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What I Have Learned: A Mental Health Journey

By Emily Savage

Despite what appears on your Instagram feed, *SHOCKER* not every expecting or new mom journey is an easy one.  When you’re feeling down, or unsure, it’s hard to scroll through social media looking at everyone else’s “perfect lives.”  Michele Lovetri, is a regular mom who continuously shares her truth and hard times online; the good, the bad and the ugly.  She’s honest, which is encouraging to so many other women out there.   Lovetri truly believes we are all connected on this journey of life, parenthood, and that of our mental health. As we obviously believe at BCB, community is so important.  Community can save lives.
By Michele Lovetri
I don’t know if I would have had kids had I known the internal battle I would face after. I love my kids from the depths of my soul, and through it all I would not change a thing, yet if I’m going to be real about how I feel then I have to say it out loud. I am a mom with anxiety that has exacerbated following the birth of my twin boys. Each day I wake up to the unknown. “Will today be a good anxiety day or not?,” “How much will my OCD act up today?,” and the list goes on.
I often wonder how something so beautiful as carrying and birthing human life could be the precursor to a war within that I was not at all prepared to fight. My body changed. It completely changed within minutes. It didn’t take long for these boys to make their way into the world via c-section and little did I know what had begun to unravel inside of me at 9:41am that morning.
The postpartum depression came first and with a vengeance. It hit two days after the boys were born, in the hospital, and with a feeling like I wanted to come out of my skin. It’s almost like anxiety knocked, but depression walked thru the door. I came home and I was drowning, completely drowning in myself and an overwhelming numbness. I cried, hard. All day, every day. I sought help and with therapy and medication depression wore out its welcome after a number of months, but anxiety was lurking, so just as my depression headed out, anxiety decided to take up residence.
That was 2016. Three years later I have been on and off medication and in and out of counseling for my anxiety and OCD which can bring on depression. I have always ebbed and flowed emotionally but becoming a mother set in motion a tsunami inside of me and it has taken much with it resulting in rebuilding from my soul.
So when I say I don’t know if I would have had kids had I known my body would respond the way it did I am speaking my truth. It doesn’t mean I don’t love my kids, it doesn’t mean I’m not immensely grateful for these two precious boys in my life, and it doesn’t mean I’m not a good mother, it just means I am normal and human considering what I have been through and while I have accepted that my mental health will always be something I have to work very hard at, I refuse to let it hold me back from living.

You may be asking why I’m telling you all of this.  Truth be told, some of you may feel that I am selfish for questioning motherhood, may call me ungrateful, and may be horrified by my words but I want you to know that our silence breeds suffering.
Our silence about how we feel about our journey suffocates others. I believe in the truth and I believe in sharing our hard.  There is so much growth to be had in it. The one thing I did from the start that I saved me in so many ways, was talking about it. I did not hold back that I was suffering, or keep quiet about the thoughts that ran through my head. I contemplated for one week which of the boys I was going to put up for adoption because I had convinced myself that having one child would rid me of this postpartum monster and I opened up about it.
I wanted nothing to do with my sons and I talked about it, I said it out loud. It was either that or my life. I was screaming inside and being silent would have taken my life. I sat in isolation thinking I was the only one that felt this way and I must have been born some kind of monster to feel the way I was feeling but I found the complete opposite.
What I found was support. Support from mamas who had gone thru the same thing and survived. Mamas who shared the intrusive thoughts they had and told me I was “normal,” a word I felt anything but. After a while my struggle empowered me and has kept me fighting. I know what it’s like to wake up in hell,  to feel like you’re held hostage by your own body. Or what it’s like to go to sleep afraid of the morning and who you will wake up to be.
I also know what it’s like to keep going and survive it all. I know what it’s like to keep walking the road and with each step the light becoming so much brighter.
Mama you are not broken. You are not your feelings right now, or ever. You are not defined by your hard, nor does it have any bearing on whether you are a good parent. Mama I see you. You are not lost. You are there, all of you. You are still a person, a whole, beautiful person that is loved, seen and understood. You are not your postpartum, you are not weak. You are a symbol of immeasurable strength and courage. You are not your mental health battle and you are not your thoughts or your struggle. You will get thru this. You will survive this, I promise you that you will.  Mama you are strong and you are a fighter. I know this in my heart because I was you, all of you. Believe in yourself and know you are never alone.

Michele Lovetri, is a Mental Health & Postpartum Advocate and twin Mama. She graduated with a BA in Communications and planned on a career in writing, however, like so many mamas, life took her in a different direction and she began a career in healthcare. After the birth of her boys in 2016, everything changed and her love for writing re-surfaced. It took her 5 months to get her blog going out of fear.  Sharing her darkness is not easy and criticism, opinions and comments come with the territory, but nothing fills her heart more than another parent or mental health warrior reaching out because she just made them feel less alone by sharing her truth.  You can read more about her #momlife story in her BCB Mom IRL feature.

 

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