Sunday, March 20, 2016

saying YES to imposter syndrome! wait, no...

[Update: Here's the link, and also why do I blink so much?]

I'm trying to say yes lately.

My sister told me around New Year's that she was starting a "year of yes," à la Oprah's Super Soul Sunday. I made fun of her a little bit, joking that I was going to ask her to babysit Rowan for a month or scrub my shower every week, and she'd have to say yes! IT'S HER YEAR OF YES, DAMMIT!

But I got the point. I say no to stuff all the time - sometimes for totally valid reasons like not having time or not wanting to put on pants. Often, though, I say no because I'm scared. I feel not brave enough or not smart enough or not experienced enough. And it's holding me back. I'm in a super weird space in my life right now, trying to forge new career path(s), and this is so not the time to hold myself back. This is the time to break through, to open up, to do the scary thing. To say yes.

So when Dr. Lisa Hammer contacted me to ask if I'd be willing to appear on a local news show with her, I responded with a YES before I even had time to think about it. Dr. Hammer is a pediatrician and breastfeeding specialist, and she was the one who first suggested to me that I might have postpartum anxiety. (She also just opened up a new integrated medical practice for moms and babies - very cool concept.) She and I met up to talk about my postpartum experience after my Scary Mommy article came out, and she thought I'd like to participate in the interview, which would focus on postpartum mood disorders. So, two weeks after Dr. Hammer contacted me, I found myself on the second floor of a wellness center in downtown Detroit, with a makeup lady powdering my nose. (They mentioned that someone would come by to powder our noses, which I thought was a euphemism for forcing makeup onto my face. Nope, she literally dusted some powder over my nose and forehead and moved on.)

The weird - shocking - thing was, I wasn't really nervous. We didn't rehearse any questions or answers ahead of time, so I didn't know what their angle would be or what they might ask me. Luckily, the hosts were super chill and easy to talk to, so the whole thing felt natural. Plus, J.J. was there for moral support, which helped a ton. Aaaaand then the crew were chatting with him and decided he needed to be interviewed, too, which was awesome. (That's also why he was wearing jeans and a wrinkled shirt. Whatever, he still looked hot.)

Fast-forward to today, when the show actually aired. I won't lie, I was WAY more nervous to watch the show than I was to tape it. I was terrified that I'd look ridiculous or say something ridiculous, and that my shame would live on eternally in YouTube infamy. 

Mostly, though, I had a rampant case of imposter syndrome. Despite having been officially diagnosed with postpartum anxiety, I still get the impression that people look at me and scoff, "You were totally fine when I saw you with the new baby. Don't exaggerate," or, "Whatever, I went through some postpartum shit, too. Everyone does. It's not that big a deal." And then I have to stop myself. Because you know what? Dismissing my own experience is just as bad as dismissing someone else's, which I would never purposefully do. Believe someone when they say they're hurting. Also, that diminishes the hard work that so many advocates have done to spread awareness about postpartum mood disorders. A bunch of the comments on my Scary Mommy article about postpartum anxiety were along the lines of, "Oh my god, this is me. I have this. I didn't even know it existed." And I remember what a relief it was when I discovered that's what I was experiencing, and that it could and would get better.

So I'm thrilled that I said yes, that I participated, and that I didn't inadvertently make a fool out of myself. They edited out some awkward parts (phew), along with some witty repartee and very sage advice from me (uh, not actually), and in the end, maybe it'll help even one person out there realize what's going on in her own life or a friend's life, and she'll get support. It's out there, it works, and then? It gets better.

SO much better.

The segment will be posted on YouTube tomorrow, so I'll update here with the link. In the meantime, here's a Fuzzy McBlurry shot of J.J. and me with the show's hosts:

Could you use support with anxiety or depression during your pregnancy or postpartum time? Trust me, you're not alone. Contact your OB and tell her/him you need the phone number of someone specializing in mood disorders. Have your partner or a friend make the initial call if you can't do it at the moment. Because, dude. You deserve to enjoy this time, and you can, and you will. 

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