Breathe In...Breathe Out

The lights are off and the LED candles lit the 107 degree room. 

“Breathe in...Breathe out.”

Wednesday evening hot yoga class is my favorite. It’s a slow/relaxing flow where not much is expected out of me. I get to listen to music by James Taylor, Jack Johnson, and so many other of my favorite acoustic musicians. 

I started going to hot yoga when my baby was about 4 months old. My therapist had been telling me over and over how yoga can help someone with anxiety and depression. I’d just been avoiding it because my post-baby body was far from perfect, and the idea of wearing skin tight yoga clothes made me want to cry in itself. Once I started going, though, I found no one has time to judge me, everyone is in their own zone. Everyone is trying to clear their heads of something. Myself included. 

I have had anxiety and major depression for years, and the welcoming of my beautiful baby girl wreaked havoc on what progress I had made. I remember one night, waking my husband up during a feeding, with tears streaming down my face, asking him to please take over because I was afraid I’d shake her if she didn’t stop crying. He quickly got up hugged me, and took over. I lay in bed sobbing, hoping his attempts to calm her would do the same for me. 

After that, we decided it was time for me to go back to therapy and back on some higher medication. The yoga came not long after. 

The reason I remember this particular Wednesday class though, was because about 5 months into regular practice, 5 months on a higher dose of anti-depressant, I was stretched out in child’s pose, and a thought crossed my mind…

I can understand why women with postpartum depression kill themselves, it would be so much easier. Just quietly slip away. Eva would be too young to remember, she’d only know me by pictures of the past, the smiles for the cameras.

Through all my depression and anxiety, this was the first time I had such a realistic thought of suicide. This was not a fleeting thought, this one came from my heart. It felt…right. It felt like by doing this, I’d be saving my daughter from something, not taking away from her. 

I came home from yoga that night and made an appointment with my therapist.

At my session, I didn’t tell my therapist what I had thought, I was too embarrassed. I was too ashamed of how far I had gone into the depression. I had mommy guilt on top of the depression. She’s good at what she does though and eventually I broke. I told her everything. She validated my feelings and we agreed it was time for me to get a little more help. 

That thought hasn’t crossed my mind since that day, but the memory rests firmly in my brain. It’s this little shadow that follows me. I have to fight it daily, I have to fight for my life, I have to fight for my daughter’s right to a happy healthy mom. Every day, I choose to fight. 

Motherhood isn’t easy. It seems no matter how hard I try I am doing something wrong, whether it is not giving it my all to my job, my marriage, or my kid. It’s overwhelming and it’s scary. There is help though, and I rely on it, my life depends on it. 

Sometimes, motherhood can feel like a losing battle, and in those quiet moments I think every mom has visions of herself running away to a tropical island and starting over as a bartender somewhere. Usually though, one big toothless smile from your baby will flash you right back to reality and your heart will fill with so much joy. If you can’t find the joy, though, if the visions aren’t fleeting, getting help is your best option. Avoid the temptation to do it alone, there is a reason they say “it takes a village.” 

*****

About the Author: Ashley Ziegler is a full time working mom in Raleigh, NC. When she's not working, she's writing, going to yoga, and spending time with her daughter and husband. She tries to live her life by Ben & Jerry's motto of "if it's not fun, why do it?"