Written by Leslie Pelon
Note to the reader: I wrote this letter to commemorate two years since I began treatment for Postpartum Depression. I publish it here as a tribute and help to all the caretakers, especially the husbands, helping other women who are fighting postpartum depression. These are my experiences, and while your story may be different, don’t stop fighting. I promise, it does get better.
Two and a half years ago our baby girl was born. Can you believe it? She is walking around sassing everyone and telling her big brother what he can and cannot do. The day she was born I remember the look in your eyes; it was the one I had spent all those months hoping for. I knew in that moment that I was no longer the only woman to hold a piece of your heart, and for the rest of our lives I would have to share you with that perfect brown-eyed girl. And I’d never been so happy. She was and is the best surprise gift we have ever received. She made our family complete.
So I still don’t know how less than six months later I found myself on the bathroom floor fighting a losing battle against overwhelming depression, anxiety, and a soul crushing sense of hopelessness. I sat on the cold tile and truly felt that you and our children would be better if I was just gone. Somehow darkness had taken over my life, sucking away all the joy, and I knew I needed help.
I thought you would hate me or be disappointed, but you weren't. And I don't think I've ever thanked you for that.
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I never thanked you for not panicking or screaming at me. You just hugged me and said “How can I help?” Somehow you seemed to know that I needed a quiet hand. That an angry or scared reaction would just make me feel worse. You didn’t call me a coward or selfish. You didn’t attack or accuse. You just held me and loved me. I can’t imagine what that moment was like for you, but you kept your head and your heart in check while you took care of your broken wife.
I never thanked you for holding me while I cried for the next two days, just listening and letting me take the lead. You knew for the moment I had it under control. If I hadn't been I’m sure you would have pushed harder. But again you kept calm and stayed my rock while I dealt with what I was feeling and asking of you. You told me whatever I wanted to do to heal was okay with you, as long as I did something.
I never thanked you for keeping me safe while I figured out what to do next. And that when what I needed was to confide in my girlfriends you supported me in that without getting mad that I was blocking you out. Looking back, I can imagine how this must have felt for you. I had turned to others to help me get to the doctor and to help lift the burden. I’m sorry, that was so unfair. But not once have you ever made me feel guilty for doing that. You seemed to understand that coming to you hurt. Our life was so good. You were working so hard to make me happy, and yet, somehow, I wasn’t. I thought if I could keep you out of it that I would not hurt you or make you feel like you were not enough.
I never thanked you for telling me not to be ashamed when I came home with a diagnosis of Postpartum Depression, a therapist, and a prescription. Not only did you support me in my different treatment plans, but you made sure I stuck to them, even when the meds cost us money that we really couldn’t afford. I never had to worry about you thinking I was "faking" or that if I just “tried harder I would be fine."
I never thanked you for stepping up and helping out on those days the meds and coping techniques were not enough, and I spent the day curled up on the couch crying while the kids watched hours of Octonauts and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. You didn’t tell me to get off my butt or ask, “Why aren’t you better yet?” You just picked up pizza, tucked me in bed, and spent evenings you should have been studying playing with the kids.
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I never thanked you for telling me that it was okay to spend some money on paper plates and plastic silverware. I didn’t think I could do it the day my therapist suggested that I cut back in my life, and that getting rid of dishes was the first step she wanted me to take. But you said “of course” without a second thought. Every step of the way you made sure that I did the homework my therapist gave me and never once brought up the cost or extra effort it took on your part.
I never thanked you for helping me figure out how to try and wean myself off the meds when the time came. You took it seriously and did the research. You made sure I was smart and safe about it. And later, when I relapsed and had to go back on them, you never once made me feel like a failure for it.
I never thanked you for supporting me as I became more and more vocal about my experience. I have gone around sharing personal things about our family with the world and you have always been my support. You have championed me and let me own my story. And I know that if I had wanted to keep it quiet you would have supported that too.
I never thanked you for any of it.
So here we are, two years later. I am still healing. There are still couch days, and I often wonder if I will ever be really “healed." But we are back to using real dishes and you’ve only had to pick up Little Caesar’s once this month. These may seem like small milestones, but when I look back to the woman on the bathroom floor I can see how far I’ve come and I have hope for our future. And now I’m healed enough to realize that I should say thank you for all you did to get me here.
So thank you. Thank you for seeing the woman you married through the disease that tried to steal her. Thank you for never doubting me. Thank you for helping me maintain my dignity and control over my own healing as much as possible. Thank you for being willing to commit me if it had come to that. Thank you for never once laughing when I came in with the next “home remedy," that without fail didn’t work and made the house smell weird. Thank you for protecting our babies from my dark moments and days. Thank you for being a judgment-free zone. Thank you for never telling me to “pray it away,” but always being there to pray with me.
Most of all thank you for believing, and telling me, I’m a good mom.
Just, thank you.
Your Wife, A Postpartum Depression Survivor
"You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly."
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