postpartum depression, Recovery

This Ain’t Any Ol’ Con

So I am living the hipster life. Typing on a table so repurposedly wonky my laptop rocks back and forth disconcertingly. In sun-dappled shade as I wait to sip my freshly prepared cafe mocha and eat my just warmed vegetable quiche.

Jennifer Butler Basile

Jennifer Butler Basile

It’s delicious.

All of it.

The flaky crust. The gooey egg. The sugary froth. The warm breeze.

The ability to notice such details as the vaguely distant whoosh of traffic. The inability to safeguard little people.

I can’t.

They’re not here.

I am alone.

Which, even though it was an acupuncture appointment I had this morning, was blessedly just what the doctor ordered.

I’m at the back-end of a weekend packed with emotionally-charged, mentally-draining conference work.

The Postpartum Progress Warrior Mom Conference.

Lest you get the wrong impression, I enjoyed this conference immensely.

I so looked forward to connecting with fellow survivors of postpartum mood and anxiety disorders (commonly lumped together and referred to as postpartum depression). I expected to commiserate and trade war stories. I expected to get amazing fuel and ammo for advocacy – a role into which I thought I’d fully transitioned.

I did not expect to be so completely enveloped by the emotions I thought I’d left behind.

All throughout the first day of workshops, panels, and speakers, I teared up and misted over when particularly poignant points were made. But I was good. While I still danced with depression and angled around anxiety on random occasions of my everyday life, my period of postpartum depression was done.

And then, on the second day of the conference, Annette Cycon of MotherWoman got up to talk. As she described what transpired after an inexplicable bout of rage during her two young daughters’ bath time, my grief bubbled up and out of my body.

“I went into my bedroom and curled into the fetal position on the floor. I held my head, rocked back and forth, and sobbed. I said, ‘It’s either homicide or suicide – and I can’t do either. I love myself too much. And I love them too much.’”

Hearing this raw account, I sobbed. My face contorted into the grimace of one silently choking back tears. My shoulders shook. I experienced this incredibly intimate moment of grief in the midst of a room full of mothers. I felt so incredibly alone and yet dreaded anyone noticing and reaching out to me.

And yet, I wasn’t embarrassed.

There was no need.

I was in a room full of women, mothers who, while their own grief/rage/depression/disappointment/detachment/love/mania/compulsion manifested itself differently, had all been at the bottom of their own deep, dark hole. They were all at various footholds on their way back up and out, or sliding down and scrambling for a hand to hold – to stop them – to stop the pain, the agony – to spark the love they needed to feel for themselves and their children.

I may not have expected to awaken the grief, guilt, shame, and pain I thought I’d left behind – and apparently only buried – but I also didn’t expect to find a tribe of mothers instantly and deeply connected by their shared experience. And that was such a life-giving and validating surprise.

Soon, I will have to leave my empty coffee cup and the flaky crumbs of quiche crust behind. Soon, I will have to stop pretending I am an unencumbered hipster who can write alfresco for hours. Soon, I will collect my children and return home to our ‘normal’ lives, our harried routine, my possibly high levels of anxiety and masked depression.

But there will be hugs around the neck and hearty belly laughs. And there will always, always be my tribe of warrior mamas who’ve got my back.


13 thoughts on “This Ain’t Any Ol’ Con

    • Jennifer Butler Basile says:

      How dare those neat and tidily tucked away things sneak out?! There’s always work to do, I suppose. Glad I’m not alone, though! Thank you for the love – and shooting some your way, too.


  1. In the MotherWoman session I was reminded of a forgotten promise to myself that I would wake up each day forgiving myself for the past and living the present.

    Beautiful post, but not nearly as beautiful as the woman who wrote it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Butler Basile says:

      That’s an impressive promise to oneself. I forget that ALL the time. Thank you for the important reminder. And your lovely words. Right back at ya, beauty!


  2. ppdisland says:

    Reading through that excerpt by Mother Woman, couldn’t help but tear, because that suicidal/homicidal vibe was me when my son was just three weeks old. Looking back, I wish I accessed such info earlier on in my PPD. which is what spurred me to start my blog.

    Thanks for the reminder that it is ok for those emotions to creep up when we think we are all well and sound…. and that it is ok to sob, because at the end of it, this army of warrior moms will remind us where we once stood.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I could not possibly love this more. I’m so blessed to have had some extra time with you in our close-knit circle and goodness, I love you, woman. My heart holds yours. xo

    Also? Dang, girl, you can WRITE. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Butler Basile says:

      ‘My heart holds yours’ – what a lovely thing to say and do. Thank you. That’s all we humans and mothers can ask for – and I know you got me. Bullseye, baby!

      Thank you, thank you, thank you.


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