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Almost 22 years ago, I experienced postpartum mania, which resulted in a neuropsychiatric hospitalization for 11 days. My resting heart rate was 185 beats per minute, I hadn’t slept more than an hour a night for almost a whole month, and without the rest and hospitalization, I could have died. If these experiences are the price I had to pay to bring my beautiful child into the world (and gain compassion and empathy for others who experience postpartum mental illness), I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Through this experience, I gained compassion for people who live with the stigma of mental illness. We had friends who never spoke to us again. It also brought some of my closest friends closer to me, and I have felt their strength throughout the years.

Each delivery and baby is completely different, and I’m so happy I didn’t have any problems with our next two children. Nonetheless, the insight I gained on what women go through to bring children into this world is immeasurable. It’s part of my story, and I’m hoping my experience can help others know that they’re going to be okay. Don’t be afraid to get help–we’re stronger than we think we are.