Writing is such a therapeutic exercise and that’s where this idea of a postpartum depression letter came about.
If you have been through postpartum depression, I know what it’s like and you are not alone.
I look back on the first few months of my daughter’s life and it makes me sad sometimes.
I feel like I missed out because mentally I wasn’t there. I can see it on my face in pictures, I can remember it so vividly.
The feelings of hopelessness, of sadness. The trouble sleeping and eating and concentrating. Struggling to take care of myself.
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It’s been over a year since I started taking medication for postpartum depression.
Admitting I needed help was hard, but once I started actually getting help, I wished I had done it sooner.
Things are so much better now than they were a year ago, but talking about postpartum depression still isn’t easy for me. In some ways, it feels like admitting I failed or something.
Like admitting I wasn’t okay those first few months shows that I’m not strong enough to have a child. That taking medication for my mental health is bad.
So, in an attempt to make it easier for me to talk about, I wrote a postpartum depression letter to my past self describing some of the hard parts, the dark parts, and the light at the end of the tunnel.
And, If you are struggling, just know you are not alone. You are not a failure, you are not weak and you are not a bad mother.
My heart goes out to you and I’m happy to talk if you need a friend.
I know it’s hard today. I’m sorry you couldn’t sleep last night because your brain wouldn’t shut off. I’m sorry Madison didn’t sleep well either. You’re not a bad mom and it’s not your fault.
But, I know you don’t believe that right now. I know you feel like you weren’t cut out for this mom thing. That maybe you shouldn’t have had a kid. That your daughter would be better off without you.
I know you feel like you are trapped in a ship that sank to the bottom of the ocean. Closed off with no escape. The air pockets are running out. You feel alone.
I know you think your daughter would be better off without you. That no one needs you…your husband, your family, your friends.
I know it’s scary to admit those thoughts. So scary and so hard. Because it feels like no one gets it. No one understands what it’s like…not even you.
You’ve never been here before.
You’ve never been this low and it’s hard to explain what it feels like because you’ve never know someone with postpartum depression.
They ask you to tell them how you are feeling. The doctors, your friends, your parents…your husband. But how are you supposed to explain something you don’t even understand?
I know it’s hard today, Katie, but all I can say is just keep going. Just keep pushing through it. It will get better.
One night you will confess everything to your husband. It will be sad and scary and you will cry a lot. But, he will hug you and tell you it’s okay. He will push you to start taking care of yourself.
You won’t listen at first…like you always do. You will try to just “act” like things are better. But they aren’t, and he sees that.
He always sees that.
He has always seen you in a way no one else ever has and it’s hard because it means you can’t hide.
You can’t hide the bad from him like you can from other people. He sees right through you; he sees your soul.
That’s scary too, to have someone that sees you so clearly. That knows when you are not okay even if you won’t admit it to yourself.
But one day, you do admit it to yourself. You do listen and you realize what you have to do, what you really need.
You thought having someone make dinner or let you take a nap or do your laundry was going to fix things.
And it was all helpful, but it wasn’t what YOU needed; what YOUR soul needed.
You needed medication. You needed a therapist. You needed to focus on your mental health because that’s the self-care you needed. You just didn’t realize it before.
And, that’s okay.
It’s okay that it took a while to figure out it was postpartum depression.
Because the important thing is you did eventually figure it out.
Once you start taking medicine, your brain becomes less foggy. Your mind starts to feel clearer and you start feeling like yourself again. You start to actually sleep at night. Maybe it’s only for 2-3 hours at a time because Madison still isn’t sleeping well, but you feel so much better with even just those chunks of actual sleep.
You start to realize that you can do the laundry and make dinner and be a mom. Your confidence starts to build and you start to love yourself again.
And then one day you discover that Madison isn’t getting enough milk off of you anymore. So, you switch to pumping exclusively.
Katie, pumping exclusively will be the best decision you have ever made as a mom…well except for maybe taking that medication.
You will get on a pumping schedule, a nap schedule, a life schedule.
Madison will start sleeping better; you will start sleeping better; your husband will start sleeping better.
It will feel like it always should have felt from the beginning.
Katie, I know it’s hard today, but I’m here to tell you that it gets better. So much better. Better than you could have ever imagined it would be.
All you have to do is hold on and take that first step. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid to take the medication. Don’t be afraid to talk about it.
You’re not a failure. You’re a good mom, a great mom. And, you love your daughter.
Katie, it will get better, just hang in there and be honest.
I love you and you are a good mom.
I’ve listed resources below if you are struggling with postpartum depression.
I’ve personally used some of these, like my local La Leche League, and they are really wonderful.
You don’t have to suffer alone and you don’t have to hide anything.
I encourage you to write a postpartum depression letter to yourself too.
Be open, be honest, be vulnerable.
That’s the point of this exercise of writing a postpartum depression letter, and I know you have it rolling around in your head (you just read what was swirling around in mine above).
You aren’t alone and you are a good mom.
If you need support at any time, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK or the National Postpartum Depression Hotline at 1-800-PPD-MOMS.
There are also some great resources and support groups out there on Instagram too. Here are a few of my favorites that offer a variety of resources or services:
Other resources that may be helpful if you are struggling include:
National Breastfeeding Helpline:
La Leche League International:
Job Accommodations Network:
Child Care Aware: