your fears and more powerful than any pain that could come your way. Yep. That’s not me. My mind races with all of the negative consequences that could result from taking my experience from a private one to a public one. I have a vivid imagination, too!
Why don’t I just bail? That’s not exactly me. Once I give my word to do something, I try to move mountains in the face of adversity to make it happen. In this case, there is no heavy lifting. I am just telling my truth. Hopefully my story will make one other woman feel less alone. Best case scenario, I give someone hope that the darkness in which they writhe will end and the suffering will eventually wane. Maybe my courage will cause someone else to tell her story.
I’m sharing the darkest days of my life this week for my daughter. That someday when (if) she has babies of her own, postpartum depression will be accepted by society in the same way cancer is… a disease that ravages the body, mind, and soul, but with treatment can be eliminated. Perhaps in 30 years, doctors and nurses will be more consistently screening for symptoms, so that Littles or her friends aren’t isolated in shame. She and her fellow mommas will have things to say to each other if they suffer, like those who rallied around me:
“This isn’t your fault.”
“You’re a great mom.”
“You will get better.”
“You aren’t alone.”
“Your baby/family/friends need you. You are irreplaceable.”
“It is tough, but the fight will be worth it.”
“You are surrounded in love.”
“You don’t have to be brave.”
While I feel small right now, I’m digging deep to find my courage fueled by the desire to help others and maybe even be a single drop in the bucket of something that can change the world. I may not be brave, but my courage if fierce.