Postpartum Depression Has a Face- It’s The Woman Standing Next To You

โ€‹I wanted to write this post for a while now. I started it several times, and walked away. Now that it’s over it’s difficult to look at how bad it actually was, but I think there’s a part of me that will always see my life as before and after this.

Our world of visuals and social media pours out an onslaught of information and pictures, and yet there’s still this misconception that depression looks sad, that mental illness is easily recognized, that the person sitting next to you is exactly what you think.

But sometimes depression looks like this:

Or this:

Or this:

I had this picture in my mind of PPD and it never included me. I pictured it as somehow being directed toward my baby, but for me it wasn’t that way. 

Depression looks different on different people. 

Sometimes postpartum depression is sitting in a room full of people and feeling totally alone. It’s smiling, and chatting, and saying all the right things, while your mind is screaming out, “Can’t you see this? Can’t you see what’s wrong with me?” Sometimes it’s gasping for air and crying so hard your body aches. Sometimes it’s being afraid to be alone, but then desperately wishing all these people weren’t around. Sometimes it’s like watching yourself from outside yourself and feeling like a shadow.

Postpartum depression doesn’t carry a name tag.

Sometimes it looks like this:

Or this:

Or this:

It’s clinging to that loving hand that wants so much to help and fix it, but he can’t. And knowing that he wants to and can’t makes you feel even worse, and even more depressed. Or on another day, not wanting him anywhere near and resenting that he can’t understand what’s going on. And then more guilt that there was resentment when he’s trying his best and is so confused. It’s feeling panic one moment, and not caring about anything at all the next. It’s feeling totally suffocated by basic tasks like washing a dish or making a phone call – and then feeling overwhelmed by all the things that didn’t get done.

It’s lonely. Depression is so desperately, horribly lonely.

I went through all the motions, I followed all the rules, I thought if I could just get through the day, tomorrow would be better. I smiled. And I smiled. And I smiled. I kissed my husband goodbye every day, and parented alone for hours and days and nights. I held my babies, and read them stories, made them snacks, took them to parties. Kind, good, wonderful people everywhere. Surrounded by people and I felt invisible. 

I quickly realized that some people were easier than others to be around. Some people would leave my heart feeling rested, and I found myself trying to be near them, and avoid others. There were women who lifted me up without knowing I had fallen. There was love there, there was good… I can see it now so clearly, but I couldn’t then. 

People told me I was such a good mother, such a good wife, such a happy person. And I wanted just one person to ASK. “Are you okay?” I wanted just one person to notice what I couldn’t find the words to say. (A lot of them actually did notice, and when I  started to open up, they ended up telling me so.) 

I couldn’t understand. The depression I’d experienced during pregnancy had passed. Cassandra was born and that cloud had lifted. I was myself again. The weeks passed and everything felt normal – as normal as life ever is with 4 kids! And then when she was about 3 months, it came crashing back in with a fury, and I couldn’t stop the waves.

Tomorrow will better, tomorrow will be better, tomorrow will be better.

Days worth of todays and tomorrows, stuck in a box of horror, and I couldn’t find the door.

And then tomorrow came, and I found myself standing in front of the mirror, tears streaming down my face, a weight on my chest that I couldn’t remove – and in that moment, I understood.

I stood there in the quiet house, my husband at work, my babies sleeping peacefully. And I thought, for the first time in my life, that it might be better for my sweet loves if I wasn’t here at all. It seemed, in that moment, so unfair to all of them, who mean the world to me, that they should have someone like me in their lives. It seemed like such a reasonable option to remove myself from their lives and at the same time escape from this horrible, torturous prison in my own mind.

It’s hard to even write those words. It’s terrifying to realize how the mind can turn on itself and betray the body it leads.

I texted my friend. She saved me that night. I told her everything, and she understood. She’d had it, too. She knew. She could finish my sentences as I was describing what was happening.

I texted another friend. Her practical suggestions and information made things feel manageable, and the path to healing began. 

Sometimes postpartum depression looks like this:

Or this:

Or this: 

I went to the doctor. I got the help I needed. I opened up to trusted friends and family. The baby is almost 7 months now, and the depression has gone. I can hope it has gone for good.

Depression, anxiety, mental illness – they don’t come with casts and bandages, they don’t ring a bell and give their name. They smile and laugh and talk about the weather.

