My PPD Mantra
By: Stephanie Gallagher

Twitter: @powerpostpartum

It’s a frightening thing when your brain decides to go rogue. One moment you are a “normal,” functioning human being and the next your mind is buzzing furiously with thoughts so foreign you don’t know whether to scream, pass out, or throw up. I can recall standing in my bedroom one morning trying so hard to just pick out some clothes to wear and I was literally dizzy with the whirling and whooshing of the uncontrollable, unnerving, unstoppable notions in my head.

One horrible thought, “Did you turn off the stove? The house is going to burn down,” led to another, “You are going crazy and someone is going to take your kids away,” then another, “This is it, this is how you are going to feel forever.” It was an endless carousel filled with murderous clowns and wild horses gnashing their teeth.

The longer I allowed the carousel to go around, the more I was convinced I was headed to the loony bin with no possibility of parole. You may feel like you are going crazy, but you’re not. The fact that you think you are means you’re not. Crazy people don’t think they are crazy, they think their thoughts and behavior are rational. The electrical misfires in your brain are caused by circumstances beyond your control.

Depression and anxiety often go hand-in-hand, but most likely one will precede the other. I experienced anxiety well before I acknowledged a depression element to my condition. The anxiety was so out of control that I eventually depleted any coping mechanism I had and was left with just a hollow shell of myself to slowly refill.

Intrusive thoughts are exactly that, intruders in your head aimed at playing off your every fear and vulnerability. One thing I found particularly beneficial was establishing a mantra. By repeating something you have predetermined in your head, you may be able to quiet the more aggressive offenders.

My personal mantra during this time was, “I believe in God’s plan for me.” I had to believe there was a reason for all this pain and uncertainty. Every time I would start to feel the bad thoughts creeping in, I would repeat this, until finally, I started to believe it. I know now that this experience has made me stronger, kinder and more self-aware, and hopefully in a place to help and guide others.

Other great mantras are:
• I choose Love over Fear.
• Everything is Temporary, even this.
• I am Stronger than I seem. (Based on the A.A. Milne quote)

I resisted subscribing to the ‘fake it til you make it’ ideal. I didn’t want to pretend this wasn’t happening. I felt the constant urge to shout it from the rooftops. But guess what? You aren’t faking it. Most likely, before this happened you always chose love over fear and believed in yourself. Find your own personal mantra and feel it’s power. Whether you speak it aloud or repeat it as a round robin in your head, use it to reassure yourself that are going to pass this test with flying colors and you will.