I am a postpartum depression survivor

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My middle name is Joy.

I embodied Joy my entire life and everyone knew me as the loud comedian. I loved that about myself, it felt like no one or no thing could ever take away my joy.

Then I had postpartum depression. It was with my second born and it came out of nowhere. I had gotten my birth story I wanted and nothing wrong happened with me or my baby. Since the delivery was my biggest concern, I assumed I was in the clear of “baby blues”. My midwife would check up on me a couple of times and I just told her no, and that I was still in awe of my awesome delivery and my happy, healthy new baby girl… there were no signs of postpartum depression in my mind.

Four months went by and my mom was told she had stage four breast cancer. Our world changed and everything shifted. I knew I was sad, but I always justified my sadness as I was mourning the news of my mom’s cancer. But it was more than mourning or just a sadness. I was lonely. I was trapped.

Sleep deprived, baggy eyes, hurting breasts, crying baby, and jealous toddler adjusting to big sister life… it all came crashing down on me.

Before I knew it, I was hiding away from the girls and going into my closet to self-harm. It felt like the only thing I could do. This was a new feeling for me – I had thought about it before when I went through a hard childhood but this was different. I wasn’t doing it for attention or even an escape. I was doing it because I felt physically trapped inside my skin. It felt like my brain was going 180mph and my body was at a halt. I had to move, I had to run, I had to feel something other than despair. I did this for about a month before I told anyone. My husband had no idea and I worked very hard to keep it that way. I was ashamed, I had major mom guilt, and I was irate with myself for not enjoying my new perfect healthy baby girl. Telling someone meant I was showing them how awful of a mother I was.

Finally, in a moment of weakness that I can’t explain, I described the trapped feeling to my sister, who had yet to be a mother at the time. Of course she was immediately concerned for my well being… and I didn’t even tell her the whole truth. She told me I had postpartum depression and I needed to call my midwife immediately….

Postpartum depression…. me?? No way… I am always the happy one. Could it be depression? What else could it be?

I let that sit for a couple of days before I spoke to my husband or my midwife about it. I didn’t want to alarm anyone (… so irrational and I should have shouted it from the mountaintop). It wasn’t until my first panic attack that I had a glimpse of my reality.

I was trapped. Like I needed to escape my skin again. I couldn’t breath. My heart was beating out of my chest. I was in pain. I thought I was going to die and my biggest fear was that my dying would be an inconvenience to the strangers around me.  Wow… there it is. The moment of clarity. I’m not okay. Something is wrong. This isn’t me.

It would be another six hours before my heart felt normal again. I should have gone to a facility that night but I didn’t want to burden anyone.

The next morning I finally made the phone call, made the appointment, got the meds. I was put on a low dose of Celexa to help with the depression and anxiety… it was a whole new world for me that I had so much to learn about. I did the research, spoke to the midwife and the doctors… it saved my life.

Once I was transparent and told everyone about the anguish I was in, no one was mad at me. Crazy, right? No one was angry that I had to spend the money on the doctor or the medication. No one took my children away from me. My husband didn’t leave me. My family still loved me… I only received amazing support  from every person I told.

I stayed on my medication for two years before I was given the green light to ween myself off of them. It should also be noted that I could not have done this without the help and guidance of my therapist.

I still have anxiety and moments of slight panic… I still have a rare urgency to hide in my closest from time to time… but I am happy to report that I have found natural ways to pull myself out of those high anxiety moments. This is extremely difficult and something that took me years to learn with weekly therapy sessions… and not for everyone! But it worked (and still does) for me if I am consistent with it.

I am telling my story for you, momma. Don’t sit in this. Don’t assume you’re this huge burden on society… the stress of momming is SO REAL and lonely. Get out there and get some help. Talk to someone, anyone. Message me! I’ll understand!

I’m also telling my story for you, friend or family member. You just saw the strongest person you know give birth and own motherhood in a beautiful way… don’t assume she is okay. Check on her! Don’t just show up with a meal and leave. Talk, ask questions, get nosy! You could literally save her life and never know it.

You’re not alone, momma.

