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Brittney on postpartum anxiety and separating from her husband

Content warning: Discussion of postpartum depression, birth trauma, domestic abuse or other tough topics ahead. If you or someone you know is struggling with a postpartum mental health challenge, including postpartum depression or anxiety, call 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS (tel:18009435746)—The National Maternal Mental Health Hotline This free, confidential service provides access to trained counselors and resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in English, Spanish, and more than 60 other languages. They can offer support and information related to before, during, and after pregnancy.

When I sit down to write this and look back on the past year, I am in disbelief. I have severe postpartum anxiety as well as postpartum depression.

I looked in the mirror on March 10, put on my makeup and did my hair to put on a brave face for my son’s seventh birthday adventure. We planned a family day followed by an ice cream cake and presents. I went on Instagram and saw my husband’s post for our seven-year old’s birthday. I knew at that moment my husband gave up on me. He gave up on our marriage. 

He wrote the words, “No matter what, I will love you.” I started to cry even though I didn’t have time. I needed to go get my youngest ready for the outing. Throughout the entire day, the elephant was in the room. I knew I needed to put a smile on for the kids when on the inside I was praying that what I read was a bad dream. 

That evening my life was changed forever. Needless to say, the next morning I made an appointment to get some help. My husband of seven years no longer loved me and wanted the kids and me to leave. 

I sat in the doctor’s office which felt like forever. I sat there and the whole time I was thinking, “Be strong. Don’t cry.” But, when the doctor came in, I broke down. She brought in a therapist and I spilled every emotion I felt for the past two years. 

Related: Therapy made me a better mom—and wife

I confessed that I didn’t want to sleep in the same bed as my husband because I would not hear the baby. The baby always had to be clean because If she got sick, I was to blame. I confessed I didn’t care where or what my husband was doing because my kids replaced him. I confessed no one could love my kids like I could. I confessed I put on a happy face every day, only to fall asleep praying I would be healed in the morning. 

Three hours later I left with all my mascara washed away, green eyes (they lighten when I cry), and a large brown bag with medications to help me get through the next few weeks. 

I currently sit 1500 miles away from my husband. We are legally separated. My family took us in, no questions asked. I take my Paxil and on the harder days, my Klonopin. I see a therapist once a week. My oldest loves his new school and my youngest started preschool. 

There is hope. I can do this. I am strong for myself and I want my kids to know you can always get help. It’s been a very long time, but I have hope, I have a mission. I wake up and don’t fake it.