This is a guest post by Mama’s Comfort Camp Den Mother Aryeal Jackson. She is sharing her story with us in support of her event Climb out of Darkness 2014. A fundraiser to benefit Postpartum Progress and raise awareness for maternal mental illness. Details can be found at http://postpartumprogress.org/climb-out-of-the-darkness/.
Aryeal blogs athttp://wavesofsynchronicity.weebly.com
“The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude.”
― Kate Chopin, The Awakening
My biggest mistake was thinking that I was alone. An “island universe”. I am not. I’m human and I needed the help of others. Not to do the physical things. Not to “fix” me. But to hear me. To see me. To acknowledge my journey. There are varying degrees of PPD. Some need meds. Some need therapy. Some need both. And some just need the right support structure.
It is brave to stop the whirling choas and reach out of your comfort zone. To try things, test new waters. For me It was Mama’s Comfort Camp. An old friend I reunited with suffered from PPD/A. She had stumbled upon this amazing group of strong women, and she introduced me. Resources from that led me to Postpartum Progress. Turns out some of the strongest and bravest examples of motherhood run in the same circles. Then it cascaded from there. It turns out I’m really not all alone. There are millions of women in my shoes.
You see survival is pretty much what I was focused on. I was still trying to pretend I was fine. That I hadn’t been medically raped by my “emergency” C-section. That I was happy to be pregnant again. When my second son was conceived, my first was only 9 months. Not planned. Panicked, that’s what I was. And desperately trying to hide it. It was a process to even approach a “group”. My first MCC meeting I was a mess. It took all of my will power to walk down the street and up the stairs. And after, I didn’t feel any different. The next day I didn’t either. But then, slowly I started to see some of the benefits to talking about where I was at. The beauty was in the showing up. Being present. Being seen, where I was. Cause where I was, was in a hole. And it was safe there and cozy, and familiar. What comes of this beautiful vulnerability is a perspective shift. If you stop the wild whirlwind of “I’m fine, I have to be the perfect mom, I have to have a great career” things look and sound different.
So it turns out that no matter how “bad” you have PPD/A, It changes you. Like motherhood itself, PPD/A changes your perspective on the world. Identifying “triggers” becomes a full time job. Full time being 24/7 because you are up All. The. Time. I learned that it wasn’t just a character flaw, yes I had always had a depressive and melancholy streak, but this wasn’t simply that manifestation following me into motherhood. It was different. More serious. Because my husband and my boys, don’t deserve a melancholy and moody mama. And I, yes even I don’t deserve to be unhappy and melancholy. So I chose to put one foot in front of the other until things started making sense. Walking away from my hole in the ground, choosing to say I’m done hiding, to ask for help. That’s when I began to realize that it was through intentional acts of self care, eating, sleeping, loving myself, and sharing truth that I was healing. One timid unsure step at a time. I spoke, I was heard. someone understood. I wasn’t alone. One timid step lead to another, and another. And in truth we may never reach the summit completely . because PPD/A never quite leaves you, but the climb will change you forever. Because we are climbing out of the darkness. Not just for our children, but for ourselves. Because motherhood and martyrdom are not synonymous. Because the most beautiful thing we can teach our children is to preserve their sense of self, establish their own sovereignty and always keep climbing.
“I would give up the unessential; I would give up my money, I would give up my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.”
― Kate Chopin, The Awakening
Mama’s Comfort Camp
The beauty of this group is not just its structure, which by the way is truly remarkable, but its founder and its geographic home. Both work to allow a certain concoction of both support on-line, in person and passively. I began attending classes. Most taught by MCC founder and keeper Yael Saar, an amazing and intense woman who I was drawn to. Here was a strong A type, much like myself. Competent, caring, and painfully and exquisitely real. Yet she had a story, she was a defiant survivor. And out of her struggles emerged a remarkable thing. She teaches self care, “self-kindness”. She teaches it to all moms. But to those with any level of PPD/A they are especially poignant.
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