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Dear Netflix

First off… on behalf of mothers everywhere – thank you for giving us at least one episode’s worth of extra sleep. We sincerely appreciate your ability to retain the toddler’s attention on our phones while we get just a sweet 21 more minutes before the day really begins.

But… we need to talk.

I think you’ve heard us by now… and you have ignored it for long enough. Stop judging us, Netflix. Stop asking if we’re still watching after 3 episodes automatically play. The kid freaks out when that screen pops up and we have to stop the cleaning/folding/sanity composing/coffee reheating/wine guzzling to push “continue watching”. Also… of course I’m still binge watching my garbage TV show with cuss words after bedtime. I’m only on my third glass of wine. I’m not a quitter!

Besides all of this, Netflix, why on earth do you have random nonkid’s shows on my kid’s profile? Seriously. My daughters share a “kids” profile. At first I selected the option “little kids only” and that caused literal riots in my home as that option does not contain Tinkerbell. Tinkerbell, Netflix… my six year old daughter needs Tinkerbell. Come on. So I upgraded her account to “for older kids and below” and wow, Netflix. Chill. Once Upon a Time is hardly kid appropriate. As is Hater’s Back Off and Star Trek Voyager just to name a few that are way above her level. What gives? I’ve gone to the website and tried to figure out how to change this but to no avail. The only “Parental Controls” you have is for me to add a pin for their profile… my two year old also needs to be able to work Netflix on her own, guys. I mean that’s literally why I own you. For the two-year-old. We all know toddlers run this place, anyway.

With all of these frustrations, it’s important for you to know that no matter what happens, I’ll always have and appreciate you. You could literally jump your prices through the roof and I’ll still be loyal. Like I said, the toddler runs this place and she needs her Netflix… sooooo it looks like we’re in this together. Just hoping you could get more on my mommy level and stop catering to the millennials who really are just using you to Netflix and Chill… I promise you, more moms are using you than you will ever know.

I’ll leave you to fix this. I trust you will. But I mean either way you’re still getting my money so this isn’t a threat or anything… just a tired mom.

Love always,

the world’s okayest mom.

Woman! What are you doing???

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Are you doing anything for yourself? Besides sitting on the couch scrolling thru this with your thumb on your phone while holding coffee in the other hand with the sound of fighting children or a mind numbing kid’s show on the TV in the background….

Are you actively pouring time into your goals and dreams?

Do you know what your goals and dreams are? Or have you not had enough sleep to dream?

Who were you before you had kids? Were you a daughter? A student? A wife? … those things are all given to you by other people. You didn’t chose to be the daughter to your parents, you ended up with them. Sometimes that’s super shitty. And we have to grow up way too early and then we realize when we’re parenting our own little ones that we in fact were never really parented ourselves. That is a hard day. Or a student, a good one or a bad one… but you went to school for something, right? Are you doing what you had in mind while you were this young wide-eyed twenty-something with ambition? Did you marry your dream partner or are you stuck with a complete stranger? Are you taking to time to love your partner and date your partner, not just live with them like the two of you are roommates?

Who are you, really? Was your end all, be all to be a mother? Is being someone’s mother your goal? Girl… that’s a lot of pressure to put on a tiny human. How can they possibly be the entire source of your joy and completion when they don’t even know how to tie their shoes yet? Honestly, I fear that making motherhood your ultimate goal is more dangerous than living without goals. Kids grow up. They get married, they move, they have their own kids… they leave. Then what? Is your entire purpose in life gone? This is why most Empty Nester’s end up divorcing. They spent their entire adult lives focused on this one thing that leaves. When it leaves – they don’t know who they are. They don’t know who they married. It’s lonely, it’s sad… and frankly I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

So where are you, girl? What do you want? When was the last time you sat down and asked yourself what it is that you want out of your life? What are some goals?

Write a book?

Run a marathon?

Get a job outside of the home?

Go back to school?

