On the floor of my crying baby's nursery, silently screaming, silently crying, feeling emotions so incredibly strong that take every ounce of worthiness out of my soul. This is the image in my mind and heart when I think of my experience with Postpartum Depression. Never would I have ever thought that possible of my normally positive, optimistically, joyful self. I never truly understood the value health and fitness can have on your mental health. My pregnancies were high risk and painful; painful to move, stand, walk or shift in bed. From about 23 weeks on when I would stand up and move I would immediately have painful contractions until I sat down and stopped moving. I was pretty sedentary from 20 weeks to 30, then was on limited bedrest from then on. During that time, not only does chronic pain, the weight gain, not being able to move without hurting affect your mind, but having early babies because of MY body affects it negatively as well. My water broke within minutes of being 6 weeks early resulting in 17 NICU days and the most traumatizing year of my life. Both pregnancies I gained a lot of weight (even with preemie babies), both times I struggled with Postpartum Depression, both times I was on my own quite often (no close friends near, husband working a lot, living so far out of town), both times I did the majority of my struggling alone, both times I started with very little of my previous muscle mass and both times I lost all the weight and improved muscle mass and performance from each pre-pregnancy.
Exercising used to be a means to be thin for me. That quickly changed with the PPD after my babies. Running, training for races is how I shed nearly all the baby weight both times, but all those miles logged both on and off the treadmill were therapy. Necessary for my healing, my sanity and my family. Making myself a priority helped me feel of worth, of value and importance; three things the depression took away. It hasn't totally "cured" me. I still work through PMDD and seasonal depression and exercise is essential in that. What it did do is empower me when I smashed goals, did things with my body I thought only athletes and competitors could do. My sense of self worth, my confidence, my value as an individual, mother and wife all became so apparent to me. I am worthy of happiness and freedom from the chains of depression - my children are deserving of a mother who will be there for them physically, mentally and emotionally their entire life. My husband deserves a wife who is happy, supportive, loving and confident. I've never seen my husband so down as when I was; when I would call him sobbing on the phone because I was so SAD. I was stressed, anxious, down, feeling so worthless and in the end all that did was bury him with me; we were both drowning. We both thrive when I am and vice versa. I am worthy of hard work, sacrifice, of effort of aiming high, believing and making that happen. Because when you realize how important you are to those around you, how your health is reflected in theirs, you do everything you can to take care of yourself so you can better take care of them. I truly believe we are all worthy and capable of achieving the greatness we desire. Worthiness. It isn't earned, it just is. We are all inherently worthy of happiness, of freedom and joy. We are worthy of hard work and sacrifice. We are worthy of the wonderful, positive consequences that will come because of that work. I have always said my physical transformation is an outward manifestation of the one that has happened mentally. So I put in work every day because both myself and those closest to me are worth all of the happiness and peace it brings.