I’m often told that I’m “so happy.” And I am. I believe, I will always believe in the good. But there were days, so many days in this past year that brought me to my knees. Days that I had to quite literally CHOOSE joy and choose love, when everything inside my mind and body was telling me to give up.

Postpartum depression has a face. It’s your neighbor, your friend, your sister, your daughter, your wife.

It’s the woman standing next to you. 



(PS. If any of this sounds too familiar, or you’re struggling, PLEASE reach out. You are not alone, you are not invisible. You are loved and you are needed. Call a friend, call your doctor, don’t wait. Xoxo)

The Beautiful Ordinaryย 


I’ve seen a few different posts floating around social media that seem to be written solely for the purpose of a giant YES! THIS! from the 20 or so people that already agree with it. 

Reasons why millennials aren’t having kids. The importance of DOING ALL THE THINGS before being weighed down by boring life. Life choices that seem unimaginable, argued for in the most degrading language, and desperate terms.

The hopelessness, the anger, the bitterness that poured out managed to shock me, and for several hours the words stuck in my heart, with a vague distate that anyone could write this way, never mind feel it.

Sometimes I think that our photo-filled, “adventure-seeking” world has forgotten how to live, because we’re all too busy running, impressing, buying. There’s this constant expectation that to be fulfilled we must be EXCITING!! Travel! Get a hobby! Try new things! Start a business! Be this, be that! And while we’re all running around trying to do everything and be everything, life is passing by without anyone actually living it.

 Excitement and adventure are good – one part of a well-balanced life. 

One part. Not the whole. 

Excitement without rest becomes stress. Adventure without routine becomes monotony. Self-focus without generosity becomes narcissism. 

Here, in my heart and my family, I am always looking for the balance. I’ve learned to say yes to some things and no to others. I’ve learned that calm in my own mind and soul inevitably trickles out into my home and the hearts around me. 

I look around me and see ordinary – everywhere. In our tiny home, our minimal possessions, our simple food, and our careful budget. I see the faces – all those little faces, and the face of the man I love – all these loved ones that are part of a life I’d dreamed of for so long.

For me, this ordinary life, motherhood, marriage – this is beautiful. In the ordinary, I have found love and a contentment I had never known.

 In this beautiful, ordinary life – I have found everything that matters most to me. 




All The Love In My Heart

Sometimes I look at them and wonder how on earth they’re all mine. ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ‘ง๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ‘ถ

True story –  I started counting down to bedtime around 4:00. I totally skipped pages when I was reading their book. (To be fair, their book of choice was non-fiction about space travel. I mean… what’s wrong with some good old “Curious George” or fairy tales? ๐Ÿ˜‚)
I fed them dinner on paper plates, and I’m not sure who brushed their teeth and who didn’t.

I ran from room to room, answering calls for water, potty, kisses, blankets, and – not for the first time – I wished for my husband to have a “day job” that would leave him home to parent with me for the bedtime hours.

I rushed from child to child, until I heard one small voice call out: “Mommy, you’re the goodest mommy. When I’m a Mommy I’m going to show all my love in my heart like you.”

Oh, you guys. I’m not the goodest mommy, and I was barely feeling like an okay one today. But somehow for them, I was “showing all my love in my heart.”

If I do nothing else in all my life, here, in this home, there will ALWAYS be love.

Some days, we’ll make cute Pinterest desserts, and some days we’ll eat hot dogs on paper plates. Some days, I’ll laugh, and play and read every book in the pile, and some days I’ll skip pages in the one book I read. But always, always, always – I will show them all my love in my heart.

Today and every day – I will show them my love.



I Was Here


I want them to remember that I was here.

Sometimes I was here in big, exciting ways: hosting parties and holidays, arranging surprises, planning vacations, and doing Pinteresty projects.

Sometimes I was here in quiet ways: drying tears, reading books, cuddling during thunderstorms, making snacks, folding laundry, budgeting for necessities and fun, driving them to the activities and friends they love.

Sometimes I was barely here at all, just going through the motions of the day. Watching the clock and wishing it would move more quickly so that I could call for bedtime.