Whatever it is – it’s going to take work. Work, time, and a commitment to yourself to just do it. It’s going to take daily work – even if it’s just five minutes to set your intentions and break old habits. It’s going to be exhausting. It might be the hardest thing you have ever done… but oh the feeling you will have once it is complete. Girl I promise you. If you take this time for yourself – think of the lessons you will be teaching your children. Do you want you children to grow up knowing their mom never reached her full potential and believe that it’s just not that big of a deal to take care of themselves or have any goals of their own? I have two girls. I want them to be taught how to set intentions, goals, create healthy habits, S O A R … who better to teach them than me? Can I be the one to give my daughters the fuel they need to become whatever it is they want to be? I tell them to chase their dreams constantly. Am I no different? How hypocritical is that?

When was the last time you got a pedicure? One hour. I’m saying one hour a week can you vanish? It can even be during nap time so that whoever is with the kid has it easy. And girl… your husband is NOT their babysitter. He does not babysit his children. You aren’t a babysitter. He isn’t a babysitter. The only thing you have to ask him is if he will be home… you are a grown ass woman. Tell your partner that you are leaving the house for one hour. Remind him where the diapers are and then G.O. Just go. If you are married to a man child who you do not trust to watch your children… then you need a whole different blog post. He is just as much of their parent as  you are and he has his part just as much as you do. He is not your babysitter.

If we are at our lowest of lows, lonely, depressed, missing what we love, lost our identity… how can we be parent our children the way they deserve? When they are old enough, they will thank you for following your dreams.

We are women. Who aren’t we? Who aren’t we to run after our dreams? Who aren’t we to have opinions that matter? It’s 2018… what do you want?? Tell us! Tell us what you want. Write it down! Put a timeline on it! GET IT. Get what you want and what you deserve, my love. You are a fierce woman who brought precious life into this world …. what can you not do?? Nothing! There is nothing you can’t do. Stop limiting yourself. Tell your family! Tell them what your plan is. Don’t ask. Tell them. This is not up for discussion. You have given up so much for the other people in your life to follow their dreams… they can do the same for you.

Get out there, girl. What are waiting for? It‘s never going to get easier. Now is the easiest moment. Now is the time to make the decision and LEAP.

Now.

Today.

Get it, girl.

“Don’t You Regret It?”

This one here needs a little introduction. My good friend from high school wrote the following words. I have known her for well over a decade and remember watching her have her baby girl, marry her high school sweetheart, and have a few of her ups and downs – y’all… Liz is one of the strongest people I know. If you ever get the chance, have a conversation with this woman. I have always valued my time with her. That being said:: I think this is such an important post right here. There are so many expectations society puts on a woman, and we can use all the encouragement we can take. Get some encouragement from my dear friend, here. There is so much value in these words.

“Are you having any more kids?”
“No, my husband got a vasectomy.”
“Oh my gosh y’all are so young aren’t you afraid you will regret it?”
“Im good either way, he really didn’t want kids so I respected his wishes.”
“But what about you? Didn’t you want more kids?”
“I’m okay either way.”
“I think you will regret it when you’re older, maybe you can talk him into reversing it.”

Fast forward 7 years later….
Do we regret it?
No. We. Do. Not.
Do I regret it?
NO!

Having a kid is hard but I am constantly pressured about having another one. How could I not want another one, they say. Aside from the whole other issue I would have to write about on respecting my husband’s wishes, this one is for mom’s who only have one kid and are okay with it. Even when we are constantly made to feel guilty about it, even if it’s unintentional. You are not weird for only wanting one. When people asked me in the beginning if I was upset he got a vasectomy the only reason I ever said yes was because that is what I felt I had to say. From the way I was asked, I felt like if I said no I would be a bad person or judged. Internally I was okay with not having another baby, and now that my daughter is older and I have had motherhood experience, I am so happy I don’t
have another kiddo. I am not a kid person. I have never really been a kid person.

I am constantly fighting an internal battle about how I am not a good mom because I don’t like to play with my kid, or how I don’t do enough stuff with her, or how she is late to bed again because I am just not paying attention.

