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Oh my sweet and sleepless friend,

Yes, that 1st year is very hard. As you know, I haven’t experienced it myself. I can only know stories. And I know plenty of stories. Not just about hormones, sleeplessness and birth. I am older so know about peri-menopause and menopause and kids leaving. And personally, I k ow about losing choices to illness.

Losing who we are is no small thing. The reason matters little, if at all, when the result is losing us.

I mother everyone, if you haven’t noticed. I just want my friend to feel happy. Guilt about a messy house and dirty dishes isn’t depression, although it can be a symptom. I suspect you wouldn’t judge anyone harshly who had a new baby and a messy home or stayed in bed all day. Don’t do it to yourself.

What I just read concerns me because of the length of time this has gone and because you have written before of feeling “off”. Over here, clinical depression is concerning if symptoms last for more than 2 weeks.

Be sure not to fall into the “this is normal" trap. Maybe it is normal. Does it feel normal to you? If not, please go to your OB. Just tell her or him everything. Be honest and real. I promise because I know it from experience, the only person who judges you harshly is you.

After I was raped everyone and everything I read said it was normal to suffer from depression. Well, duh. Then I didn’t sleep for 2 years. I began having constant migraines and got down to 88 pounds. And still, I told myself that was normal. It was a different time, depression wasn’t talked about. But not so different, really. We still want to believe that it will pass, that it isn’t us. Especially if one is an independent, over achiever who loves life and thinks everything comes easily, as I was and am, again. It always had before.

Having suffered from depression amidst PTSD with no sleep, self-esteem or hope that I’d ever climb out of the ever deepening, darkening hole of what became my life, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I almost didn’t survive. I didn’t know what was going on but my pride and shame stopped me, too. I was just reacting in a “normal" way so I believed that I would snap out if it any minute.

Then I just snapped. And it still took me a other year to hit bottom.

The longer we are depressed the harder it is to become happy again because of our hormones and the chemicals triggered inside our brains. They flush more and more bad stuff into us. I am no scientist. Just one who suffered. Sleep is the hardest thing to get back and the most important to maintain.

After finally getting help, talking and taking meds for a year, I found joy again and, because I was so young when this happened to me, I got more: me. I got to know what I wanted from life.

Please, whatever this is, might it not be best to talk this out with someone who can help you know if this is truly “normal” for you or not? I thought it was normal to feel depressed after being beaten and raped and surely, it is and was. But it wasn’t normal to feel anything that stopped my life. Oh, I got up and went to school and did the things I was supposed to do but I wasn’t there.

Your body has been through so much this past year with the section and the baby. The physical stress alone from surgery that cuts abdominal muscles takes 6 to 8 weeks of rest. Rest. Not feeding and diapering a newborn on a schedule from hell. And from there you fell head long into that very hard 1st year.

I believe you are very independent, creative and bright, accustomed to having things came fairly easily, to meeting high standards you enjoy placing on yourself. Then pregnancy, a tough delivery and it is downhill from there. And that is something no one can control. It is the gift of age and daily meditation to give up control but you ain’t anywhere nearly that old! You are accustomed to being in control as it should be!

None of us are happy until we balance nature’s hormones and learn to manage a new life that involves someone else who literally cannot get along without us. We have to set our own standards and pace and judge ourselves by our own new standards. And there is nothing wrong with that, at all. But it is tough.

Don’t let anything stop you from getting help to feel great again because the way clinical depression works, when your baby is in school, sleeping the night and potty trained, your chemicals will still be screwed and and you won’t just pop back.

The worst that can happen by talking to your OB is that you will judge yourself harshly and learn you need a little help to get sleep or maybe you will give yourself permission to put him in Mom’s Day Out twice a week. Or you may find out you are chemically and hormonally clinically depressed and get help. Then on his second birthday, you will write a story of joy and triumph.

That’s my wish. Whatever it takes.

You are too special not to treat yourself to be all you can be: who you are.

Venture forth, brave one! My heart is with you!

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