Running From the Thief: Postpartum Mood Disorders
Complete disclosure: I have started and deleted and started and deleted this blog post at least a dozen times. You want to know why? Because for me, postpartum depression and anxiety is an absolute thief and right now it is stealing my confidence. I have spent the past 8 weeks reading extraordinary blog post after extraordinary blog post by our SIR Ambassadors and my postpartum depression and anxiety is telling me that I am not enough. I am not a good enough writer, my story is not extraordinary enough to share with others, and I do not deserve this platform. So there is your full disclosure. Now, onto the rest of my post.
Being a parent is hard; so freaking hard. You have this idea of what parenthood will be; all the wonderful things people tell you about becoming a mom, BUT nobody seems to tell you about the hard side or the scary side or the dark side that becoming a mom can bring to your thoughts and to your life. Let’s back up the train a bit. I am a mom to three incredibly strong, beautiful, funny, and brave girls and I am married to their father, a United States Naval Officer of 12 years. In addition, I also have a Master’s Degree in Human Development. I am a Girls on the Run Coach. And, I am a runner and I have postpartum depression and anxiety.
My postpartum mood disorder was officially diagnosed when my now 5-year-old was just 2 years old. Knowing what I know now, I had been suffering from both postpartum depression and anxiety since she was born. For me, it was the perfect storm of events: bringing a second baby into the family, it was the middle of winter in New England, and my husband was unexpectedly stationed across the country for months. I was by myself with two young children and stuck in my house during a terrible winter. Worse than that though, I was stuck inside my own mind. The intrusive thoughts began: there is a blizzard, what if something happens… how will someone get to us? The random bump on my torso, it’s surely cancer. There is ceramic tile at the bottom of the stairs, what if I fall down the stairs with the baby in my arms? Remember that thief that I mentioned earlier? That thief was stealing so much from me. The thief was stealing the joy of my children. I couldn’t keep my mind focused on the now, and I was always looking for an exit or planning for the worst. The thief was stealing the connection to those that I loved. I didn’t have the time to keep in touch with people because my brain was completely exhausted from surviving the day. The thief was stealing my motivation. I had goals and ideas of things I wanted to accomplish but they just never happened. The thief was stealing me. I wasn’t Kari anymore. I was the shell of the person that I was before the thief came in and stole the core of my being. Something had to change.
Enter Girls On The Run
I remember flipping through a magazine and seeing an article about Girls on the Run. Running had not been a consistent part of my life at that time, but I thought the combination of working with young girls and running might be a good form of self-care. Becoming a Girls on the Run Coach ended up being the BEST form of self-care. Girls on the Run ignited my love for running, gave me the confidence to stop the thief from stealing all the good in my life, made me realize that I had a purpose outside of my home, and made me feel more like me again. I knew that twice a week I would have the opportunity to touch the lives of these young girls and help them reach their goal of running a 5k. Coaching these young girls inspired me to work towards being a better version of myself.