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I wish I had known beforehand how hard parenting would be, and I wish someone else had given me permission to struggle. I was terrified of labor for months, but in all honesty, my main thought after getting an epidural was that it was totally doable. But, I was unprepared for how overwhelmed I was the minute my baby girl was born. I loved her tremendously, but almost immediately after her birth I was hit with a drowning wave of anxiety. As the days progressed, I lost my appetite, the ability to enjoy shows and books, and I couldn’t sleep due to my racing mind. When my baby slept, I spent those quiet hours dreading when she would wake up. I was terrified of being alone with her. I stopped smiling. I wasn’t sure if this life as a mom was what I wanted after all, and I was ashamed for feeling this way.

After a week, I realized I was suffering with anxiety akin to what I had in high school, and I called my doctor. I wasn’t sure if I was overreacting, but apparently I was under-reacting. They got me into the office as soon as possible, and I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. With counseling and medication, I started to combat the darkness.

It’s taken weeks, and there are still times when I’m not 100% ok. But, I am far away from that horrible, dark place. My family and siblings supported me until I felt comfortable being alone with the baby for short periods of time. The medicine began working. I made sure I went on a walk every day to get some sunshine. I visited a therapist often and learned self-compassion. I felt the hand of God and heard His voice through the charity and support I received. Life is so, so much better.

I just want to give you the permission I wish I had given myself: IT’S OK TO HATE THE FIRST FEW WEEKS. To be honest, they’re pretty miserable. It’s ok to be unsure of how you feel about your baby, your new life, and even who you are. It’s ok for it to take time for you to bond with your baby. It’s ok to be frustrated, resentful, and overwhelmed. This doesn’t make you bad — it just means you’re going through a shocking life change. Be patient with yourself, and don’t force yourself to be more or feel more than you do.

It really does get better; I finally feel happy again. I’m starting to really enjoy my baby, and I’m feeling my confidence growing. Be gentle with yourself. Love yourself. Don’t stay in the dark place because help is there and healing really is possible. Don’t wait.