I recently did an interview about my experiences with postnatal depression, and I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting and reliving my journey. I was surprised it had stirred up some emotions, but it’s also helped me heal and make peace with myself.
I have been reading and watching things online which I have found inspiring. I came across a clip of an Oprah Life Class show recently and there was something I really related to regarding my life over the past 3/4 years. It was about the power of forgiveness – how forgiving doesn’t mean you are accepting that what happened to you is ok, it is accepting that it has happened and how can you now move on from it.
There were two quotes which instantly I felt related to my journey with maternal mental illness.
The first one was –
“Let go of the path you wanted”
This is something I did for a long time, I held onto the “ideal fantasy” I had in my head of what being a mother would be. I was so desperately heartbroken and angry that this wasn’t what I experienced.
Instead of baby classes, cuddles, baking cakes and coffee mornings, it was the complete opposite. I was lonely, anxious, scared to leave my home and consumed with depression. I was so angry that I didn’t have what I thought was ‘perfect’ and I resented myself and my illness for snatching away my precious first years with my baby. I had dreamt all my life about being a mother, I imagined how I believed it would be, the reality wasn’t even close to the dream but I still couldn’t let go of it.
Then with my next two children I again had postnatal depression and anxiety. I grieved for the experiences I never had, I held on to that “perfect” image with each baby, never having them manifest- all this did was create more internal anger and resentment.
Another quote which hit home was –
“It’s letting go so the past doesn’t hold you prisoner”
This makes perfect sense to me. I was being held prisoner by my past, my illness, and by my unattainable ‘perfect’ dream. I am recovered but something lingered, I still felt mournful for the past I felt I had lost.
It made me realise that I’m recovered in the sense that I no longer have depression, I’ve mostly overcome my anxiety, although it’s something I believe will always be with me, but I am continually healing and growing from what has been a life changing experience.
Over the past year I’ve been working continually on my support groups, my social media accounts which support others with maternal mental illness and recently starting the process of becoming a charity. But just as importantly, in that time I’ve made peace with my own journey. I didn’t experience a wonderful start to motherhood, but I needed to make peace and let go of that to be able to move on and enjoy the future with my children and husband.
Here’s the clip which I reference in my blog post incase anyone wanted to watch –
I have also found Brené Brown books inspiring, she touches many subjects but her work on vulnerability and messages of “I am enough” are great reads.