This is the house where I lost myself. Eighteen years ago, that little bungalow felt palatial to us, and Brad and I were thrilled to put our stamp on our first real home.

It would become the house where we’d start a family, and we were so excited to meet our little one. Everyone said it would be wonderful. But they were wrong. Turns out some births are awful, some babies don’t fare well, some mamas go through such unexpected turmoil that they go home a different person.

People didn’t talk much about those things back then — certainly not before a baby’s birth, and very rarely after. When I finally told my postpartum nurse that I couldn’t stop crying, she told me to just read some parenting magazines. So I felt incredibly alone and ashamed — lost inside that home as my hubby went to work, terrified of my new life with a baby boy I didn’t feel capable of raising.

I held us both hostage behind that green door, scared to go anywhere, sure the world would break us both. I pushed everyone away. I barely ate. I barely slept. I thought my whirring breast pump was talking to me. For real.

Thank God for a husband and parents who noticed. Thank God for a boss who told me about her own postpartum depression. Thank God for the research that was just emerging around birth trauma and postnatal PTSD. Thank God for the therapist who led me to the psychiatrist who got me the medicine that made me strong enough to do the work of healing, unfurling and blooming again.

When we left this home 13 years ago, with a sweet toddler holding our hands, it felt like as I walked out that door, I was coming back home to me. Like I’d also given birth to myself in that house, and was finally ready to be back in the world.

All these years later, I am so grateful for the ways that difficult journey and the people who loved me and the people who helped me and those walls that protected me all played a part in me becoming me. This is the house I got lost in. And also the house where I found my way out.

(For more about my journey and resources for those facing postpartum challenges, click here. You are not alone, dear heart.)