Prior to having my son I saw my therapist regularly, sometimes as often as twice a month depending on what was going on in my life. The first thing that stopped after I became a mom was self-care, including those reoccurring therapy appointments. I had managed to get off of all antidepressants and mood stabilizers during my pregnancy. My skin was radiant, my hair was healthy, and I was on cloud nine! I was happy. I was glowing. So, I was surprised when postpartum depression hit me like a ton of bricks.
I didn’t realize until I stormed out of the room in a crying rage yelling about how horrible a mother I was because I couldn’t breastfeed my son. He’d been given formula in the hospital because my milk wasn’t in yet and once home he’d get frustrated when trying to latch on because my milk wasn’t flowing as easily as that from the bottle. My sister and husband looked absolutely terrified as I handed over my week old son to go cry in the other room. I sat in the shower balling my eyes out. I cursed my breasts for not producing enough milk. I felt like I’d failed as a mom and I was barely a week in.
A few weeks later I sat in my therapists office with my husband and son in tow. “I just feel like a failure because my body won’t produce enough milk. I thought this was natural and I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” I sobbed to my therapist. I felt like less of a woman and mother. ‘Breast is best’ and I couldn’t give my son the best. I’d already failed him. My therapist asked had I done anything for myself since giving birth. I looked at her like she had two heads. I snapped at her, “No, I don’t have time. I have a newborn.” My husband volunteered the fact that I had become a recluse and refused to leave the house with or without my son. He was going back to work soon and had tried to get me to go get a coffee or a pedicure. My anxiety levels were so high I couldn’t even check the mail, yet alone go get a coffee. After hearing this my therapist informed me that she was going to recommend that I get back on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication.
I completely lost it. I yelled at her because getting on medication meant defeat and the end of my breastfeeding journey. Needless to say, after they calmed me down I realized my outburst further proved that something needed to change. After talking to my psychiatrist I agreed to get back on a low dose of Prozac, as she reassured me that any trace amounts in my breastmilk would not negatively impact my son. At that point I wasn’t exclusively breastfeeding so I agreed. Having been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depression prior to giving birth, my psychiatrist and therapist both assured me that I was experiencing postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. In conjunction with the antidepressants I was to resume my regular therapy appointments.
Now, two years later, therapy is the focal point of my self-care regime. The saying ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup’ should be every mom’s mantra when it comes to practicing self-care. Therapy allows me to exhale all of life stresses and share my feelings in a safe place. I’m able to not only unload my insecurities, frustrations, stressors and sources of worry, I am also able to receive sound, research backed advice from a licensed professional. There are so many sources of doubt in motherhood. Being responsible for the well-being of another human is a great and most difficult privilege. It is so easy for moms to neglect themselves, as it is the maternal selfless inclination to do so. However, establishing a solid self-care regimen with mental health as the basis allows you to be your best self. Moms we have a great responsibility to raise our children with love and light. Let’s remember to keep our light aglow by actively taking care of our minds, bodies and souls.
Need help finding a therapist?
Check out the Therapy for Black Girls Therapist Directory listed as a resource on my website.
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This was a guest post written by Fightress Aaron.
Fightress Aaron is the founder of the Beautiful Black & Bipolar blog and brand. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and adhd in the fall of 2013. In 2017 she decided that she would no longer hide her mental illness and suffer in darkness and silence. So, she created the blog as a platform to share her story and journey as a mother, wife, and entrepreneur who lives with mental illnesses. Fightress hopes that through sharing her story, those who are still suffering in silence, will find comfort in her words and the courage to seek the help they need. Fightress lives in the quaint little town of Pike Road, Alabama with her husband Marcus and her two year old son, Kyrie. Fightress graduated from Judson College in Marion, AL (09) with a B.A. in English. She also holds a MBA from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA (13).