Yay! Susan is here! (I love her twitter name: @learndhappiness) with her very own Rainy Day Letter.
What a sweet, wise letter. I particularly care for the list of good moments which can act as evidence and proof that you are undeniably a good mother. Having such a list is really good for those times when the PPDemons are trying to mess with you.
Passing the mic to Susan:
I adore my #ppdchat mamas. ADORE. I haven’t met any of them in person (yet!), but our common struggle has become our bond. There’s a safety in the anonymity of the internet, and although I don’t post anonymously per say, these women aren’t involved in my daily life. They don’t know my friends and family, and because of that separation, I can say things to them I might not say to anyone else. Also? They get it. Really get it. As much as my IRL support network may try to understand, unless they have lived with a postpartum mood or anxiety disorder, there will always be a part of me those folks will have to wonder about.
Not only to these mamas know just what to say, their stories resonate with me, giving me a sense of belonging and worth. I admire them for who they are as mothers and women – their struggles do not diminish their worth in my eyes – so why should I allow myself to feel any differently about me?
Story’s Rainy Day Letter (posted on PPD to Joy) struck a chord with me. She asks only for Peace and Purpose, giving herself permission to be who she is and to have bad days, while making a point to remember her progress. What a beautiful idea, inspired by Yael’s post, The Opportunities in Setbacks, to write a letter to yourself to come back to when your truth is mangled by depression and anxiety rules your heart.
I hold so much hope that PPD will not take me away from myself and my family after baby girl #2 is born. I am beginning to feel more confident that the antenatal depression is managed and that I will continue to not just survive, but thrive, as I have been. But I don’t want to be naive. Depression is a sneaky SOB that warps your reality, twisting the truth until you aren’t sure who you are anymore.
My defense? Knowledge. Preparation. Medication. An army of doctors. Support of loved ones, on and off-line. And this: my rainy day letter:
You are amazing.
Think back to before DB was born. Remember the self-doubt, the anxiety, and the perfectionism. And as painful as it is, think back to DB’s newborn days. I know you can still vividly recall the panic, the tears, and the rage. You took all of that…that wretched ugliness…and created something beautiful. It was you who put the time and energy (and honesty) into therapy to climb out of the despair. You chose to fight. And because of it, you have found a life of deeper meaning, complete with balance and joy, not just for yourself, but for your husband and your daughter. You are amazing.
Life is good, and you have proof. Search your memory. Remember… cradling an infant DB in your arms and playing her like a banjo while music played in the background. The day DB took her first steps. Watching your brother defy gravity on his wakeboard. The magic of your husband’s first real Christmas tree. Reconnecting with old friends. Crying by the fountains in Vegas with your husband. “Ah-ha” moments with your students. Zucchini carrot muffins. The perfect mix of green and brown in her eyes. Taking DB trick-or-treating in her cowgirl costume. Making neighboring tables uncomfortable during dinner dates with your bestie. Hosting an amazing piano recital and seeing the pride on the faces of each family as their child created music. Feeling Baby #2 kick. Teaching your daughter about death. Standing in Harvard Yard, watching DB try to “fix” the tree by putting fallen branches and stick into holes in the bark. Yoga class. Chipotle shrimp and fried avocado. The sound of your trees swaying in the wind. Dancing in the living room. Watching your husband light up. Life is good. Because of you.
There may come a day when yet again, your days are darkened with fear and anxiety, and everything you know to be true seems like a series of elaborately-conceived lies. Don’t believe them or listen to the self-doubt. Seek out the truth. Believe your friends and family. Believe yourself – everything you’ve written is a testament to your journey. Though you never knew you could be so brave, so self-aware, or so resilient, you have come back from hell not once, but twice…and have created a life for yourself and your family filled with hope and love. And if you need to, you can do it again. You are amazing.
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Don’t you just love it?
I was touched by how she describes that when she meets other struggling mamas online “their struggles do not diminish their worth in my eyes – so why should I allow myself to feel any differently about me?”
Exactly! This is the reason behind offering this collection of letters here: so we can be inspired by each other, and find that our compassion towards others can also be applied to ourselves. Thank you Susan for articulating this so well.
Susan bloggs at learnedhappiness.wordpress.com/
Go say hello.
Talk to Susan, talk to me, talk to you.
Tell her: what parts of her letter touched you?
Tell me: what do you need to hear when you are down?
Tell you: what do you love about you most? How can that help you feel better when you are in a slump?
You are welcome to share your rainy day letter with me and, if you wish, I would be honored to share it here on the blog.
Inspired? Want more? Take a look at Rach’s Letter and Story’s Letter and Jessica’s letter.
As always, all the love in the world to all who read.
Whether you comment or not, may the joy be with you.