One fine morning I woke up to a crystal blue sky. The grass outside was vibrant green as if someone had waved a magic wand over it. I walked outside to find a jewel colored grasshopper bouncing on top of the grass like it was a trampoline. Buds flowered on the trees adding to the color palette. My yard looked like a painting that had come to life. And I still wanted to cry.
I had awakened moments earlier flooded with emotions that felt overwhelming, like I was a moth trapped in a bottle beating my wings against the glass. I could not understand the deep sadness that I had been feeling since the birth of my son. I loved him. I wanted to laugh but I couldn’t open my mouth. My jaws were clamped shut with wires tied to some emotion I couldn’t identify. I wanted to cry but the tears would not come. For whatever reason, I thought a new outfit to get ready for picture day with my new baby would make me happy. I found myself at my favorite store, Macy’s. As I started going through the rack searching for an outfit, the emotional dam finally broke. Every feeling I had been suppressing for the past month finally caught up with me. I began sobbing. A store attendant came to my rescue.
“What happened?” she asked, placing a kind hand on my quivering shoulder.
I tried to answer only to discover that I was stricken mute. I could not for the life of me put the words together to tell her about the raging war inside of me.
Have you ever cried and had no idea why you were crying? Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed with emotions you couldn’t explain? Being a normally articulate person, this inability to communicate my emotions only added to my frustration.
I had manifested the American dream, the perfect family, a beautiful home with the two-car garage, the whole enchilada. Yet I felt empty and alone. It took a lot of courage for me to walk out of the store leaving the nice salesclerk shaking her head.
When I finally made it back to the car I sat there for what seemed to be a lifetime. All sorts of questions tumbled around in my mind. Is this all that life has for me? When will I stop slaving away at my day job? When will I stop trading time for money? And how the heck am I ever going to achieve my dreams now that I have someone else depending on me?
The more questions I asked myself, the more I cried. Now the dam had broken wide open and I couldn’t stop crying. Even though my life seemed perfect on the outside, I was suffering inside. Guilt plagued me. How could I share with my husband how unhappy I was, with a perfect and beautiful newborn sleeping in the next room? Could he possibly understand. The beginning of a new life seemed to have ended my dreams.
After many sleepless nights and an ocean of tears, my husband knew one thing, it was time for me to see someone. “Naomi,” he said one morning, “This is not like you. You are a strong, positive person. Something’s wrong.”
A trip to the doctor revealed I was suffering from postpartum depression. How could that be? Me, Naomi, the optimistic, happy-go-lucky gal? Besides, I had always thought postpartum depression was a myth. Something women leaned on it like a crutch for sympathy and help with the new baby. Or so I had thought. But it wasn’t like that. I was now facing one of the most challenging moments of my life. The sun never seemed to shine. Have you ever seen the commercial that asks “where does depression hurt?” Depression hurt all over, my mind, body, and spirit. Postpartum depression was a major set back in my plan to walk away from my nursing career and create my dream business. Funny how life hands us these moments to prepare us for the future we do not yet see. At the time, I could not see how this setback would someday become a blessing in my life.
Last month I talked to you about setbacks and what you can do to embrace and move past them. Remember my setback with the delayed release of my book Embrace the Mirror? It was supposed to happen later this month but got pushed back by the publisher. Well, this month a reporter sent me an email asking for expert advice on how finding my life purpose helped me live a healthier life. She specifically wanted me to talk about depression. Can you say “serendipity” along with me? I wrote the article and my story got featured in a health magazine. Can you see how this setback is paving the way for greater success? I sure can! So, what can you do when you are going through a major transition in your life?
- Accept the Emotions. Cry if you must, let the dam break, but don’t deny what you are feeling. Don’t engage in destructive behaviors such as smoking, overeating, or drinking. Doing those behaviors just sets you up for more problems, like lung cancer, diabetes, alcoholism. Know that whatever you are going through is preparing you for the better person you are becoming. Embrace it.
- Embrace the Mirror. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and repeat, “I accept this moment exactly as it is. May I accept myself in this moment exactly as I am. May I give myself the compassion I need to respond to this moment wisely.” Accept whatever is in front of you. You cannot change anything until you accept it.
- Believe in your Ability. You must start believing in your ability to create and live the dream that is inside of you. Believe in yourself, because I believe in you.
How exactly did I get cured from postpartum depression? I had to Embrace the Mirror. Once I was able to embrace what the mirror was showing me, I was able to believe in my ability to create and live the life I desired. So can you.
What would you want if you knew you couldn’t fail?
I would love to hear from you, please leave a comment.