This is going to be personal af and I get nervous just thinking about writing this, but I will, because the few people that I’ve talked to about this always said the same “I had no idea you had gone through that” and then they share their experiences with me, and we start a conversation on the subject and that’s exactly how we remove the stigma around mental health, and other issues.
I never thought I would be a statistic, never thought I would be another number in the charts, that just wasn’t me. Things could happen to everyone, people I knew, friends of friends, just not to ME.
Yet now I can say I was a 1 in this statistics
1 in 15 suffers from an eating disorder
1in 13 suffers from anxiety
1 in 10 will deliver a baby prematurely
1 in 7 suffers from postpartum depression
1 in 5 suffers post-traumatic stress disorder
1 in 5 suffers a miscarriage
When I delivered my daughter at just 27 weeks, alone, in a foreign country with no family or friends to turn to for support, I had no idea it was going to be the beginning of a very long, painful road to recovery.
When Mila was born prematurely, she was in the NICU, where I would visit her every day, I sat next to her for 9 hours straight every single day, with the exception of a 30 min lunch break which was basically mandatory and I can now thank the nurses for making me go.
After the hardest 6 weeks of my life I got to take my baby home, but instead of joy I felt fear. I was terrified, how the hell was I supposed to do it? How was I going to keep her alive when my body had just failed her and caused her early arrival? I was sure this was some sick joke, and I shouldn’t be a mom, in my head she would be better off without me. That’s how my road through postpartum depression started. I felt like the worlds worst mother. I couldn’t really bond with her, sure, I loved her, but I still didn’t feel like she was MY daughter, after all, she had been cut out of me while I was unconscious.
Few months down the road, and I was at my lowest, I couldn’t sleep, and I would cry my eyes out every night to the point I felt like I couldn’t even breath.
The pictures you’ll see at the end of this post are tricky, you think you know the feelings behind, but you actually can’t tell. You see, the pictures of Mila and I in the hospital, were actually at a time where I was happy, I had my baby, she was although small, quite healthy and thriving. As to where the pictures after the hospital, although you see me smiling, I was at a point in my life where I asked myself why was I even alive.
I battled postpartum depression for a very long time, sadly, when I opened myself to someone and expressed how I was feeling and told that person I thought I should talk to a professional I was met with words like “only crazy people go to therapy” or “that’s so stupid, just go out with friends” my favorite “just get over it”.
So I didn’t go, and it was a huge mistake I deeply regret, because depression stole my time, time I could’ve spent with my kid having fun, I spent crying while I let her watch a show, it stole time away from me talking to my family because I didn’t wanted them to see my puffy eyes and realize there was something wrong.
It took a very long time, tons of work, self love and therapy to eventually leave PPD behind and start enjoying my life instead of just going through life like a zombie.
But post traumatic stress disorder didn’t leave me alone for a very long while, I couldn’t listen to ambulance sirens without breaking into a nervous breakdown because something as little as a sound took me back to the day I rode in the back of an ambulance trying to feel my baby move just to know if she was still alive. I couldn’t smell hand sanitizer because it took me back to the days, we spent in the NICU where hand sanitizer basically became my perfume.
Few years later and when I thought I had left my mental issues behind I had another experience I would’ve never thought would happen to me, and that’s the thing about this subjects, were always sure they can happen to anyone, just not us.
I was the happiest I had been in my life, I was healthy physically and mentally, and I was in love. My life was great, and we decided we wanted another baby. Little did I know I was about to join another statistic, the 1 in 5 women will experience a miscarriage.
It was heartbreaking, the first, the second the third, the fourth time.
I felt ashamed, I felt lonely, and I felt helpless, it didn’t matter that I had an amazing partner who was absolutely supportive and loving, anxiety and depression still creeped back into my life.
I felt anxious about going to the toilet, because I was terrified of putting down my pants to see my underwear full of blood, that feeling followed me all the way through my pregnancy with Alex, my miracle baby and didn’t leave until I had him in my arms.
That’s the thing about mental illnesses, it can happen to everyone, no matter your background, no matter how strong your support system is, it can happen to you, and its ok to talk about it. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, I know I’m not anymore, all of my struggles have brought me where I am, and even those horrible experiences gave me something good…perspective. I now even believe I’m a better person and mom because of everything I’ve gone through. Most importantly I now know that if I ever find myself in any of those situations again, I have people to talk to, that taking care of my mental health is important, and an actual life saver.