12:01pm. That’s the time I finally got out of bed yesterday, with the exception of one time to use the bathroom, because, pregnant.
The only food eaten by that time was about a quarter of a box of cheese-itz. Outside of pregnancy, I don’t even like cheese-itz, and honestly eating just happens to feel like the biggest inconvenience right now. But, my body is also trying to sustain a life that is not my own. So, I forced the crackers mindlessly into my mouth while laying in my bed.
The last several days have been horrible. I have cried so much. I wake each morning dehydrated, because crying for hours straight does nothing but drain your body of necessary resources.
I’m 32.5 weeks pregnant, and my hormones and my anti-depressant are playing tug of war with my mind, body, and spirit.
I’m writing to share this because so many people out there suffer. Mommas suffer in pregnancy & postpartum. Some people suffer with chronic illness, and others suffer with other mental health issues.
There are days or weeks when simply getting out of bed is an accomplishment. Where forcing crackers into our mouths is the best way we can think of to keep ourselves going as we make our way to the next real meal we may or may not be prepared to eat. Where changing clothes literally takes every ounce of energy we have in our reserves.
So, what do we need? What do I need, during the really low times, when it just gets to me?
- Support. To know there are people on my side. Even if its just to lay in bed next to me like my husband did last night while I just cried. Or, my mom coming over to help with a seemingly small problem that I just couldn’t handle.
- Don’t put unnecessary expectations forward, especially if you know what is happening for me right now. I was due for a play date with friends today. They accommodated when I said I couldn’t leave my house…unfortunately, we all happened to wake up sick today – tis the season, y’all – but, there were no expectations beyond just getting together. Where was less important. But, don’t ask too much of someone in this situation. They may only have the energy to get to their couch and hit a button on their remote. They may be in too much pain to even do that. Don’t require more of them than they can give, and if you don’t know what that is, ask.
- Check on them. Ask them how they are. Don’t let them be alone in their pain. If you know a new momma, or someone [recently] diagnosed with a chronic illness, or someone who struggles with another mental illness, don’t leave them in their pain alone. Ask them how they are doing…not their baby. Not their spouse. Ask how they themselves are doing and if they need anything.
- Let.Them.Be. If they physically or emotionally can’t leave the house, don’t force them. If they physically or emotionally can’t get out of bed, don’t force them. Encourage healthy habits. Encourage they take their meds, sleep well, eat right. Absolutely, keep an eye on them. But, some days, just let them be. Sit with them as they are wrapped up like a burrito in a blanket. Let them cry. Or be silent.
- Don’t take it personally. If you’ve never experienced a chronic illness or postpartum depression/anxiety, or another mental health issue; or if you’ve never really been around it, some of the behavior may seem odd, silly, or rude. It’s not. Don’t take it personally. The person you’re dealing with is going through something that isn’t going to be better overnight. Practice grace & patience, that they may not even have for themselves. And, don’t take it personally.
I know I don’t speak for everyone in these situations, but I also know many who feel this way. Some who feel this way may be hesitant or fearful to express their needs, their desires, their struggles, to those around them. But, much of this needs to be said, at the very least, for me.
Postpartum depression and anxiety is one of the worst things I’ve faced. I learned a little about them in school, but didn’t know how intense they could get. I didn’t know it was also something I could deal with while pregnant. That not everyone’s pregnancy is all roses and rainbows (more on that in my post in a few days). I wish someone had told me that.
New mommas, if you’re feeling anywhere close to this, you’re not alone. Try not to go through it alone. Find support, find love, find hope. Hope is there.
And, if you know a new momma, don’t impose on her, don’t give her a lot of expectations, don’t shame her. But, check on her. Give her love. Give her support. Tell her she’s doing a good job. Maybe offer to wash her dishes or make her a meal.
And, if you are someone going through a chronic illness or mental illness, the same applies. You’re not alone. We’re all on this journey together. Find support, find love, find hope. Or, be love, be support, be hope.
Until tomorrow, I’ll leave you with this: Be kind. You may not know the darkness someone else is battling. So, be kind.