I recently had the pleasure of being on a podcast with French Mama, Caroline Snow. I got to tell my story in detail and it was the first time I had sat down in years and told my story from start to finish. At the end of the podcast, Caroline asked me what I would have told myself when I was struggling if I could go back in time.
What would the Amber now say to the Amber then?
And this really got me thinking. It sparked me to think about all of the things I tell new moms that call in for support. It got me to think about the tips that I give our Mom Mentors when I’m training them to support new moms. I really started thinking about what I say to a mom who is struggling and how important it is to hear the words of support.
So, just incase you have never talked to me on the phone or don’t have support from someone around you, I’m here to give that support to you. I’m here to tell you the things that every new mom needs to hear when she is struggling.
You are doing the right thing by looking for support.
I know it’s tough to take that step and start looking for support. It’s hard to admit to ourselves that something is off and we need some help. It’s even hard to send an email or make a phone call and open up to someone about what you are going through. But, mama, let me tell you, you are doing the right thing. Reach out earlier rather than later so you can get well sooner. You deserve the support of those around you and here at Postpartum Support Charleston, our number one goal is to help you feel supported.
You are not alone in this struggle.
I know when you are at home with baby, in the middle of the night, it feels so lonely. It feels like you are the only mother who has intrusive thoughts or feels depressed. It feels like all of the other mothers that you see are riding on cloud 9 with their baby, effortlessly. And you are struggling. But, mama, let me tell you, you are not the only one. In fact, 1 in 4 mothers experience a maternal mental health concern (and I even think that number is larger). It’s hard for moms to talk about their struggles, but you are in a safe space here to reach out for support and find a community of mothers that understands what you are going through and won’t judge you for your thoughts.
You will get better.
Having any kind of big emotions, whether it’s depression or anxiety or PTSD, it feels like we are stuck here forever. It feels like “this is what motherhood is going to be like for me.” It’s so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that, one day, we are going to get well. As the saying goes, the only thing that is constant is change. Just like our baby goes through phases that we can’t predict, so do we. We might have some really bad days mixed with good days, but with help and support, you will have more of those good days. You will start to feel better.
This struggle will change your life.
Everyone’s struggle is just a little different, and some moms find it healing to move on from their struggle and try to forget. And some moms take their struggle and make something out of it. But one way or another, you will see the world just a little differently after you experience a mental health struggle. You might be more empathetic to those around you, or you might be more resilient. You might know how to set boundaries better and take care of your own needs first. I know it doesn’t help in the moment to hear this, but know that you will get better and be able to look back at this time with love for yourself.
Take it one moment at a time.
It might feel extremely overwhelming to think about the things that you have to do to get well. It might feel like it’s just impossible, even. But I want you to take things one moment at a time. If it’s a hard moment, acknowledge that and let it come. Rest if you can. Cry if you want to. And when a good moment comes, take a deep breath and know that it’s okay to feel good. It can sometimes be helpful to make a safety plan for when you have tough moments – write down some people to call, make a list of self-care things you can do or coping skills, and put this on your fridge or somewhere you can accesss it quickly. Remember, baby steps. It takes time to get well.
It’s not easy to be a mom who is struggling with her mental health. I know it. But remember, we are here to help support you. We have Mom Mentors waiting to speak one-one-one with you and support groups for you to find community and solace with other mamas. We can help you find therapy or psychiatry if needed. We offer a private Facebook group just for moms in the area where you can find support virtually, as well.
The take away is this. You are going to be okay and this is going to pass. You aren’t alone, you are definitely not the cause of this struggle, and we are here to help support you.