When I first started talking about my battle with postpartum anxiety, people always responded with, “but you always look so happy.” Or, my personal favorite, “you never look depressed.” That is because us moms tend to get really good at hiding behind the smile.
I’ve always been a bubbly person. It’s just my nature. Even when shit is literally hitting the fan, I can usually find something to giggle about. That is exactly how I handled my postpartum anxiety. I just smiled through it.
Laughter is the best medicine, right? Well, that’s not always the case. When we use laughter, jokes, smiles, etc. to hide our true emotions, the consequences can be drastic. Look at all the celebrities that seem to be living life to the fullest and then commit suicide without any known precursor.
We are only human.
It’s human nature. We don’t want to be “sick.” If we can hide our illness, most of us will do it any way we can. This is especially harmful for mental health disorders. If no one else knows what your going through, they can’t help you. If it’s never talked about, future generations will be less likely to seek the help that they need.
I hid behind my smile for a long time, and I still find myself hiding. We want to be happy, but we can’t “fake it til we make it” with our mental health.
Don’t be afraid of your emotions. Embrace them. Challenge them. Lean into them with everything you can.
We don’t need to hide behind our smiles, because emotions are powerful. They are what make us human, after all. We need to feel all the feels, so to speak.
You see, when we start feeling better and the dust all settles, we need to know how we got through it so that we can help our fellow humans. The “tough it out” mentality does not have a place in perinatal mental health.