Today is world suicide prevention day, and Heidi Oran of The Conscious Perspective is raising awareness about mental illness all week. Today she is hosting a link-up for #worldsuicidepreventionday and I am so glad to be a part of it.
Ending the stigma surrounding mental illness is, of course, an issue that is near and dear to my heart. I had a long and lonely battle with postpartum depression for the first year and a half of my son's life, and I felt very uncomfortable even admitting it had happened for quite a while.
When I finally wrote about how everything wasn't so rosy and lovely, I had many mothers who discreetly reached out to me, not with words of encouragement but with words of thanks. Because they were in that same lonely place. Because they had these feelings that they didn't dare put into words. Because they too, were fighting this awful battle.
I am lucky to not be suffering anymore. But this letter is to all of those still bravely fighting.
I’m so sorry this letter is addressed to you. I’m sorry for this hurt beyond hurt. I’m sorry I can’t make it better. I’m sorry for the darkness that slipped slowly in when you weren’t expecting it. In fact, when you were least expecting it.
I’m sorry you’ve found yourself facing such a monstrous force, when all you ever heard was how happy you would be. How much enamored you would feel in the face of new life. How lovely and fleeting this season of your life would be. If only…
You had this idea of what motherhood was going to be like. You had some inkling of the hardship that comes with sleepless nights and fussy babes and a sudden shift in all the things that you do. Of course it would be difficult, but not like this. Never like this.
I know how hard it is, and I wish I could make it easier for you.
If I could, I’d bring you into my home and into my arms and let you say all the horrible things that run through your mind. I would tell you I’ve been there, I’ve felt that, I’ve thought that too. I would tell you “you’re not alone” because trust me, my dear, you are not.
No matter how lonely and hopeless and outcast you feel, you are never alone.
There are so many who have stood where you now stand. There are so many fighting alongside you. There are so many more who will someday know this pain.
And I know that may not help right now. I know that the people you want to understand won’t. They can’t, even if they want to. I know how lonely it makes your battle. I know how heavy a burden it is.
But you must believe me when I say you will make it through this storm. I know it seems endless, but it isn’t. Yes, it will be long and it will be awful, but you already know that. What I hope you know in some deep corner of your heart is that even when there is no end in sight, an end will someday come.
And all the while, your love for your babe will bloom in spite of the darkness. When you catch glimpses of how deep and wide that love is, you will fight for it nail and tooth. You’ll claw your way out. You’ll get the help you need. You’ll find the strength where you thought there was none left. Then someday, someday, you will find yourself on the other side.
Maybe someday you’ll reach back down the black hole to hold someone’s hand. To let them know they’re not alone. To tell them to keep fighting. To remind them they are fighting, even when it feels like they aren’t.
Someday it will get better.
In the meantime, hold my hand.