I'll piss some people off, but I'm at peace.

“You need to be a researcher talking about postpartum depression, not a woman who has suffered from postpartum depression talking about postpartum depression.”

I don’t talk about “what I do” very often. Especially here. What you might not know from my blog posts or my instagram feed is that I am in the midst of writing my dissertation, on my way to earning a PhD in Research, Educational Measurement and Psychometrics. I made it (successfully!) through the first hurdle this past week: the proposal defense. And the commentary from the committee that was relayed to me afterward was that I need to change my angle. I speak too subjectively. My tone is of a woman who has been there, who is still there. I need to be a researcher reporting on an area of interest. I need to be objective.

“You need to be a researcher talking about postpartum depression, not a woman who has suffered from postpartum depression talking about postpartum depression.”

Today, I let go. I breathe. I inhale the scent of my soothing body wash because I actually had the courage to shower after my kids went to bed. I exhale the woman who has been committed to suffering because she thought she had to be “in it”. I feel the most joyful sense of calm deep in my soul. I close my eyes and see sunlight beaming from my body.

My son will be three in November and my daughter is fifteen months old. For three years I have assigned the term “postpartum” or “pregnant” to my body and my mental state. I have given myself permission to assign these terms because they are temporary and they are, in a way, done TO me, not done BY me. I have given up ownership of my body and my mind and have suffered dearly. And then I held that suffering as my identity. Who am I? I am a woman with postpartum depression. I don’t take care of my body, inside or out, because I must suffer. It is my identity. Oh how foolish I have been.

Tonight feels different. Tonight, I am not afraid of that dark. I am not hiding. I am not paranoid of losing sleep. I am not shutting down once my children are in bed because they are the only part of me that is not postpartum depression. I am releasing the label. I am not a woman who has suffered from postpartum depression talking about postpartum depression. It’s time to let that go. To free myself. I am a researcher talking about postpartum depression. I am a woman. Full stop. I am a phenomenal mother who enriches the lives of her children every day, an exceptional wife who finds joy in the short moments with her busy husband, a fiercely motivated student pursuing the highest level of education possible. Songs by Lord Huron move me deep in my soul, enchiladas make me weak in the knees, that first sip of hot coffee in the morning starts my heart every day, and—you know—I think I’d like to start taking a group fitness class. And showering daily. And buying clothes that actually fit.

I had no idea how to leave the suffering. All I knew for so long was having a baby in my belly or on my hip. All I had was half a brain and a life that was spiraling out of control. And I was afraid to let it go because I had no idea what would be on the other side. It’s time to wash my hands of it. To stop playing the same cards over and over again. To put on REAL pants and not the leggings I wore when I was pregnant.

I have found peace. In letting go. In choosing to believe that what happened for a short season of life will not define the next step I take. So from here, I stop sharing my story. Because it’s not mine anymore. It’s time to move on.