Most women are taught to be strong, particularly black women. For centuries, we've tended to the slavemaster's children while trying to raise our own. We've endured unequal pay for equal work. We've endured senseless murders by those who were supposed to protect us. Recently, I saw a post on Instagram about black women being called strong, it read:
"Please stop calling black women strong as a compliment. 'Strong' is why our mortality rate in medicine is high. Strong is why our pain is not taken seriously. Strong is why there is less empathy for us. Strong is why we're put last in every movement, because we can 'handle' it."
Reading that post made me realize that this false sense of always feeling the need to be strong is sometimes the very thing that can silently kill us. We take on so much, push past so much, endure so much until it is usually to our own detriment. During one of the happiest moments of my life, I found myself literally crumbling inside.
In April, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. For years, I'd prayed to one day have a daughter. The day finally came and as soon as we arrived home from the hospital, I started to feel everything but joyful.
I felt sad, overwhelmed, and I couldn't shake it. I Google-searched my symptoms and the first thing that popped up was PPD, also known as postpartum depression.
I had to Google it because this was something I'd never heard discussed among my family or mommy friends. Why is that? It may be because we typically hold these kinds of things inside and deal with them as best as we can. Sometimes we hold it in because we want to feel strong and admitting these feelings could be presumed "weak"... but that is completely false.
Having a child during a pandemic was one of the loneliest, most mentally exhausting things I had ever done.
It was mentally exhausting because of the constant thought of how to best protect my daughter to make sure she doesn't get COVID-19. In addition, due to all of the social distancing, we didn't get to spend this time with family and friends. Although I had my husband and son, I couldn't quite explain what I was feeling so I tried to deal with it on my own. I would pray daily and simply ask God what is wrong with me while crying in the shower. It became an everyday occurrence. Then, I decided to talk to my husband about it.
He was so supportive and understanding, and it was the positivity I needed. I then decided to seek professional help to try and get through it. Nine weeks later, I still have days where I just don't feel like myself but things are getting better. Although what worked for me may not work for the next woman, I wanted to share a few ways that I was able to better manage my PPD.
Do Something Productive
The work that I do for my clients as a publisher brings me joy so I began to work more to keep my mind occupied and my days productive.
Even if it's just a quick walk around the neighborhood, do something that'll get you active. Studies show that even just 30 minutes of outdoor activity can have significant benefits for our mind and health.
Utilize Online Resources
With social distancing in place, there are a ton of virtual therapy sessions available. Open Path Collective is a great, affordable therapy option.
Have A Support System
There are people around you who care and would love to be there for you. Reach out to someone that you trust and share how you're feeling. Their positivity will boost your spirit and help you through.
Remember, you are not in this alone. There are other women battling the same thing. Be patient with yourself. You just gave birth to a beautiful miracle, it's OK to take your cape off for a moment. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable, to discuss what you're feeling, and to seek help takes true strength.
You'll always be Superwoman, but even the strongest heroes need a little extra love and encouragement sometimes. You've got this.
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