Going back through all my posts about mental health in the last two weeks was like digging up a time capsule. Did you ever do one of those in school? I assembled one my freshman year and when it was returned to me 4 years later, I almost didn’t recognize the “me” I had locked away. I blog because the words want to spill out of me – because placing them here and sharing them brings me peace. But looking back, the icing on the cake is that I have a record of my recovery.
When people ask about my experience having a second baby after experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety, I tell them that my second baby was the pregnancy and postpartum period I felt robbed of the first time around. I share how I have never frightened my 2 year old with the rage my oldest had to face. (On a side note, Robin is writing about rage on Postpartum Progress today. It’s a must read!) And I believe my story gives moms new hope that they can have a better experience the second time around.
But reading back? I had some pretty big bumps in the road after Bean was born. Periods of depression, a severe panic attack, and continued anxiety management. I was actually surprised reading some of the pieces from Bean’s first year. I clearly remember how awful Bug’s first year was. It was hell. But memories of my second daughter’s infancy have an overall joy about them. It’s as if how I feel about my experience didn’t measure up to my actual experience, if you were to judge merely by the blog entries.
I think the difference this time has been that throughout every depressive episode and every panic attack, I never felt hopeless. I never felt crushed by the lies my brain was telling me. I knew better and I had a support network around me mirroring that back to me on the days I couldn’t see it. It’s not that I didn’t suffer from bouts of mental illness with my second baby, but that they were less severe and well-treated. Simply put, I was ready for them. And no matter how bumpy the road, I always felt like I was still traveling forward.
Have hope. Always, hope.