bouquet of flowers in vase

5 Years After Postpartum Depression

It’s 5 years out from the day I went to the emergency room for postpartum depression

July 26th will always be a significant date to me for that reason. In years past, it was always a day that filled me with guilt and shame. A day that reminded me of my ultimate failure as a mother. 

The lie that “I’m not a good mother” still tries to creep in every so often, especially today, but I’m getting better at recognizing it for what it is: a lie. 

5 years ago what I needed was to get help. I needed to go to the psych hospital and recover until I could be safe enough to be on my own. I gave up a week of my life with my baby so I could spend the rest of my life being the mother he needed me to be. It was the right decision. 

I’m thankful to my husband for having the courage to make the difficult decision to take me to the ER. It was scary and stressful, and I wasn’t in any state of mind to be at all helpful. I’m thankful for his background in mental health and for his experience with crisis work. I’m thankful he didn’t wait and hope I would get better on my own. 

I’m thankful for the person I’ve become because of this experience. I’m thankful for the opportunity to practice vulnerability with people, to share my story with others, and to make meaning out of suffering. 

I’m grateful for my postpartum depression being a wake up call to my obsession with perfection. I appreciate how this experience humbled me, how it helped me to realize that I’m not in control of everything, and how I learned that doing my best is oftentimes better than doing something perfectly. And everyone’s “best” looks different.

I’m grateful to be in a healthy place emotionally about this experience. I really feel like I hit a turning point last year, 4 years after the event. Honestly, I think it took about 3-4 years to really fully recover mentally from the depression. Healing is such a long process. 

I’ve said before that going through this made me a stronger person, but I am only stronger because I recognize my weaknesses and my shortcomings. And because I accept them. I accept myself.  

I’m grateful to have been writing on Threads of Anxiety for four years now, and look forward to more years in the future. 

Thanks for reading.

Anger² – Being an Enneagram Type 1

How did I know I was an Enneagram type One? A single word: anger.

Many people after initially meeting me will tell me that I seem like such a laid-back, easy-going person – that they couldn’t imagine what I would look like angry. What they don’t know is that anger is second nature to me, it’s frequently raging under the surface while on the outside I’m trying to appear calm and collected.

I guess that’s pretty textbook for type Ones. Here’s an excerpt about Ones from The Enneagram Institute:
“In the effort to stay true to their principles, Ones resist being affected by their instinctual drives, consciously not giving in to them or expressing them too freely. The result is a personality type that has problems with repression, resistance, and aggression. They are usually seen by others as highly self- controlled, even rigid, although this is not how Ones experience themselves.”

When I learned that type Ones are in the “Anger triad” and that they also have their “passion/drive” as anger, I thought to myself, “that’s double anger… must be me.”

So how does this anger manifest itself for me? If I’m honest, many times it comes out as anger or annoyance with other people. A lot of Ones have an “inner critic” that they can’t get out of their head, and it’s constantly telling them that they could have done better. It’s easy to see why Ones are labeled the “Perfectionist.” My inner critic is there, but it is more outwardly focused. I notice when things are out of place in my environment, when there’s too much clutter for example. I also notice when other people aren’t following the rules – I’m a BIG rule-follower, which I think is also pretty typical for Ones.

I have a hard time when things are not fair – it makes me angry (go figure.) I prefer for most things to be done in a structured and orderly manner, and when things are too chaotic or by-the-seat-of-your-pants, I tend to think they could have been done better with a little more planning and effort. I hold myself to high standards and want others to do the same.

But the reality is most people don’t have the same standards I do… so I end up setting myself up for a lot of disappointment (or anger – are you catching on?… literally everything has the potential to make me angry.)

5 years ago – my husband and I dressed up as Inside Out characters for Halloween – ironically he was “Anger”

It’s a bit embarrassing to say that I struggle so much with anger. I frequently find myself wishing to be a person who can just play it cool, that lets things roll off of them, and is care-free most of the time. (That is pretty much my husband – he’s a Type 9.)

But the Enneagram’s purpose is not to compare yourself to others, or to wish that you were a “better” number. There’s no “better” or “best” number, they all have strengths and weaknesses.

The Enneagram is a helpful tool to discover more about yourself, and then accept what you’ve learned with self-compassion. Accepting yourself doesn’t mean you find excuses to be the worst version of yourself (like for example: “I’m a One so I guess I deserve to be angry all the time!”) With self-awareness and acceptance, you can move forward to growing into the best version of yourself – which is really the heart of why the Enneagram is so valuable.

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Hitting Your “Save Point”

Another video game related post?

Not really – this one doesn’t have much to do with video games, it’s mostly just a play on words. I was scrolling through my social media feed, wasting time… and I came across a post that said:

Reaching 30 is like making it to a save point

I don’t know who to credit this quote to – it was one of those posts that had been shared and reshared/recreated many times. The context of the post was debating which years/decade were supposed to be the best time of your life. I think one cliché is that high school or college is the best time of your life, and then after that your life slowly gets worse and worse, or at least busier or more stressful. #adulting

If you’ve played a variety of video games, you are probably already familiar with save points. They are in games that don’t automatically save as you go, but instead you have to reach a certain point before it saves your progress. Sometimes it can be really hard to get to the save point (you may end up dying multiple times) so when you finally reach it, it’s like a breath of fresh air.

Right before I turned 30, a good friend of mine (who was a year or so older) told me that your 30s are so much better than your 20s. Despite some skepticism on my part, I have (so far) found this to be a true statement.

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