When I think of the meaning of burden, I find it to be a very heavy and powerful word. According to the dictionary, its definition is “load, usually a heavy one.” It’s also described as a problem or trouble. I’ve of course heard the word burden used in a context where it refers to a person. For example, the longer someone stays in an unhealthy relationship, they become a burden. Having to care for someone who is addicted to a substance can be a burden. However, I hadn’t heard it used in first person much until it was one of the superior thoughts lingering in my mind… I don’t want to be a burden.
I started this blog when I was two months postpartum after giving birth to Jayla. I remember one of my first posts being Postpartum Depression or Bad Week? and I was fresh off of a hard week of emotions and motherhood. I was so confused with what I had experienced and what I was feeling. I didn’t understand how everything was getting on top of me as a mother when it wasn’t my first time being a mother. Postpartum depression crossed my mind, but I erased it as an option because I believed I was only having a rough week and suffering from sleep deprivation.
Time went on and then again, I began to feel like an emotional wreck. I felt like I was getting a good beating from life. My life was getting the best of me. I ended up writing Emotional Trip when I finally began to approach the end of that emotional wave. I was constantly worrying if my daughter was growing properly, and I spent a week continuously crying and not able to speak. I didn’t want to be alone. I tried to see if there was a way my baby and I could ride in my husband’s truck with him while he worked. When he reminded me how that wouldn’t work, I would go to my daughter’s school early and wait until it was time to pick her up. Every time I tried to utter a word to express what I was feeling, my eyes would fill with tears and my throat would seize. I couldn’t get the words out. I ended up saying something minor to my family and friends to reassure them I was ok and to move past it all. It was at that point where I knew things weren’t right, but I felt like things would eventually be ok. It was just hormones… Nothing more, nothing less. I believed there was no room to focus on how I was really feeling at that time. I foolishly told myself I needed to focus on my husband and children’s well-being instead of mine.
For months I would blame my irritability, feelings of anxiety, feelings of loneliness, feelings of just wanting to run away from life on lack of sleep, lack of time to myself, and hormones. I believed it to be true because I didn’t feel sad every day, all day. It would come in waves. I remember several times my mother would be over to relieve me of my girls. I would get a rush of emotions and feel extremely lonely, sad and uneasy. I would immediately tell my mother because I would be on the verge of crying and didn’t understand why since nothing happened to trigger those feelings. As a mother, she could always sense when something was wrong, and still does. However, I figured since my daughter had finally turned one, I was in the safe zone and clear of postpartum depression. My baby was now a toddler and I was free of infancy emotions… Boy was I wrong.
Right after her birthday, I began packing up my entire household to prepare for our move to South Carolina. It was in the mist of me homeschooling my high-energy, attention seeking 7-year-old, and caring for a new mobile toddler who still heavily breastfed. I was busy all day, and hardly slept at night. As you can see, I’m not one who does well with asking for help. I was able to coast through the days. In my mind, I was being dramatic. There were people out there who was experiencing real trauma. After the move, there was the adjustment phase. Trying to figure out my next steps. I knew things were getting bad when my hair began to thin… Then of course, the thinning turned into hair loss. Unfortunately, I’m very skilled with covering things up. I can quickly turn the attention off of me and put it onto someone else. I’m excellent with smiling while I’m losing it inside. I was a pro at focusing on helping others while throwing my problems to the back of my mind so that I wouldn’t have to deal with them. Even if I slipped a little, my clean up game was top-notch. I would reassure those close to me that it was just a weak moment.
January hit… That month hit me hard. And now February… I’m truly struggling. Struggling to write, struggling to be excited about things I normally would be jumping for joy about. I’ll get a few good laughs in here and there. Holding back tears often, crying to myself and hiding the tears from my daughters. I have some good days, but as usual it’s all in waves. I finally told my family and close friends that I wasn’t okay. I didn’t feel okay and I needed help. My thoughts weren’t okay and the feelings I felt on a regular were not me. Not Tiana at all. I was so embarrassed. The embarrassment made me cry more. I didn’t want people to question my ability to be a good mother to my children. I wanted someone to come and get them all while still wanting them close to me. Sleep became even harder to acquire. My insomnia peaked. When I finally fell asleep, I would jump reaching for my daughter believing she was hurt or had fallen out of bed. I feared that if my children hurt themselves, would I be questioned because I finally came clean about what I was experiencing. I just didn’t feel good. I’m holding back tears while writing this.
I know this isn’t the most exciting or incredible blog post to read, but I needed to write this. It’s been a month since I last blogged, and it’s because I couldn’t write about anything else. While I’m working daily to get to back to my normal self, it definitely feels better going through these emotions with my loved ones being aware. Before I didn’t want to be a burden to people, but I realized that I am not one. I’m not a burden, and I’ve never been one. I’ll eventually seek professional help, but that’s costly at this time. For now, I have daily check-ins with friends, and my mother calls me on FaceTime me every single day to actually see my face (to see if I’m lying to her or not). I’m trying to be more intentional about expressing how I’m feeling instead of holding it all in. I’ve connected more with the new moms I’ve met here in South Carolina as well. They have been amazing and supportive. Sometimes all of the support is a little difficult to receive when I just want to be to myself and not speak to anyone at all. There are moments where I want people to be around but no conversation. Just their presence.
Honestly, I wrote all of this to simply get it off my chest. In the mist of my struggle, I hope it encourages another mom to seek help if she has an inkling that she may have postpartum depression. I also hope it helps someone who is close to a new mom who may be showing signs of it. Every time I say it… that I have postpartum depression… I’m still very embarrassed. Not because I think it makes women weak or incapable of surviving motherhood. But because it forces me to talk about things I would normally keep to myself.
If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know that I post my honest thoughts each time. I’m pretty sure I over-share, but oh well! This post is a reminder that motherhood is one of the most beautiful things in this world, but it is not for the weak.