This week, in A Mommy Story, we learn about Sunny. Sunny suffered from Postpartum Depression, which impacted her weight and self-esteem. Learn more about her story.
After what felt like an eternity, I FINALLY got the disc from our photographer with our family photos on it. We’ve never taken photos together as a family, so I couldn’t wait to see those images that I would treasure for the rest of my life. As I started up my computer, I was giddy with excitement. Then, the first image popped up. To my horror, I discovered a woman I didn’t recognize sitting with my husband and little girl on her lap.
This couldn’t possibly be me! I had bought a brand new outfit and spent an hour doing my makeup! This woman looked like she had just crawled out of a McDonald’s dumpster after scavenging for scraps to shove into her fat, protruding belly. Her smile was hidden between two poofs of cheeks and a double chin so bad that only Jabba the Hut could possibly compete. Her chest was bursting above the seam of her bra, making it look like she had a quad-boob that was clearly visible underneath a shirt that clearly was two sizes too small. As I clicked through image after image, the horror I felt spread through every inch of me. I felt sick to my stomach, and before I knew it, tears were streaming from my eyes.
I knew I’d gained a little bit of weight, but I couldn’t possibly look like THAT.
I decided to brave the scale. I needed to know the damage that had been done. The number that appeared was almost beyond my capability of believing. I was so stunned I could barely feel any emotion. When it finally hit me, it overcame me like a tsunami.
I had been feeling so proud of myself for having such a good few months. I really felt like I was conquering my postpartum depression. I hadn’t felt that strong in years. Yet, I stared blankly in misery at the wall, overcome by the pain of realizing how fat I’d become. It felt like I’d taken a huge step backwards. It was as if I’d never conquered anything. It was like my depression was rearing its ugly head again to strike me down. This time, there’d be no way out.
To clarify, I’m not upset because I gained a little pushin’ for the cushion. I had gained almost 150 pounds. I come from a family that does have a lot of obese people, so there was always a risk that if I didn’t take care of myself, I could gain weight easily.
When I got married, I (like many others) put on some weight right in the beginning. What can I say? I was happily eating and loving life in newlywed bliss! I found out I was pregnant only a few months later, and after just one year of marriage we welcomed our beautiful baby girl to the world.
Everything should have been perfect…except that it wasn’t.
My daughter was a dream baby, my life was going well, but I couldn’t find the energy to keep going. I’m generally a very positive person with a sense of humor (well.. I laugh at my own jokes at least!) and I like to stay busy.
After I had a baby, I stopped having the drive to do anything. I couldn’t laugh about little jokes anymore. I had to fight with myself to get out of the house, especially if it involved seeing people. I would go days, even sometimes up to a couple of weeks, without showering, because it just felt so overwhelming and difficult. I would lay in bed and hear my baby crying; my chest would be painful and leaking because I needed to feed my baby. It was too hard to comprehend getting up and caring for the baby. I couldn’t stop myself from having these horrible, awful visions and thoughts of terrible things happening to my daughter. I would cry because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Was this the new norm? Why did I feel like this? WHAT is this? I barely did more than eat or sleep. I never even thought twice about weighing myself or trying to be healthy with everything else going on in my brain.
Eventually, it got bad enough that I started to make myself sick. At one point, I ended up in the hospital and my husband finally forced me to talk to a doctor. I discovered I had depression. I was confused at first. I didn’t feel sad so how could this be depression? I quickly learned that depression is more than just feeling sad. It completely changed me as a person and rocked my world. Thankfully, I have an amazing support system. Over the course of the next year, with the help of medicine and doctors, I was able to overcome most of my depression.
I finally felt like a new woman. It was like I was capable and I could breathe again. However, when I got our family photos back, I saw a victim of depression; I saw what had happened to her body during the time she was struggling with depression, she didn’t even know what was happening to her.
It was an almost suffocating feeling; having the realization that I was almost 300 pounds and only 22 years old. I may have been feeling much better recovering from depression, but my self-esteem was lower than it ever has been in my life. Feeling so ugly makes it hard to have confidence in anything you do. I believe it affected my ability to interview for jobs, my grades in school, and it definitely affected my relationship with my husband. I was insecure, I felt lost and reckless. I was certain my life and everything in it would fail because I didn’t have the confidence to make it happen. I know, it sounds dramatic, but it really was the truth. Looking back on my actions and how I handled every experience, is evidence of those insecurities. I got really lucky that I was able to have any margin of success in school, work, or my relationships when I felt so insecure about myself. I spent years struggling with those insecurities, hiding from cameras, refusing to try for jobs I wanted because I believed I was too fat for the interviewer to take me seriously. I avoided my friends because I was embarrassed for them to see me. I separated myself from my husband because I was worried that he wouldn’t want me now that I wasn’t the young hot blonde he had married.
Having that lack of self-respect and self-confidence was honestly almost as crippling to my life as my postpartum depression was.
Then I had a moment with my mom. She mentioned how she hated being in photos with us when we were growing up because she was overweight. I realized she was right; I really don’t have that many photos of my mom from when I was a kid, and I wish that I did. I don’t care that she was overweight; she is my mom and I love her. I wish I had those photos to remember the fun times I had with her. That realization is what changed me, because as a mom, I want to be remembered and loved by my children, no matter WHAT I think about myself.
I started losing weight by making better decisions in my eating habits and trying to exercise more. Then I got pregnant with my second baby. I had an epiphany. I realized what a miracle it is that my body is able to literally create another human. Right down to the individual eyelashes and fuzzy hair on her ears! My body, no matter how much I wish it looked different, is absolutely incredible and resilient. It may not be perfect, but it is mine and I deserve better than what credit I have given myself. I have since lost over 60 pounds, and while I’m still significantly overweight I have found that I’m more capable and strong than I ever thought I could be. I can actually look in the mirror and be proud of myself.
Of course, I still have things I wish I could change and I still struggle with my insecurities. I think it’s a journey I’ll be on for the rest of my life. However, having the confidence to keep my head up and realize that I can conquer this challenge has made me able to see myself in a different light. I recognize that I am more than obesity or depression. I have the power to love myself and the strength to keep trying to improve myself because I deserve it.
Sunny is a mommy/lifestyle blogger with a passion for living life to the fullest, in all of its messy, beautiful glory. She started her blog after her experience with postpartum depression as a form of self-therapy, and has since turned it into a source of creative inspiration to share her story with other girl bosses and mamas out there. Please visit her wonderful blog at http://onyxandblushco.com/