Thursday, October 30, 2014

You'd Be Surprised

- a post by Jeanna Mason Stay
Ladies and gents, it has been a surprising couple months since I wrote about my experience with postpartum depression. I confess I had my qualms about posting it. I wasn’t exactly sure how to say what I wanted and wasn’t exactly sure why I was doing it in the first place. However, I think I have now discovered two unexpected reasons.

First: I received messages, both public and private, from many wonderful women who had similar experiences. Some had done so in the past, and some were still going through it. I was stunned. Among these were women who seemed fantastically happy, whom I had never seen without a smile. I never would have known they had wished, as I did then, for it to all just go away.

It is tragic that there are so many of us who don’t talk about our difficult experiences, especially in such an important phase of life. I’m sure it’s partially the phase itself that makes it so hard to speak up. We’re supposed to be filled with inexpressible joy when we bring babies into the world, right? So we have no right to complain or feel anything painful—especially when there are people in the world who can’t experience this joy, or people who have given birth and lost babies, or people who have . . . fill in the blank. We think we have no right to feel darkness, so we pretend we don’t.

This is not a pain competition, where the person with the most pain is given a gold medal and only she is allowed to talk about it.

Knowing that there were so many women dealing with similar difficulties made me want to be more aware and more loving. It was a visceral, personal reminder that others really are all dealing with more struggles than I can see from the outside, and I hope that to some of those women it was a reminder that they are not alone.

The second thing that post did for me was to pave the way to help me see ways I am personally loved. See, a couple weeks after I wrote that post, my husband was out of town for a week for business.* I had a little emotional breakdown about it—which was too funny and ridiculous not to share, so I did so.**

That week I received dinner and playdate invitations and from multiple friends (though, sadly, none of them involved overwhelming quantities of meat)—more invites than I normally get in a month. They had seen that I needed something and responded. And to top it off, I received an anonymous gift card to the crazy-expensive restaurant I mentioned in my little breakdown! The hubby and I are going to eat snooty churrasco, and we aren’t even going to have to pay for it. I am very, very excited.

The point is that I was surprised and warmed to see how much I was loved—and I don’t think it was a coincidence that the offers came after I had willingly shared that my life wasn’t perfect. Admitting that I had needs opened the way for others to meet them.

Of course it’s not a cure-all, and it won’t always work that the moment you admit to your struggles, someone will be there to give a hug and lend support. But if you just pretend everything’s fine all the time, then you don’t even give people the opportunity. And you might be surprised to find out that people really love you and want to help.

* Here again I find myself feeling like I should just buck up and shut up because in my area lots of women’s husbands are out of town for six months at a time for military deployments. So a measly week is child’s play.
** This is a link to my personal/family blog, so if you’re a crazy weirdo type, feel free not to click the link.


  1. We live in such a competitive society that even our struggles have to be the worst before we’re allowed compassion?? I say that as a question, but it’s really more of a statement, because I know it’s true. I just wish we could all cut each other a little bit of slack and realize that what’s easy peasy for one person might be really tough for another person. Newsflash: we are all DIFFERENT! We all come from different backgrounds, have a different chemical makeup, and we will all react to different situations differently. If someone else flips out over something that you think is no big deal, then rather than sit back and judge, why not HELP them through it?!

    Okay, done with my rant now. Glad you found the support you needed! I’m pullin’ for ya!

  2. I had ppd 30 years ago with my firstborn, and it lasted a year. At the time, I thought, why aren't we talking about this? I'm sad to read that, all these years later, things are not much better. We are ALL broken and struggling with one thing or another, and if we could just live GENUINE lives, we would be so touched by how much we are loved, and how much we can love one another. I'm glad you discovered some wonderful things through your journey.

  3. This is just perfect :This is not a pain competition, where the person with the most pain is given a gold medal and only she is allowed to talk about it.



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