An Open Letter to My Loved Ones

Dear loved ones,

It isn’t anyone’s fault I ended up having Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders after my son’s birth, nor have I done anything wrong while suffering from this illness. I know surviving this has affected me in a number of ways and I imagine it has affected you in a variety of ways.

For that, I am sorry.

I’m sorry I wasn’t honest with you.

I’m sorry I kept you out.

I’m sorry if I hurt you.

I wasn’t well and wasn’t able to do more than I did at the time. Denial was present before I had any clue what was happening to me followed by intense confusion and all consuming fear. I wanted so badly to believe I was ok, I could do this mom thing, and the hard times would pass. I wanted it so badly I tried to fake it till I made it. I only started to make it when I stopped faking it.

I was lost within myself. My thoughts and feelings terrified me to the point where I couldn’t believe anyone else could handle them. I kept you at a distance because the thought of horrifying you with how I felt or losing your love as a result of my feelings was far too much to bear.

None of what happened is a reflection on you or the love you have shown me. It speaks to what mental illness and trauma can do to a person. My postpartum anxiety,depression, and PTSD altered my perception of everything including what I know to be true about myself and all of you.

You’d give me the world if you could and do anything to make sure I was ok. These facts weren’t in my mind for a while but were always in my heart. When I started to put myself back together again, I began to remember the truth.

The truth is you were with me through the darkest and scariest hours, the smiles I faked, the lies I told, the times of real joy and fun, and the moment I accepted what was happening to me. My being able to come to acceptance of my illness, receive treatment, and share it with you speaks to who you are in my life and the love you’ve shown me.

Please understand that PMADs are a complex beast to war with and it takes a strength, determination, and resilience you don’t know you have until you start digging for it. It wasn’t that I wanted to be how I was or treat you as I did; I was in deep pain and survival mode. What I thought I needed the least I needed the most – a tribe of other mothers who shared my experience. I needed to be in this community to begin my healing then carry it out into my life with you. It couldn’t work the other way around.

Please know my struggle wasn’t your fault. None of us were properly educated in PMADs and, even if we had been, it may have all played out the same way. I was so panicked from the depths of my being that I strapped on a mask and held it in place as tightly as I could. If you saw past my mask and have any regrets about how you handled that moment, please try to let it go.

It is unknown to me whether or not you having said something or done differently if I could’ve received it. I do know now it is worth it to ask questions of a mom and say you’re concerned when you are even if it appears to fall on deaf ears. We can never know what might stick in a person’s mind and how they may use it later on.

Please hold onto the fact that your love and acceptance of me is what helped me climb out of the darkness and re-emerge back into our life.

Thank you for never giving up on me.

I love you.

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