Sometimes I wished I wasn’t here. When the heavy weight crushed down on me, when the enormous responsibility of this motherhood life felt too overwhelming – then I would cry hot, aching tears that didn’t stop, terrified that I was not the mother I am supposed to be, resentful of the freedom that was no longer mine.

But, my sweet loves, Mama was here. Always here. Here for the good and the beautiful that I love to share, and here for the darkness, too.

Remember that Mama was here, that Mama tried and tried again, and remember –  always – that you are loved with every part of my heart.



Happiness Now


“Happiness – not in another place, but this place… not for another hour, but for this hour.”

Sometimes bedtime is quiet and snuggly, with lullabies sung and stories read.

Aaaaand sometimes bedtime looks more like this, with wrestling brothers, my 3-year-old jump-dancing, and the baby left to watch the show from the floor.

Many nights, to be honest, I rush through the bedtime routine, anxious for that tiny break before the night time calls begin. (Even so, with all the calls for “water/kisses/one more/cozy me!!” multiplied by 4 it’s never quite as fast as I’d like! ๐Ÿ˜‚)

ย  But some nights, their laughter is too precious to interrupt, and the minutes tick by with no one caring.

Happiness now, in this place, in this hour. Not tomorrow, or next year – now.

Because this moment is all I am promised with them, and in this moment, I choose love.





Then there’s this. 

This other side of motherhood that nobody else sees. 

Those moments when you think you might be invisible…and then you wish you were so that at least you could drink your coffee in silence. 

Those moments you find yourself crying over the washing machine and thinking that no one has EVER been as terrible a mother as you. 

Raise your hand if you’ve been there!! ๐Ÿ™‹

The other day, I was talking with another mother, whose kids are older now, and she told me, “You’ll miss the hugs and kisses, and as unbelievable as it sounds, you’ll miss the noise!” 

It made me stop and think. Moments, good and bad, are part of every life. But this motherhood thing is about much more than a moment. It’s about a lifetime of moments that are shaping the hearts of my children, and in the meantime, also shaping my own. 

This is why I look for the good,why I share the good – why I am one of those people that loves that silly chain-mail-esque “Love Your Spouse” challenge. 

Not to be fake. Not to say that the bad moments aren’t there. But to acknowledge and remember always that the good is all around. 

Today and every day… I choose joy. I choose love. 



Today I Kissed My Love Goodbye

Today I kissed my love goodbye.

“Don’t forget your dinner!” “Do you have your gun and shield?” “Beep the horn for Lucas when you drive away!” “Come home safe!”

I kissed my love goodbye – and watched him walk away.

Every day.

All these years of practicing this same routine and it somehow has gotten harder instead of easier. That voice inside me wondering – was that the last time?

Was that the last time I’ll feel your lips pressed against mine and feel the strong, firm touch of your hands around me?

Was that the last time your children will yell “Bye, Dad! See you when you get here!” and wait for your return with their faces pressed against the window?

Will you be that faceless man who is called a hero for a week, and then slips from memory? Will I be that wife who is handed a folded flag, sobbing eyes hidden behind dark glasses, a chilling picture of both strength and heartbreak, whose children cling to her as their father is carried away?

I have seen that wife too many times in recent months. Each time it is the same. 

They call her husband a hero – but then they easily forget his sacrifice- and hers. While he is alive, they taunt him, doubt him, curse him – and then when he dies, they give speeches and try to honor his name.

This wife doesn’t want a dead hero. She wants the laughter and love of the man beside her. She wants the man who has seen inside her heart – and stayed to love her. She wants the man who catches her eye across a roomful of noisy littles and laughingly yells, “Hey, let’s take our coffee outside and call it a date!!” She wants that man, not a hero in the ground.

The days go by so quickly, but the nights are long. Those hours in the quiet darkness are a blessing and a curse, part of the endless push and pull of this life.

Today I kissed my love goodbye and while my lips spoke all the same mundane words, my heart called out: “Please don’t go. Today, don’t go. Stay here where you are safe, where you are loved.”

But I don’t say that.

I say: “Have a good night, dearest! Don’t forget your dinner! Come home safe!”

And then I kiss my love goodbye – and watch him walk away.





Because It’s Worth It


My motherhood is a constant pull of emotions in my heart.

