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Disclaimer: The following article mentions the topic of suicide or other sensitive subjects, which may trigger negative thoughts and feelings for those currently suffering or still recovering from a mental or mood disorder. Reader discretion is advised.

I had never heard of postpartum depression before I experienced it. During my pregnancy, I was constantly warned about what to eat, how life-changing motherhood would be, possible complications, and what to expect during labor–no one ever mentioned postpartum depression.

My pregnancy was incredibly difficult. I was diagnosed with preeclampsia at 27 weeks and had multiple weekly visits to the doctor. Labor was also difficult. I experienced 48 hours of pain and sickness while also receiving oxygen because both my heartbeat and the baby’s were dropping. Finally, my son was born, and I was in love.

However, very soon after his birth, I noticed dark, scary, and intrusive thoughts. I doubted myself and my abilities as a mother. I cried constantly and hated everything, including myself. I didn’t want to eat, couldn’t sleep, and didn’t feel I could take care of my son. I was a pit of chaos, a cave of sadness and despair. As time went on, the hole became deeper and darker; I grew distant from not only my significant other, but my sweet baby. I went down a dark path of drugs and bad decisions. I attempted to take my life 4 times. I finally realized I desperately needed help and placed myself into inpatient psychiatric care. It was the best decision I could have made.

Today, I am glad I sought help. Today I sit with my beautiful child and think of how grateful I am to have this wonderful gift from God. I am blessed. Today I still struggle, but I am thriving and surviving. I am living life to the fullest with my sweet son, and he is my world.

For those of you who are struggling, please know there is always a way; there is always hope. I encourage every one of you to seek help and share your experiences. Do not be ashamed or afraid. The light is there–you just have to look for it.