When I became a mother back in 2016 I felt consumed by motherhood. I was overwhelmed by lack of sleep, bottles, breastfeeding and nipple cream. Fast forward to 2018, I had my second child and the overwhelm was unbearable. After the birth of my second child, I seriously struggled with my mental health. I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression and Postpartum Rage. Although this experience was not what I had expected going into becoming a mother of two – disclaimer: I really thought because I had done the whole having a kid thing before, I’d be a pro the second time around (jokes on me right); it taught me so much more about who I am than I could have ever imagined.

In 2018, when I was struggling with anger and rage, I went to see a therapist. I can remember so clearly the day I realized I was the biggest problem in our family dynamic. I was sitting in her office, explaining to her how the tantrums of my 2 year old and the cries of my newborn daughter would send me over the edge, when she asked the question, “When you were young, what would happen if you whined and cried?”. I looked at her in disbelief. Did she not hear me? Did she not realize that I wanted to talk about my kids that were driving me crazy? What kind of therapist is she anyway? I figured this was done, I would never be back to see her again. I looked at her and said “I was always told to stop crying, I was put into my room for crying, and was told I could come out when I was done”. She sighed, and she said “I think your children are triggering your own inner child, who was never allowed to express those more difficult emotions. Your children have opened a wound that has been sitting for years and that is why it is so difficult for you to sit with your own children while they have these difficult emotions”. This sentence hit me so hard. It was in this exact moment that everything changed for me. From that day forward I have been working on myself. I have found my triggers, I have learned my limits, I actively try to yell less and speak calmly more, I apologize to my kids when I make mistakes (and there are many mistakes and always will be) and I keep the line of communication open for all emotions. Postpartum depression and Postpartum Rage was horrible, but if it wasn’t for this experience, I am not sure that I would be the mother I am today. This experience taught me that moms matter. We arguably matter the most. When the mother is struggling, the whole family struggles and you will never be able to convince me otherwise.

Since my battle with Postpartum in 2018, I have had one other depressive episode in 2021. One thing they don’t always tell you about Postpartum Depression – it can change into regular depression, and decide to stick around for a while. 2021 hit different. I was a full time “healthcare hero” working in the hospital during the pandemic, high stress, no staff and unbelievably burnt out. To be quite honest, the entire year of 2021 is a blur because I don’t remember much of it. I would get up, go to work, do what needed to be done, come home and disassociate. I was having conversations with my children and my spouse and having no recollection of them. I was a shell of a human being and it was becoming noticeable to my children. One day after work my son said to me “Mom, are you happy?”. This question broke my heart. I didn’t have to even ask him why he would ask me that, I knew he saw it. The happy mom he used to have was gone. She was not taking care of herself (again), putting everyone else’s needs above her own, and because of these choices, a depressive episode had taken her over. He had lost his mom to another mental health episode. 

Healing looked different this time. I went off work, I went on medication and I prioritized myself and my mental health over everything. I have been in therapy ever since this day and I have no plans to leave. Healing this time has also looked different because the inner work is actively being done every, single day. I do it for me, but I also do it for my children. My children need a happy mom who loves her life. During this healing process I have looked so far inward that many things have changed in my life. I no longer work the way I used to, I have changed career paths and the biggest thing is that I will no longer sit somewhere that makes me unhappy. My children helped me see that what I want matters, what I need matters and if that means changing the path I had set out on in this life, then so be it. I am allowed to change my mind. They also helped me understand that a good mom is a happy mom. They need a mother who is present and happy. Removing the weight of the societal expectations of what a mom is has been the most rewarding feeling and I have them to thank for it. I am the perfect mom for them just as I am.

Something you will hear a lot when you become a mother is that we “lose ourselves” in motherhood. I challenge you to rethink that statement. I have struggled so much since becoming a mother, but I think that my children saved me. I think these challenges came up for me because I was lost so long ago and had never found my way back to myself. I have now, and I have them to thank for that.

Amanda started a podcast in 2020 called Honest as a Mother where she is trying to normalize all “taboo” topics of motherhood. Since starting the podcast in 2020, she has also released two books called “Honest as a Mother, personal essays that will make you not feel alone”. These books are full of stories written by beautiful mothers who were brave enough to share their stories. Find the first book here and the second book here!