There are days I feel overwhelmed by this life, and then there are days I look around and feel incredibly blessed by the happiness and richness of love around me. There are days I think I would give a limb to be able to sit in silence, and then I remember a time when I was sitting in silence, longing for the community and activity and experiences that I now have.

It’s become very on trend to write “Open Letter to That Person In the Store,” or to talk about all the tedious, stressful parts of motherhood. 
Those things are all real. I’m not trying to be fake or flippant. 

But for me, perspective is everything. 

Realizing that as tired as I am at the end of every day, I’m tired from doing the job I love most of all. Appreciating that even when mistakes are made, my children never doubt my love. And feeling grateful that through motherhood, by opening my heart to the good, so many beautiful, strong people have become part of my world. 

I will still be bummed when my kids wake me up at 7 on a weekend instead of sleeping in till 11. My teething toddler’s screams are no more pleasant to me than to anyone else. ๐Ÿ™‰ But I will choose joy. Every day I will CHOOSE joy and love. 
Not because it’s always easy. Because it’s always worth it.


My Life In Pictures


“My life in pictures.” 

I happened on that catchy hashtag while browsing Instagram one night, and now I always use it because it’s kind of perfect.

 There are many days that feel blurred together, so many conversations, responsibilities, and interactions. (I called to make an appointment for one child today and when they asked me for the birth date… my mind went totally blank. He’s my kid, I promise. I just have no idea when he was born. #oops. #truestory)

These days start early and end late and are filled to the brim of non-stop needs and to-dos. Every now and then I wonder if I’m still going to be me when this season is over or if I will be forever lost in the beauty and struggle of motherhood.

I sit in groups and see people easily conversing, but my eyes are always darting around the room, my ears are always halfway open to the sounds of my own children in the crowd.

 Mothering never turns off. There is no “clock in/clock out” for this job. The community in my life has grown larger, as I more deeply appreciate the loving “village” of fellow parents around me. Women (and men!)  who are focused and united in love not judgement; compassion, not pride; and understanding, not criticism. People who lift up.

The depth and the rich love of marriage has taken on a whole new meaning. There are days when I am humbled by the gentle example of loyalty and love in my husband. There are days we look at each other across the table of giggling, shrieking children and think, “Are we crazy?!?!” (We know – some of you have thought that about us, too!! Haha ๐Ÿ˜˜) There are those little pockets of time when we are alone, no little hands tugging or voices questioning, and we can remember all that is beautiful about the US, separate from them. 

In the quiet of the night, I look at all the faces, all the memories, all the little pieces of my life in pictures, and I realize… it is good. 

It is everything I imagined – more.

And it is full of love. 

Xoxo, Anna

PS. Speaking of pictures, if you’re interested in an up-close-and-personal view ๐Ÿ˜‰, these days I post more frequently on Facebook and Instagram, so hop on over and join there, too!! Xoxo

Today, One Day, and Always

Today, my loves, your world is safe, secure. Today your worries are about things like what color cup you want, and who gets to choose our bedtime story. 

Your hearts, so fragile and yet so resilient, feel love strongly and forgive easily. Your notion of evil is from stories and those vaguely ominous “bad guys” in your play together are still nothing more than shadowy creatures in your mind. 

Today, when you cry, your tears are easily dried with cuddles and kisses. Your frustrations can be quickly sorted, your smiles frequently won. 

Today, I will hold your hand when we cross the busy street, I’ll slow my steps to walk beside you, and my heart will smile and cry with yours. 

My love is yours, unconditionally and always.

One day your world will feel much bigger. Evil will have names and faces, and sometimes they will not be as far away as you used to think. 

One day your hearts might feel a pain that seems unimaginable, or be overwhelmed with fear. 

One day the words faith, forgiveness, love, courage, and integrity will take on new meaning for you, as you discover how each one matters within your own hearts. 

You will, without doubt, find yourselves tested to the limits of your strength, and just when you think you cannot go on… you will find a way. It is the struggle and the beauty of life. 

One day your worries will be over financial or moral choices instead of cups, and disagreements will be over relationships, beliefs, jobs and politics instead of bedtime stories. 

But oh, my loves, some things will never change. 

My hands will always be ready to help you, my heart will smile and cry with yours and as you find your paths along this beautiful journey of life, my love will be yours – unconditionally and always!

Xoxo, Anna