You are not crazy. I hear it from you all the time, at my Eastham group, or at your homes: "I just worry so much; I'm so crazy!", "I'm just being crazy", "I must be crazy". And a thousand other, more oblique ways of saying it. And I get it; sometimes it seems like that might be the only explanation that makes sense for the way you are feeling. Sometimes it's easier and more natural to just dismiss what's going on by thinking it's a problem with you and not the situation you're in.
But I want to talk about this phrase. I want to talk about how often we say a woman is 'just being crazy'. It's important to know that mental health is never a given for new parents, or for seasoned parents, for that matter. Motherhood can literally make you crazy. So please, don't discount your worries, your lack of sleep, the importance of your actual, real mental health. If you are genuinely struggling, if you are concerned that you might have a real postpartum mood disorder, please get help. If you feel like you need some measure of whether you need help or not, you can take a brief screening here. And then call your care provider. Dismissing your issues does not help to resolve them.
Another thing to unpack with this issue is the fact that we live in a culture where women are routinely called 'crazy' for doing totally normal things. It seems to be one of our culture's favorite ways to dismiss women who do anything that makes us (men or women) uncomfortable. We should not be calling other women crazy for worrying, for crying, for doing anything at all. Maybe instead, we could ask how they're doing and then just listen? Holding space for another person is an incredibly powerful act of support. Dismissing a woman's behavior (and I'm sure it happens to men, too, but it's ridiculously common with women) by calling them 'crazy' is not only supremely unhelpful, it's also a total dick move. (Ever heard of gaslighting?) So we really need to stop doing this.
Parents, please stop thinking that you're crazy for worrying about your baby. This is actually a huge, important part of your job now that you are responsible for a tiny human (or a few tiny humans). We live in a culture where the overriding message we get about parenting is that however much you're panicking, it's not enough. So of course you're worried. And of course you're worrying about at least some things you probably don't need to worry about. But it's nigh on impossible to weed through all the messages of fear that are coming at us and figure out what things we should actually be watchful for. So keep asking your questions, keep seeking answers, and above all: trust yourself. In a world that constantly tells you that you are inadequate unless you buy this thing, trusting your instincts is a revolutionary act. And also, get good information. Ask people whose opinions and sources you trust. Use reputable web sources (i.e., please check into things you find on google). Talk to local birth and parenting professionals: if you are on Cape Cod, the South Shore, or in Boston, we are here for you.
So please, mamas: remember that you're not crazy. You're doing your best in a world that wants to make things difficult for you. You're caring for your small person in the best way you can. And if you feel overwhelmed with your worries, please please please reach out for some help. This job is hard, and none of us should do it in isolation. #SisterUp.
Peace, love, and support,
Liz Libby is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, a Certified Lactation Counselor, and a CAPPA-certified childbirth educator. She lives in Brewster with her three wild boys, canine sidekick, and her partner. Find her at firstname.lastname@example.org.