The Dark Side of Motherhood
Do you remember being a little girl, thinking about your Prince Charming? Dreaming about that white wedding dress? Writing a list of your future children’s names? Picturing the home you would have with the white picket fence and the wonderful life you would live with your Prince Charming and beautiful babies? That is every woman’s dream, right? Because that is what happens when you get married and have kids: everything is wonderful, perfect and beautiful. That is what motherhood and life is supposed to be.
I first met my husband when I was a single mom to a bouncy 3-year-old son. My husband was everything I wasn’t looking for, because honestly, I wasn’t looking. However, he turned out to be everything my son and I needed. When we found out we were expecting a little girl, the first granddaughter for both of our parents, we were over the moon in love with her and she wasn’t even here yet!
When our daughter was born, I was so in love. But the love slowly faded into an unexpected fog of sadness, inadequacy and depression. I hated what my life had become and no amount of therapy sessions, medication or support helped. I was convinced my husband and kids would be better off without me, because I was a horrible mother. The depression turned into suicidal thoughts that consumed me. I found myself admitted to a psychiatric unit because I was on the verge of taking my own life. This is not how motherhood was supposed to be.
Seven months after my hospitalization as I started to see glimmers of hope from postpartum depression, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant. I could not understand why God would allow us to have another baby when I almost lost my life. I fought my husband and I grew to hate him. I hated God. I hated what had become of my life. I was depressed most of my pregnancy but all of that vanished when I laid eyes on my little baby boy. He was perfect and I knew he was meant for me. But my love for him was also filled with extreme anxiety and paranoia. I experienced terrifying intrusive thoughts that led to worsening suicidal thoughts. At 5 weeks postpartum, I took my baby boy with me and admitted myself into an outpatient mother-baby psychiatric program for postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. That program saved my life. It showed me what motherhood could be.
My life since hasn’t been for the faint. Motherhood is made out to be this wonderful, beautiful, magical time, but no one talks about the dark, lonely, isolating times or the feelings you may have of missing your old life or that you may not like being a mom. No one talks about the scary thoughts that invite themselves into your head and make you feel crazy. No one talks about the dark side of motherhood. So, I talk about it. Because I was alone, frightened, depressed and had no one. Or so I thought. But I was never alone.
I have grown to understand that we will not always understand why life happens the way that it does. God doesn’t always allow us to understand the reasons. I have had many talks with God about what has transpired and you know what I have learned? We live in a very dark and broken world and as a child of God, I am not exempt from the pain that this world can cause. What I do know is that sometimes, for reasons I don’t understand, God allows us to go through things not to break us, but to bring us closer to Him. To bring glory to His kingdom. We are called to be the salt and light of the world. Matthew 5:13-16 says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its salty taste, it cannot be made salty again. It is good for nothing. It must be thrown out for people to walk on. You are the light that gives light to the world. A city that is built on a hill cannot be hidden.? And people don’t hide a light under a bowl. They put the light on a lampstand. Then the light shines for all the people in the house. In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do. Live so that they will praise your Father in heaven.”
I don’t wish my experience on my worst enemy. It almost destroyed my marriage, my family, my life. But God never wavered in His love for me. He never left my side, even when I stepped away from His. Now that I am on the other side of postpartum depression and anxiety, I choose to let God use me, and be a light in the darkness of motherhood. I share my experiences so that another mom knows she is not alone and that she is loved and wanted by her babies, her family, her friends and most importantly, her God.
If you are suffering, know you are not alone. There is hope and healing! ** If you have urgent needs, fear that you may harm yourself, your baby or others, you need to?
IMMEDIATELY call your healthcare provider, dial 911, go to the nearest emergency room or contact a qualified crisis line, such as the? 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255**
Chelsea Rumohr is a survivor of antepartum depression, postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety/ocd. Her journey through maternal mental illness left her feeling broken, isolated and hopeless and included two hospitalizations for suicide ideation. In early 2018, Chelsea became certified as a Postpartum Doula through Birth Arts International and started the company Beyond the Baby Bump. In addition, Chelsea is certified in First Aid, CPR and Mental Health First Aid. She is also a member of the Michigan Statewide Perinatal Mood Disorder Coalition. She wants to continue to use her experiences to help other moms and families in the postpartum period. Chelsea is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Counseling where she plans to practice as a therapist specializing in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. She runs the blog mamararae.com, where she blogs about motherhood and her journey through maternal mental illness. She resides in Michigan with her husband and three children.
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