How the story began
I’m Tilda Timmers, 38 years old and living in Amersfoort, The Netherlands. Together with my husband Tim and our two daughters, Livia (6) and Emmi (2). I am a therapist for mothers specialized in postpartum depression and experience expert in this area. I’m also a writer and blogger. You can find me on Instagram @thisispostpartum or the Dutch one @geenrozewolk, which means not on cloud nine.
Almost five years ago I was in the middle of my postnatal depression. I was in a sink hole so deep, I didn’t think I would ever recover. I got sucked into my depression more and more and I felt so alone. I wondered: am I the only mom who feels this way after giving birth? The answer turned out to be: NO! After I made the first steps towards recovery I started talking to a therapist. After a couple of sessions, my head cleared up again. I saw that I was not alone in all of this. I learned that many mothers are not on cloud nine after child birth.
Sharing is caring
I wanted to share that feeling with other mothers. If I felt so lonely and isolated. I thought to myself, there are probably a lot more mothers sitting at home with their brand new baby also feeling like this. I decided to write a blog about my postpartum depression, for these other mums who were also not feeling well after giving birth. So they would feel less alone and find some support. This blog went viral and before I knew it, it was on various Dutch media outlets. I received an incredible amount of responses. To this day, I am deeply grateful that I dared to take this step at the time. Because, I was so frightened to post this blog at the time. This is how it all started. And how the path to my work with mothers with PPD slowly but steadily unfolded. I am beyond grateful for the work that I am allowed to do today as a therapist and for my upcoming book “This is Post Partum” that will be released next June in New York. I feel so blessed that I can also share my story with other mothers and fathers. Here you can read my very first blog. I can’t believe this was almost six years ago:
Shall I do it or not?
I have doubted so long about publishing this blog. Am I going to write it or not? Eventually I decided to write it anyway. Maybe I can help at least one new mother, who is also scared to speak her mom truth. A mother who is also insecure about motherhood and if she can pull it off.
I never thought it would come to this, that I would go through a rough patch or that I would lose myself like this. When my beloved grandmother died when I was 22 weeks pregnant, I thought about the consequences. I was afraid that I would continue to feel really sad, I even used the term postnatal depression way before my delivery. Is it self-fulfilling prophecy? Or is it just bad luck? Or both? I don’t know and I probably never will. But the fact is, I have a postpartum depression. Saying this out loud remains difficult and now that I read these words black on white on my screen, I immediately get another lump in my throat.
My Livia, my cute, lovely baby girl. She is the light in our lives and the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me. She fills me with love and a mind blowing feeling of happiness and joy when she looks at me. Let alone when she smiles at me, then the sky breaks open and I can hear the angels sing.
Everything else was black. Pitch-black. Hours of crying, an enormous list of uncertainties, the fear of accidentally hurting my baby. The list was endless. I denied it, tucked it away and laughed it away. The people who know me well, also know how well I can pretend that nothing is wrong. I’m the best actress I’ve ever known. The more jokes I make, the more you have to watch me carefully. I hide everything with my smile. And then suddenly the curtain fell. The comedian was done playing her performance. I couldn’t do it anymore.
Admitting something is wrong, was the first step. Saying “I don’t feel happy at all. And I’m most certainly not on cloud nine.” But that’s how it is supposed to be, right? You should be happy and grateful when you’ve become a mother. You can’t complain or say that it’s so incredibly hard to be a mother. But that’s the truth! Motherhood is freaking intense ,people! Let’s not forget about the hormones that made me into a raging b****, the lack of sleep and that massive feeling of responsibility you feel as a parent. Sometimes I closed the bedroom door and said, “I’m not here.” I would put my phone on silent mode, wear earplugs and just sleep. I didn’t want to feel what I actually felt. Because, that was pretty black, I can tell you. It was the darkest page of my book called life.
The grieve over losing my grandmother added a huge amount of sadness to all of the above and eventually I drowned. I pedaled as hard as I could, but I slowly drowned. People don’t prepare you for this. Because believe it or not, despite the books that thus far have been written about it, there is a huge taboo on this subject. While once I had said it out in the open, so many women appear to be bothered by it! There are even talk groups for new-born mums with depression.
Thankful for my inner circle
I am grateful and extremely blessed with such a sweet and easy baby. I feel myself filled with love when I look at her. Hopefully, I will start to feel happy again as well. There have been days when I couldn’t handle it anymore and I honestly wanted to quit on life. I can’t look beyond the next hour or the hour after that. Thank goodness for my sweet, dearest husband and our wonderful friends who kept me going. This amazing group of people do everything to help me out and get me back on my feet again. You come towards crossroads in your life where it becomes clear who are your true friends are and which ones you should say goodbye to. The people who shouted the loudest before I gave birth: “I’m here to help you, I‘ll come over and look after the baby, do some shopping, etc.” I haven’t seen or talked to them since my baby was born. But my inner circle, the people who don’t need to say this all the time, they were just there for us. They gave us unconditional love, support and friendship. They just did that without any fuss. They arrive with casseroles, come to babysit when you have to go to therapy, do grocery shopping for you and listen to you on the phone for hours while the only thing I could do was cry. I am not an easy person right now and sometimes not so friendly either. I don’t want to hide behind my depression, but it is what it is.
A major shout out for my lovely family and friends that have supported us. You have no idea how happy and thankful I am that I am surrounded by so much love. I will get there, but not nearly as fast as I would like. Now that I know that I am not alone in this and dare to express my true feelings and thoughts, I feel liberated. I no longer feel lonely sitting on this deserted island of misery. The future calls, one baby step at the time.
It is still unreal to read this back, Knowing what all has happened after this blog was published. All these positive and beautiful moments that I have experienced as a therapist and author. I can’t believe my book is being translated and published in English next June. Sometimes it feels like a dream. I now have my own practice (www.froufroubegeleiding.nl) and I help countless mothers and fathers who are not feeling well after giving birth. I also visit these parents at their homes to help them in this difficult situation. This blog is how it all once started and it makes me enormously proud to read it back.