A few days ago I was looking through an old journal and came across an entry from about a month after my daughter was born.
“Who I am lies dormant in words that are packed away beneath stacks of notebooks. I am forgotten, unknown poems, unable to bring them back to life inside of me. If anyone should ask where I am, this is where I’d tell them to look.”
I had forgotten just how much postpartum depression steals your identity from you. It is the truest form of real, actual identity theft. Some women get it back after a month, a few months, a year. I didn’t begin to start feeling like myself again for three years. And even then, there were parts of my self that never came back. I lost so much.
After reading this journal entry, remembering, pondering, I realized what a good place I’m in right now. I know who I am again. I have a sense of self, and I can be that self. And I like who I am. I feel strong, confident, independent, though able to admit when I need help and ask for it, and I’m happy. Life isn’t without its struggles, and sometimes I get down, feel disappointed, am sad. But I am still me, and that is one of the biggest reasons I’m able to get through those hard times without letting them consume me.
Strong. Brave. Fighter. Cause. Motivated. Winner. Inspired. Inspiring. These are all words I thought of in association with the word warrior. I haven’t felt like any of those words recently, though. I’ve been more depressed than usual this last week. Why? Because of everything and because of nothing. Such is the nature of depression. I’ve been tired and unmotivated. I haven’t been exercising enough or keeping to any of the goals (which aren’t many) that I have for myself.
The reason I was thinking of this is because a friend gave me a word necklace. Warrior was the word. And I haven’t felt like a warrior. Then I looked up the definition. Merriam-Webster defines warrior as: a person engaged or experienced in warfare; broadly : a person engaged in some struggle or conflict. Now I can say I am a warrior! I have a lot of experience in this war of mental illness. Mental illness is one of the greatest struggles and conflicts I have been through. It’s a daily war, a daily struggle.
The definition doesn’t say a warrior is strong or brave. It doesn’t say they are motivated one hundred percent of the time or that they always inspire others. I’m sure there are a lot of warriors in this world that no one knows about. But we think of warriors as brave, strong, etc. Knowing my friend thought of me when she saw the necklace inspired me. It’s simple gestures and thoughts like that that motivate and inspire me to be strong again. To fight. To keep going. Yesterday, I opened my door to the garage (which had been left open) to discover an envelope with some cash in it. A couple of weeks ago, someone anonymously left a box of groceries on my doorstep. It’s so humbling to know that people are thinking me, helping me while times are tough. This also motivates and inspires me. It makes me want to work hard so one day I can be that person helping others. All I can do right now is write, share. It seems so insignificant compared to what others have done for me. One day, I’ll do more. One day, I’ll be more. But for now, this is enough. For now, I am enough. I am a warrior.