A note of thanks to my friend and fellow PPD survivor/advocate, Maria, who was gracious in letting me share this letter she wrote last week during Maternal Mental Health Week, and I happened to see it on my feed and totally loved it. This letter has inspired me to write my own letter to my younger self, which I hope to share soon.
If you are suffering from a postpartum mood disorder right now, please be comforted in knowing there are so many more moms like Maria and me that have suffered and overcome PPD only to become much stronger and empowered women. You will down the road be able to write–and perhaps even share–your own letters to your younger selves as well.
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Dear Younger Maria (2009):
You are going to be okay.
You’re in hell now,
but you’re going to plug along
and find your way out.
It isn’t going to be easy
and it isn’t going to be pretty,
but soon after this photo was taken
you will summon the courage to reach out for help.
You will call the nurse manager in your obstetrician’s office
and in between sobs and heaving breaths,
you will slowly and fully tell her how you think something is wrong.
How you feel nothing when you hold your daughter
and you cry all the time.
How you only want to hide in a locked closet or a locked bathroom,
and in fact that is often what you do
once the kids are asleep or with a babysitter.
You are barely functioning but you are doing it.
You are doing it mama.
And those babies love you.
And you are an amazing mother.
And you are going to shine so brightly.
Just hold on,
trust in yourself,
lean on your trusted friends,
and always remember that
you are worthy of more than this feeling.
More than this heart-wrenching,
and stifling loneliness.
This emptiness that consumes you will subside,
and soon you will find
a version of yourself that will set you free.
Be brave sweet mama.
I am so proud you.
Older Maria (2019)