We recently found out that she has ADD and to be honest I was so relieved I wasn’t crazy! I thought I was doing something wrong because she couldn’t focus, she couldn’t sit still, and she could never finish anything. She literally has 6 alarms in the morning to keep her on task and 4 in the evening. Not being a kid person, this is very hard on me. I lose patience fast, I get annoyed fast, I can’t understand why she can’t just put her dang shoes on the first time I ask, or brush her teeth the fifth time I ask.

I am an okay mom.

The question is, am I okay with this? Yes and no. Do I want to just be an okay mom? Actually, no. I want to be an amazing mom. I want to constantly work on the habits I have towards my kid, such as not snapping at her and having more patience. But in the mean time I am an okay mom. The fact that I WANT to improve myself for her is great, and I give myself credit for that. I want to raise an amazing human being.

The deal is, my mom feels like she was an okay mom. She was overworked and stressed.
Constantly under financial pressure as a single parent. She had two kids, my brother and me, and yet I feel like she was amazing. I could not have a more amazing mom in my opinion. I feel like she did a great job. I am a good and kind person. I have a career, dreams, goals, and an amazing kid. I have to remember that as long as I’m present and doing the best I can, my kid will feel the same way about me.

With all that said, did you just read what I wrote?

OMG I could not imagine all these thoughts, insecurities, and pep talks with more than one child! It’s hard enough going through all of this with one kid. I applaud all moms who have more than one. You are freaking amazing and I honestly don’t know how you do it. Just thinking about raising two decent human beings stresses me out. I only have one kid and I am at peace with that. No regrets here. I love being able to give all of my focus to my daughter and honestly she needs it.

Never let anyones opinion affect your peace.

Written by our fellow Okay Mom – Liz Edmond

Life Lessons in Social Etiquette (…for boys)

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(All antics have been honey badger tested)

Life Lessons in Social Etiquette 1-10

1. Laying across the entrance to the school will not stop school.
2. Biting your classmates’ hand when they try to help you at the computer because your hands are busy “typing” is wrong on all fronts.
3. Leaving your superhero underpants on the floor of the little boys’ room is not sharing.
4. Believing your classmates are “Stormtroopers” and you’re the only “good guy” is not fair.
5. “Pew-pewing” the “Stormtroopers” won’t make you any friends.
6. Throwing chairs when asked to do your writing work is not a bargaining tactic.
7. Stuffing your cheeks with wadded up balls of pink construction paper does not make you “Murl the Squirrel.”
8. Your game “Dangerous Windmill” which entails spinning in circles with your arms wide out and hitting classmates is not a team sport.
9. Your mouth is not a rock tumbler.
10. “Saving the World” by moving all the earthworms onto the grass is a pretty cool thing.

Stay tuned for lessons 11-20 next month!

 

This month’s life lessons are brought to you by our fellow Okay mom Jennifer Holston

When You Finally Grow the F Up

Another post written for you by one of our Okay Moms ::

KT Kinsey

I have never been the socially acceptable “normal” person I was intended to be by the people in charge of my education and upbringing. I’ve always taken the road less traveled, and that was usually the more difficult path. Baby was never meant to be put in a corner and was never meant to be told what to do! Painfully awkward, filled with incredible amounts of pent up rage from tragic events of my childhood, and lost in a big world with no real role model, I spent the first almost 30 years of my existence, well, lost.

My life never had a clear path. I didn’t have much in the way of future goals, I couldn’t see past the end of my nose and the borders of my small hometown. You know the type of place, small town, booming in population growth, where everyone either works for a plant or teaches school and everyone knows everyone else’s business.  I knew I wasn’t meant to be there, but I had no clue how to get out unless prison was involved, and I’m too in to my self-preservation for that shit. The opportunities for me weren’t plentiful and I had no idea how to get out there and make things happen myself. I was usually shut down before I could even try.

I was forced to attend college even though deep down I knew I wasn’t ready. I was too naive of the real world and had absolutely no clue what college involved or what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Seven years, three majors, three minors, and three institutions of higher learning later and I finally trucked out a half decent degree with a $40,000 price tag in student loans. I was finally done with the monotony of “formal education”, married and on my way to the state of New York for my husband’s first duty station with the Army.

