I was a vibrant person. I was free. I worked out every day, I shopped for new clothes frequently. I treated myself to lunch and dinner dates with my friends, took naps when I was tired. I loved cuddling up and watching Law and Order SVU while painting my toenails and eating peanut butter cups. I was the weirdo that loved opening up my windows in the spring, turning on the radio and cleaning my house so that I could put up all of the crafts and decorations that I had made in my spare time. Car rides were great because I was always the person rocking out a little too much with my music blaring and my sunroof open, drink of choice in the cup holder. I like to think that I was one of those people that others wanted to be around. I knew who I was. I knew what was important to me and what I stood for. I felt like I had a purpose and was accomplishing things as the days went by. I was the person that wanted to stay up late watching movies and go to Sonic to get a slushy at 1:00 a.m. I was so carefree at that time and I felt so much happiness in my day to day living.
After getting married my eyes were always locked on those super cute baby bumps that I saw while out and about. I was always watching the moms talking to their babies while they were at the grocery store like they could understand them. I loved holding babies. Their smell was the best and those little toes were absolutely irresistible. We waited as long as I felt like I possibly could and then we started trying to make a little family a reality for ourselves. Soon I was pregnant. I was the one with the baby bump that strangers were always touching and seeing as how I was already a bad sleeper, you can only imagine how I was sleeping now. But, nonetheless, I was going to be a mommy! I kept imagining this sense of purpose that I had always been so excited to feel! How perfect would it be knowing that those children needed me in a way that no one else ever would? I wish I would have known that I was about to take on the world's most thankless job in the world. I wish someone would have told me that instead of improving my sense of purpose, it was possible that being a mom might actually make purpose more of a distant memory.
Our baby came home and things were so different. Getting into the swing of things was a little harder than I expected it to be but soon we had a routine and things were going great. A few short months had passed when I started feeling consistently down. I was always asking myself why, when I was supposed to be on cloud 9, I was struggling to crawl out of bed in the morning. I was confused about why I couldn't look at my child without feeling resentful when he was the most beautiful gift I could have ever been given. The brightness that I had expected to come from being a mom was a little darker than I had imagined it would be. I wasn't enjoying things the way that other moms told me that I should and the guilt was overwhelming.
I soon became resentful of my husband. Can you believe that? My extremely busy, never-has-a second-to-himself husband was soon the target of my imaginary laser beam eyes. I was so jealous that he got to leave the house every day. That he got to go and have lunch with his co-workers. He got to talk with other adults and socialize. His day-to-day varied in ways that I could have only dreamed that mine would. I felt trapped in every way. Having two kids now my days never changed from the same old schedule. I woke up in the morning to a screaming baby and a hungry 4-year-old. We ate breakfast I cleaned the dishes, I cleaned the house, I did the laundry, I did more dishes, I fed them lunch, I made dinner, I cleaned some more, I did more laundry, I mediated fights, I fed them dinner, I did more dishes, I put them in the shower, I attempted to read them a book, I mediated more arguments, I put them to bed, did some last minute cleaning and then with every ounce of energy I had left I crawled into bed so that the next day I could repeat myself.
I felt my vibrancy leave me. I wasn't the ray of sunshine that I was always so proud of being. There were so many days that I couldn't remember how long it had been since I showered, or since I had actually taken time to put on my makeup. The gym which was once my place of solace soon became somewhere that I drove by on my way to the grocery store dreading my shopping trip. My nights of painting my nails and watching something that wasn't animated were over because I just didn't have the energy to do it by the time the opportunity presented itself.
What was my purpose? Was it really my job in life to follow these little humans around picking up the same toys day in and day out forever? Was my purpose really to make sure that they got showered and fed while I was going on three days without a shower and I hadn't eaten all day because I was busy? I continued to push these thoughts to the back of my mind convincing myself that I was selfish for feeling this way, but one day the thoughts that I had been ignoring consumed me. I could hear my children saying that they were hungry but the energy that it required to feed them seemed a million miles away. I looked around my house at the bins of laundry that needed to be done and searched for at least a piece of the floor that was visible through the mess and I broke down.
