I took this photo a couple weeks ago as I was heading out to dinner with friends. After taking a bunch to get that perfect angle where you don’t look so old and tired (let’s be honest!), an acceptable one came about. My thought was that I would put it up on social media after dinner, saying something along the lines of, “See, sometimes I do still get ready, put my make-up on and curl my hair!” But immediately another thought struck me… and it was the word “disingenuous”. Because the reality is that I didn’t just get ready because I felt good and wanted to. The reality is that I had to get ready and the battles that day nearly ran me over.
In the past, I remember seeing pictures of other Mom-friends looking so put-together and happy. And you want to feel joy with them, but inside you are dying. So, you then start comparing yourself and pointing out every negative thing you can possibly find about yourself: disgusting, pathetic, lazy, poor-excuse for a Mom, ungrateful, undeserving, ugly. You get the picture. And maybe that Mom was just having a good day and wanted to share. But for me, in the depths of my PMADs, it became personal.
So I couldn’t just post a picture out of the blue with some “look at me, I look decent tonight” type banter. Because hours earlier, I was drowning.
With Gabe’s new position at a new company came a lot of hectic hours. He was always gone, leaving Olivia and I alone for 14ish hours 6 days a week. Nobody was happy about this, but it was supposed to be super short-term. And then it just continued on, and it started breaking me down. He and I had a system in place prior to that schedule change. When he would get home from work, I would take a “Mommy time-out”. Somedays that was 15 minutes. Other days that was 2 hours. Whatever my mind needed to rest and recover is what we did. Only now, that wasn’t happening at all. And when he did get home, he felt like he had to work on the projects in the house so we could be settled in quickly. So we really didn’t have any time together, nor did he and Olivia. It was a lot. It was overwhelming and exhausting. And on the day that I was scheduled this dinner outing, I had a complete meltdown. Olivia hadn’t been feeling well, and on that particular morning had been crying for over an hour straight. Nothing would soothe her. And I finally joined in and was hysterical with her because I didn’t know what to do. Those old lies of “I can’t do this” kept floating through my mind. Through our tears I had to keep reminding myself that I could do this. I am a different person now. I am capable, and strong, and have the Lord guiding me. But still, I knew I wasn’t going towards a great headspace. I called Gabe and asked him to come home. I haven’t had to do that for quite some time, and it broke my heart to add this additional stress onto him; and it broke me further because I thought it meant I had to be backsliding (which is something that terrifies me to think about).
Gabe came home and I cried some more to him about what my mind was telling me, then went to get ready for dinner. And I want to note something very important here, because these are some red flags that I was choosing to ignore, when I knew what I should have been doing was reaching out. I brushed my matted hair; who knows when I had last done that? I brushed my teeth…. A task that hadn’t been done in a few days, at least. I took a shower for the first time in over a week. I put on clean clothes for the first time in over a week as well. And then, in an effort to hide my shame over my mental health struggles, I went the extra mile and did my hair and make-up. Honestly, I was just ready for a nap after that. I had been considering backing out from this dinner all day. My mind was convinced I couldn’t endure it. But God. He ensured I picked myself up and went to this dinner with these warriors of Christ. And it helped to reset things a bit for me and get me back on track. Amazing how that happens, huh?
So no, I don’t sometimes just get ready. Sometimes I battle through horrible PMAD symptoms, fight with my mind, forget to eat, not care about hygiene, and pray out to God for help in enduring so that I can still get out of the house on those really bad days. This is how I get ready now. This is how I sometimes still put myself together; because that is truly what is happening. Putting together all the pieces of my fractured mind, as well as putting my nutrition and hygiene back in order, just to get out the door. I know it won’t always be this way. As I continue healing, these things will be easier and easier as there are less bad days. But in the meantime, I am really trying to remain honest and transparent on this postpartum journey. So much so that I am attaching a photo below of what I looked like that morning as the enemy tried to gain entry into my mind and break me down.
Keep your heads up, Mamas. This job isn’t an easy one, nor is this world. But our King sits over it all and moves in many beautiful ways in our lives. He has us covered – this, I know.