I denied that I was depressed for the next seven years. But late last year, I decided to stop wearing the mask and admitted something to myself that I had never said out loud before: "I'm not OK."
As mothers, there's always so much to do, so many other people to take care of, that there isn't a lot of time for quiet self-reflection. I buried a lot of hurt and anger in an attempt to keep it together for my children. But what I quickly realized was that I was robbing them of a childhood with an emotionally healthy mother. This was one sacrifice I didn't have to make.
I scheduled an appointment with a therapist and fought the urge to call and cancel.
I'm glad I didn't. Within three sessions, I felt the clouds lift. The sun was indeed shining, for the first time in years.
I was gung-ho about this new chapter when my 8-year-old daughter approached me with a question: "Why do you go to the doctor so much?"
I chose to be forthcoming. "I go see a therapist," I told her. "Do you know what a therapist is?"
She shook her head.
"Well, a therapist is like a buddy. You talk to them about things that are going on in your life and they give you advice and help you make better decisions."
She chewed on her lip while she tried to digest what I just said. "Oh, OK." Conversation over.
Here's the thing: therapy doesn't feel like therapy. It feels like meeting with a good friend every couple weeks and I do most of the talking. My therapist asks important questions, and as I mull over my response, I usually come to a new revelation. All the stereotypes I had about therapy — the biggest being that only "crazy" people go — have been shattered.
I'm kicking myself for taking so long to go, and not seeking help when postpartum depression first reared its ugly head. There's something to be said for tackling your problems sooner rather than later.
It is an investment in myself. Even though I have pretty good insurance, there's money coming out of my pockets for every session. It's a sacrifice my family has to make and, luckily, we have the money to afford it. But I will gladly forgo going out to dinner or buying a new pair of shoes to tend to my mental health. There's no question that peace of mind is much more important.
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