The first tastes of real freedom, and what did I do with it? Immediately had a baby. Don’t get me wrong, I was so ready to have a child and I love my little boy more than anything else in the world, but I never gave myself time to consider options for just what exactly I would want out of life. By the time my husbands first contract with the Army was complete we had spent three years in the frozen tundra of upstate New York, racking up credit card debt, and doing nothing but hiding at home with my baby and eating. I was “that” military spouse. I made a couple of friends and tried a few new activities but my only true solace was junk food and fighting with imaginary people on the Internet. I was just a miserable person living a closeted miserable life.

All of the education and training and experience I had built up in the first 25 years of my life were going to absolute waste. This impasse basically slapped me in the face in 2013 when I decided to compete for the last time in an International pageant system I had been involved in for almost 10 years. I was aging out and decided to give the International competition one more go of it. I prepared my vocal selection for talent, shopped for the clothes, got in shape, had professional headshots made. I was ready! Or so I thought. I was 27 and aging out of the system and the part of the process that I hadn’t given much thought to was also the part that always came so easy to me, the Interview competition. About a month before the pageant I started thinking about things I could potentially be asked in Interview. It didn’t take me long to realize I had messed up. Questions that came to mind were things like “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” “What is your greatest accomplishment” or “How do you plan to make an impact on the world”.

That’s it, time to call the whole thing off, I’m doomed. I can belt out a song and glide across the stage in a gown all day but I had absolutely no real substance to back it up. I am not a person who cries easily. I am also that solid rock in a rocky storm type of gal. I went into sheer panic mode. I ended up in tears during a conversation with my mother, whom I was living with at the time while my husband was deployed. I realized that while I had gone through the “expected” steps of graduating high school, graduating college, marrying a respectable man, and having a beautiful child, I had absolutely nothing to really show for myself that was any indication of who I was as a person and absolutely no future path in sight other than to raise my child.

Now, before anyone wants to rake me over the coals for my last statement, I’m not saying raising my child isn’t respectable. I consider it the hardest and most rewarding job I have ever had and will ever have. This is merely my way of saying that I had never given any thought to being capable of anything other than being a wife and mom. I love those parts of my life, but in this epiphany mess of tears I realized that I was a capable human being who really did want more than what I had settled myself to.

My mom talked me off the ledge, we managed to collaborate on some believable bullshit to put on my introduction card for the pageant, and off we went to spend a week in Vegas full of hairspray, rhinestones, and memories. I ended up pulling off my second trip to the Top 10 for my age group, and while I didn’t return home with a crown I did come home with a new found thought: I am not done living my life yet.

Fast forward four years and we now live in Tennessee where we own a home, send our son to a nice private school, I have an incredible job, and now know what I want to be when I grow up. In those four years I took a long look at where I came from and decided to embrace what I was capable of rather than wallowing in my pathetic past. I cut myself off from a lot of Internet connection, a lot of toxic “friendships”, even more toxic family relations, and decided to be who I really am.

I now rock purple hair, I got my first tattoo recently, I embrace my full on love of Harry Potter and all things nerdy, and decided to stop letting everyone else tell me who I am supposed to be. I saw a picture on Instagram recently with a quote on it that I have really fallen in love with. It said, “Teach your daughters to worry less about fitting into glass slippers and more about shattering glass ceilings.” I’m done trying to fit myself into the molds I was never meant to fit into. I may not cure cancer, save Social Security, or win Miss America but for my child I’m going to be the best example of living my one and only life exactly the way I want to with absolutely no shame or doubt involved. If I can encourage one other person to be who they are without apology, then my work here is done.

We all kinda suck

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My bad.

I am totally the worst.

 

A hypocrite to the MAX.

I spend my entire time worrying about how moms are being judged or shamed – trying to give okay moms a voice. Trying my hardest to tell moms from every walk of life that it’s okay to be okay – to ignore the perfect instagram mommies because there’s a lot we don’t see behind their perfectly filtered pictures.

 

But at the end of the day – I took that voice away from the okay moms and used it for harm.