I don't think that it's necessary to tell you about my fight or the day to day that comes with the baby blues or postpartum depression. What I do think is necessary is to explain that you are important. That this role that you've taken on as mom is important. I know that sometimes it's hard to convince yourself to get out of bed in the morning because facing your day makes you feel like your going to implode. I know how it feels to hide in the bathroom, not just to get a second to yourself, but because your thoughts scare you. I know what it's like to feel like you've lost who you are and what is important to you as an individual to the title of being mom. I know the guilt that you feel for feeling this way. I know that you feel selfish and that sometimes that makes it worse. I know that you either eat your feelings or you don't eat at all. I understand and I want you to know that you are not alone.
I wish that someone would have told me about the dark parts of being mom. I wish that there would have been someone that sat me down and explained that sometimes you lose yourself in what is required of you. Sometimes it's not even postpartum that gets you but rather the loss of time that you get to spend alone. The lack of money that you have to buy yourself a treat for your hard work. Sometimes it's sleepless nights, the endless days, the 6 lunches that you tried to feed your kids that all went to waste. It's the time you lose with your spouse, it's the time that you can't go out with the girls. I wish that these beautiful angels would have come with a disclaimer and a warning that things could and would get a little bit more tough than I think I was ready for.
But here is the rainbow to this doomy gloomy post, there is help for the now and it does come to an end because those little ones will soon be grown. The person that you felt like you used to be is still the person that you are but maybe in different ways. My children aren't new babies anymore and while I may feel like I'm beyond that darker time in my life for now these are the things that I found saved me from being completely consumed.
1. Know that you are more than just mom. Those little ones depend on you for everything I know, but sometimes it's easy to forget that you are an individual with needs and feelings and passions. Those things require to be explored otherwise you find yourself feeling empty inside. You work hard. Harder than anyone that you'll ever meet and you deserve to be rewarded for that. Ask a neighbor or a friend to watch your kids for an hour and ABUSE THAT HOUR! Go to the gym, take a drive, get your nails done, get a massage, sit in your car and rock out to your favorite throwback music. Do whatever it takes to continuously remind yourself of who you are and what you love.
2. Exercise and Eat Healthy. There is so much stress that can build up inside of you that desperately needs to find a way out. It's like a disease and it will continue to spread until it's under control. Whether you choose to do yoga, run, stretch, lift weights or take your kids for a long walk, get out and get moving. Eating healthy is hard. There you go, I said it. It's hard and it sucks. However, you will find that what you put into your body will play a large part in the energy levels that you carry throughout the day as well as how you feel.
3. Watch your children sleep for 5 minutes. That's it. After they fall asleep, which I know sometimes is the best part of the day that you just had, just watch them. There is something about your sleeping child that tends to help you remember just how beautiful they are. You get 5 quiet minutes where they can't interrupt your thoughts to remind yourself that they are only children. I always found myself getting lost in the memories of them as they've grown. Don't take more than 5 because remember, you need your time. I can promise that if you'll take those short minutes, you will feel a refreshed love and appreciation for your sweet babies.
4. See a doctor. I am not one that will immediately tell someone to run to a doctor because I always feel that there are other ways and means to resolve feelings and thoughts. However, there are a lot of times when seeing a doctor will allow you to start winning the war that is raging inside of you. Life was never meant to be miserable forever. There are moments in your life that are waiting to be enjoyed. If you feel that your thoughts are scary and beyond your control or that you can't find joy in your day to day, please seek the help that I can promise you from experience will open your eyes to the joys this life has to offer.
Remember that you are important and that while being mom is the most amazing gift you could ever have asked to be blessed with, there is more to you than this special title. There is a vibrant, beautiful, smart person under the stresses that you feel. So yes, while I am the mom of 2 beautiful boys and the wife of one amazing husband and the maid, and the accountant and the personal shopper and the personal banker and the doctor and the chef and the therapist and the taxi driver and so much more, I am still Chelsie, and I don't deserve to be forgotten.
If you are experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression, please reach out to your doctor.
If you -- or someone you know -- need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.