My own untold story is a huge part of the reason I am a postpartum doula.
I've had three unique postpartum experiences, but it was my first one that really surprised me. I thought I was so well prepared... I had a literal decade of nannying under my belt, I was reading What to Expect in The First Year (which I found so boring because of my experience with newborns a nanny for a decade plus, "Doesn't everyone know this stuff" Would have been my review at the time!). Was I in for a shock!
It snuck in the moment we exited the hospital. The first dose of fresh air as a newborn mother was both life giving and terrifying.
I felt as though I suddenly was swallowing fear with every inhale and for some reason, the exhale wasn't releasing it. IT was postpartum anxiety, and the worst part was I didn't have a name for it. It would be 3 years till I knew what IT was.
I passed my mental health screening since my provider was only screening for depression (even today, most still only screen for Postpartum Depression and not the full range of other mood and anxiety disorders). I lived inside this untold, unspoken place for 9 months, with scary intrusive thoughts and obsession over my meticulously packed diaper bag, among other things. Even when IT lifted, it took another 2.5 years to be able to see and name IT for what is really was.
After the birth of my second child, my cousin visited and noted, "You're okay this time!". She said it like it was so obvious, and just like that I saw IT clearly, a Postpartum Anxiety with a side dish of OCD. It invaded my newborn mother-self. IT was untreated and thankfully left me as my family crossed moved out of hour small apartment at 9 months postpartum . I left IT our old home.
With each birth IT was easier to deal with. I learned about Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders, how to acknowledge the intrusive thoughts as just that, intrusive. Even just having a name for IT was helpful, knowing that IT was passing through and that by sharing my untold story IT would loose it's gripping power.
It is easy for me to draw the line between my own experiences postpartum to the work I do today. But I can see how my collection of life experiences, not just the ones with mental health are so woven into the fabric of my path.