I digress.

My eyes were opened to my hypocrisy because of a peanut butter sandwich.

Not just any peanut butter sandwich… but a peanut butter sandwich made from a professional. It was for a peanut butter ad and it was targeting moms who pack their kid’s school lunches. The ad showed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with perfect tiny star shapes cut out of the top of the bread so you can see the perfectly smeared thin layer of (I’m sure) organic jelly and the thick layer of the protein packed peanut butter. No mess. Crust not even cut off – because of course this kid eats crusts. Perfect little lunch packed for a perfect little kid by a perfect mom. Every time this ad popped up on my Facebook feed, I wanted to throw my middle finger up. OVER IT. STAHP. No one is that perfect. No one takes the time to do this. And if they do take the time to do this – it is for a filtered instagram pic and not for their kid. Right??

 

Well I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

 

For nearly a year I have ran a mommy support group on Facebook called the World’s Okayest Moms and it’s pretty freakin perfect. We’re coming up on almost 2,000 members and it is a well oiled machine – so far there has been very little drama (WHICH IS IMPOSSIBLE HELLO) and a huge support from all over the world… literally the world. It’s amazing and encouraging and I couldn’t be more proud of it.

A few weeks back, one of the world’s okayest moms took a screenshot of said peanut butter ad and posted it in the group with a caption along the lines of – who actually does this. The comments were hilarious. A bunch of woman, including myself, got on the thread and bashed the ad for being so fucking perfect and not messy. It was exactly what I thought would happen. Until a mom commented something I hadn’t thought of :

 

I won’t quote her directly but basically she was hurt. She said that her child had the hardest time eating and would go through bouts of refusing food for days on end (who doesn’t have that every once in a while). So in a desperate attempt to get her child to eat some protein, she made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Perfectly, no mess, cute shaped cut out of the center of the bread, and it was beautiful. The kid ate the sandwich and she finally found something that worked. It became a ritual for her to make these special sandwiches for her kid who she was worried wasn’t getting enough nutrients. She said that the comments on the post hurt her directly and she was debating leaving the group over it – she thought this group was a place without judgement and here she was, feeling completely judged. She was hurt. We hurt her. Suddenly a memory hit me that four years ago I had an extremely stubborn two year old refuse to eat for days on end with the exception of cheerios. So I did this! I used cookie cutters and cut her sandwiches into shapes for months. It was the only thing she ate and I was relived she was getting some protein so it didn’t matter to me that I had to go the extra mile for my typical two-year-old.

 

I wrote her back an apology and validated her hurt. I thanked her for not leaving the group but I think my apology was too late. I never got a reply back.

I felt terrible.

I had set out to create this environment for mommies who felt like they didn’t belong and here I am shaming mommies.

Is it possible that we are so worried about not judging and shaming okay moms that we end up shaming and judging the instagram moms?

We hate their perfect yoga pants and their skinny bodies and their avocado toast. But aren’t they doing what they need? They need the marathons, they need the cookie cutter sandwiches, they need their protein shakes in the morning. Some of them even need the likes. They need to post their filtered devotional and coffee pic in the morning so that they feel validated and noticed. It’s their way to feel creative and appreciated. Who doesn’t want that?

 

I am a creative but not with my instagram pics… I am not a photographer and I don’t spend 15 minutes working on the perfect placement of my latte on the cafe table for the perfect picture. But these women who do are only expressing their creativity in a different way than I would.

Point is – we don’t know. There is no way we could ever possibly know their life. We don’t know why they feel the need to post Breast is Best or Fed is Best posts. We don’t know why their house is pristine and their coffee always hot. We don’t know why their kids wear name brands and eat their perfect organic sandwiches every day. Just like they don’t know us.

Isn’t it time we push through that divide? Can’t a mom just be a mom? At the end of the day – we all have the same end goal…

 

don’t raise an asshole.

Right??

Let’s chill out, mommas. It’s okay to be okay and it’s also okay to be sub par and it’s also okay to be spectacular. You do you. That’s the best we can do, right? We all kinda suck – there’s some common ground!