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The Gift of a Scar

When I think of a scar, I usually think about a mark on my body that was caused by an injury. I have a scar on one of my knuckles; the result of a run in with a window screen. I have another scar on the back of my head, hidden by my hair, the result of me falling off the top of the bleachers at a baseball game when I was 2. Scars are usually accompanied by memories, some of them traumatic, but mostly insignificant. When I read this statement though, “Your scar is proof of your brave”, I don’t think about my physical scars. I think about my mental and emotional scars; the result of a run in with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.

Actually, “run over” is a better way to describe my experience.

“Your scar is proof of your brave.”

My Postpartum Depression and Anxiety took many things from me over the last 5 years. In the beginning, when I had a newborn and two toddlers at home with me, it tried very hard to take my sanity. And, it came very, very close. Back then, PPD/A consistently took away my self-confidence, my endurance, my sleep, my time with my family, my sense of worth and my hope. It caused so much suffering in my body and mind, I ended up in the psychiatric unit of the hospital. My body was in crisis and I had open wounds. The scars that followed are proof of what it gave to me.

After two years of meds, doctor appointments, therapy, anxiety attacks, scattered sleep, awful medication side effects, pages and pages of journal entries and buckets of tears, I started to form my scars.

“Your scar is proof of your brave.”

You rarely notice the healing while it’s happening. Healing is painful and painfully slow. But, one day, you wake up and realize you actually slept peacefully for 6 hours straight. You were able to get through a whole day with three kids under 5 without retreating to your bedroom to recover from an anxiety attack. You actually want to get out of bed and interact with your family. You are happy more than you are sad.

You learn that healing is not linear. You have three good days and then two bad days. You have two good weeks and then a week of hell. The bad days trigger your memories of the really bad days and your body tells you that the feelings are the same. But, they are not the same. You will never be as low as you once were. Your pain will never be the same. Your scars have made you stronger, not weaker, and you.are.brave.

My scars have changed me. They have changed the way I see myself and the way I see and interact with the world. PPD/A was the worst and best experience of my life and I do not say that lightly. It took so many things from me in the moment, but it gave me so many more that will be with me forever. My scars will not disappear. They can’t disappear.

My PPD/A gave me a new perspective on suffering. It gave me more compassion, more empathy, more understanding. I am a different parent now. I have more patience, more humor and more time for my children. There are no more hours in the day, but there is more space in my life. Space for self care. Space for play. Space for being still.

“Your scar is proof of your brave.”

Don’t label your scars as weakness. You have earned your scars. Your scars make you the person you are today. And, guess what? You are not the only person with scars. Everyone has scars and some people even have scars that look like yours.

You cannot keep moving forward if you do not stop and acknowledge your scars. If you try to ignore them, you will stumble and fall. If you try to hide them, you will never meet others who have known your pain. Only when you acknowledge your scars and where they are and how they feel, will you be able to move forward on the path meant for you. The path where your purpose is revealed. The path where your bravery leads others to acknowledge their scars.

Name your scars.

Own your brave.

Start your journey.

Maybe, I’ll see you on the path. :)

“Your scar is proof of your brave.”

Blessings, Celeste

Print and quote by Ann Voskamp

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