Day 1 – (Lost) Identity.

The other day Jayden (my son) and my friend were playing with Lego blocks, building shapes, and structures, and laughing. I was in the other room, listening in on their chit-chat. My friend, let’s call her Sandra, told Jayden that, matter of fact, I was mommy to both of them. Jayden gives her this puzzled look, like, ‘What do you mean my mom has two children?’ ‘Where have you been all this time?’ ‘How Now?’ So after a minute or two, my son tells her, ‘No, my mom is not your mom. She is my mom’ Sandra: She is my mom. Jayden: Noo *insert shrieks* back and forth, until Lego blocks had to be built again.

I listened in surreptitiously, a conversation that probably none of them recall. But it left an impression in my heart and mind. On the identity we relate to, the identity accorded to us, who we are, whose we are. Looking at this through the lens of Post Partum Depression (PPD), I couldn’t help but heave a sigh, not a sigh of relief. a sigh of reflection, if there is something like that. Here’s why: For the longest time during PPD, I felt like I had lost my identity. Like the core of who I really am was warped in an alchemy of confused, depressed suicidal thoughts.

See, here is the thing about depression: It changes how you view yourself, your strengths, weaknesses and even experiences. It is harder when it is compounded with the challenges that come with been a new mom. Prior to motherhood, I was the kind of person with an extremely bubbly personality, the girl talking volubly at the bar counter, the one dancing the night away before retiring to the covers in the wee hours of the morning. Carefree, go-getter, loving life and the curves it threw, curves which look diminished now. I’d embraced a lifestyle of profligacy, carefully veiled as ‘living in the present’. Looking back, this may not have been the perfect way to live, but it showed who I was at the core, a vivacious girl.

Enter motherhood, enter sleepless nights, enter dozens of bibs and diaper counter higher than the number of medals belonging to Kenya’s hotbed of athlete championships. This was new, foreign, strange even. The change from bubbly to bitter was not drastic. I slipped away, slowly but surely. I stopped enjoying life. Suddenly, all the hopes I had for motherhood became a distant memory, fading into a foggy space. Instead of looking at life with hope and excitement for untrammeled possibilities, all I had were erratic thoughts, capricious words to my-then infant, and a hazy idea of who I really was.

My identity was gone, completely. I’d struggle to simply get through the day, elbow-deep in baby poop and drool, only to stare blankly at night when all else was silent. On good days, my son slept say 4 hours in a row, on bad nights, we’d count down to the rooster crowing at the break of dawn, and when the sun shone, all I saw was its glow on my half-baked hopes of ‘good’ mom.

In retrospect, I am learning that depression, whether post-partum or otherwise, seeks to shake us at the core of who we are, our identity, who we perceive ourselves to be. It is not a one-off thing like one would have on a single day. It is persistent, hanging around, stifling any joyous moments, getting rid of all hopes for a better day. Today, I am learning that PPD is a condition, it is not who I am, neither is it who I want to be. I will not say it gets better overnight, or in a week, or a year. I will say hanging on is good enough, hanging on to hope, and knowing you are never alone in the journey of motherhood.It is the first step in loosening the grip that depression has on moms. This, often accompanied by the sheer terror of battling this haze alone, wondering whether any other moms feel like you. whether other moms really do not experience the bond that breastfeeding is purported to foster, whether other moms dislike their kids… truth is, one is never alone, even though it feels like that 90% of the time.

Speaking of been alone and lost identity, during my 5AM morning devotion, I read Isaiah 43 which puts it succinctly that I am never alone. Verses 2 & 4 lept at me:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you,

When you walk through fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you…  

Because you are precious in my sight, and honored…

What reassurance to know that I am watched over by The One, that God cares for me, and even amid life’s tempest, I am Never alone. Here’s to letting other moms know, you are not alone in the darkness that PPD is. There’s a way out.You may lose your identity, but don’t let go, hang on. Hang on to His words, if you may.

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Simple joys that transform my days <3

Feautured Image Credits: Abigail Rylance

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  1. I still find it hard to believe you were going through all that and still had time to encourage a new mum like me. You have no idea the effects your encouragement had on me that time. in retrospect, the sleepless nights almost drove me crazy, i celebrated when she slept for four hours straight!!
    Nice article!

    1. ahh, masks Eucabeth!! plus, I figured, what use is there scaring a mom-to-be when I couldn’t even help myself?? Looking back, those sleepless nights were a huuuuge trigger for me!! To think now he does 10 straight hours, even 11, fully potty trained… it’s humbling actually.

      Thank you for reading Eucabeth!

  2. I love the line “Depression is not who I am and neither who I want to be” . I too suffer from anxiety and depression and I could remember when I just stayed in my room for weeks on days. At this time in my life , my twenties, where I should have been enjoying myself was remembered as a bust. I lost who I was as a matter of fact I did not know who I was. All I knew was my experiences of feeling down, unconfident and low self esteem. When I began to take medication I began to seek the light of who I am. When I think of depression it is a gift in disguise because it can tear you down and forces you to build yourself up. I have come a long way since those days. I still get anxious and depression but I know some of my triggers that could lead me down the wrong way and thats when I have to STOP IT IN ITS TRACKS!!

    1. Most of the memories from PPD are hazy at best, but it is comforting to know that when you get to the lowest pit, the only way out is forward. Like you say, rebuilding ones self. It is a long journey, I am glad you relate to some of the challenges, and even happier you are able to recognize triggers and act on them. Hugs to you Caroline.

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