For the last several years, I have been in a fog that has increasingly thickened. Becoming a mother was difficult for me; I remember being angry at my son because he had taken away my independence. I prayed for guidance, but I was just so exhausted that it was difficult to see things clearly. I could no longer take a nap, work out, or travel without advanced planning (even then, it was rare that I had time to do something for myself). I felt guilty for being angry at my son, while also being consumed with the most powerful feeling of love and a desire to protect him. It was very confusing.
I had always wanted to breastfeed, and while pregnant, I was looking forward to that bond and the gift that only I would be able to give my son. I passionately read and studied several books to feel prepared to nurse him. When my son was born, I failed to produce milk. I did everything that I could, but still I would not produce–I was pleading for my body to work correctly. I met with lactation support nurses and was put on a medication to help me produce milk because I did not want to give him formula. On top of this, my son struggled with latching and over the course of a week he started to starve. I was mad at him for not being part of our team. I felt like he had let me down by not nursing and that my body had let him down by not producing. I worried about the additives in formula and the idea that my son wouldn’t receive the benefits of breastfeeding. I bought into a lot of the shame that was being pushed onto me be by the media, my family, and my cultural identity. As a result, my anxiety and depression began to increase over time.
After having a second baby, I started meeting with a therapist because I realized that my sadness was incredibly persistent and affecting how I experienced life. Although I felt like I was being weak, I began to take a prescribed medication. In spite of feeling anxious about the potential side effects, I dutifully took the medicine for two months with no relief. The medication did not work for me, but I persisted and tried another. I recently started a low dose combination of two different medications, and I am slowly starting to feel better. It is hard to feel hopeful, when in reality I have so many doubts, but I do trust my counselor.
To the person reading this, my message is simple: you are enough. You are enough right now as you are–feeling so alone, misunderstood, guilty and laying in bed wishing that you could sleep forever because you are so very tired. You are not defined by these feelings that you are experiencing. It is terrible, but it will get better. You may not want to ask for help, but tell someone close to you about what you are experiencing. You cannot pray your way out of these feelings or fix this yourself. You are not weak for asking for help–instead, you are so very brave. Talk to a counselor or a psychiatrist, and even try a medication until you find one that works. Starting medication does not have to mean you will be on medication forever. You will feel better; it will take some time, but hang in there. Keep trying even though you feel so completely worn out because people need you; I need you. We need to know that we are not alone in our experiences. Show yourself more kindness and less judgment; treat yourself in whatever way you can! Your life may be difficult right now, but you are doing the very best that you can. Most of all, know that you are loved.