I should have been prepared. I’ve experienced it before, but it caught me off-guard and did a number on my heart.
When Levi was born, it took me six months to admit I needed help. Postpartum depression had a vise grip on me and I couldn’t look up long enough to see the beauty in my baby, my marriage, my friendships, my life. Reeling from the inexperience of being a mother, trying desperately to find new footing with Matt as we navigated through exhaustion and unmet expectations, and feeling like I was coming apart and nothing or no one would be able to put me back together.
It was brutal.
And it took time to heal. Time to wade through what was truth and what was a lie. Time to learn who Levi was and fall in love with him. Time to learn to communicate with Matt all over again as our normal had shifted. But, healing came. Thankfully, blessedly, like taking a deep breath of fresh air, healing.
Three additional children later, and then…
Amelia. Our sweet, beautiful, completely unexpected baby #5. The pregnancy I did not want. The change in our life I was not anticipating.
It took roughly five months for me to begin to feel joy and excitement over her life and what a baby would bring to our family. Five months of crying out and imploring God for help because I simply didn’t think I could handle it.
A birth that didn’t go as I had hoped, and Amelia Eve arrived. The feelings were there. I loved her immediately. I cried tears of relief and joy that she was here. Things were good. We were adjusting. It was okay. I was okay.
Until I wasn’t. Again.
And just like with what I experienced before, the whispered lies kept coming.
“You don’t love her. You didn’t want her. You know you didn’t. What kind of mother are you?”
“You’re failing. You’re being a terrible wife. A terrible mom.”
The worst one?
“You are alone.”
Because we had been down this road before, Matt knew something wasn’t right. That I was not myself.
“You’re checking out on us, Erin. You need to talk to me. Please keep talking to me. I know it’s hard. I can’t help you if I don’t know how you’re feeling.”
Although everything within me did not want to keep talking, I did. I didn’t allow myself an excuse not to.
But there were times when it was obvious to others as well that I was struggling. Shutting down.
And they love me enough to reach out and speak truth to me even when I don’t want to hear it. And they, without knowing it, showed me they were willing to fight for me when I couldn’t fight for myself.
And I think, sometimes, this is what friendship is about. Showing up when it’s hard, when it’s messy, when you don’t want to. Because you love someone. Because they matter.
These beautiful hearts did that. They breathed Jesus into my heart and helped me start the ascent out of the deeps I was in. They showed me I wasn’t, and am not, alone.
I still have moments of dark. Glennon Doyle Melton calls these times in life brutiful. As in we have moments, seasons, times of hard, hard things, but there is beauty in it. Because of God. Because of friends. Because of what the hard things bring. I think this has been one of those times. A brutiful time, indeed. I am thankful for those who have been light and beauty during this time more than I can express. Because of them, the light is shining in the dark brighter than it was before.
By the grace of God and my identity in Him, I am okay. By the love of my husband, I am okay.
And by the love of my cherished friends, I am okay.
**When I experienced my first bout of PPD, I put myself in the care of an amazing counselor. Being aware and catching the signs early this time has helped me and Matt tremendously as we navigated this latest bout with the tips and tools I received from my counselor. I do not take my mental and emotional health lightly, and if you are experiencing feelings of depression, hopelessness, anxiety, etc., please reach out to a professional to help you through it. You don’t have to do it alone.**
Blessings and love,