How the Maker Community Helped Me overcome Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression- What Happens When You Find Your Tribe

When I looked at myself in the mirror, I was disgusted. Everything was loose, everything was in the wrong place, my face looked like one giant pimple and I thought to myself, this is just my life now.

Postpartum Depression was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. What made it worse is, I had no idea I had Postpartum Depression (PPD), so I went untreated. It lasted over 2 years.

This post has been weighing on my heart for a while now. I slowly started talking about my PPD over on Instagram and got a lot of positive feedback from other women who have experienced it. I thought since May is Mental Health Month, now would be the perfect time to finally put my story out into the world.

So here we go.

My husband, Gabe, and I moved to Alabama, from Kentucky, in 2014. Gabe got an awesome new job, working as an engineer for Honda and I was excited for the change of scenery. The plan was to live there for 5 years, get good work experience, then move back to Kentucky.

Less than a year after being in Alabama, Gabe and I became pregnant with Ava. My pregnancy was pretty easy, I didn’t have any health complications and Ava was born a healthy 9 pound 8 oz baby girl, in April 2015.

Postpartum Depression- What Happens When You Find Your Tribe

I did have to have a c-section though because she was just too big for my 4’9″ body, but we’ll save that fun story for another post.

We bring our beautiful baby girl home, I have chosen to nurse her and everything went off without a hitch.

Postpartum Depression- What Happens When You Find Your Tribe
This was me on my very first Mother’s Day as a new mom- 5-10-15

About 6 months in, I had gained nearly 20 lbs. I was heavier at 6 months postpartum than I was at 9 months pregnant, with a 9lb baby.

Postpartum Depression- What Happens When You Find Your Tribe
This was us on Ava’s first Halloween 10-31-15

Breastfeeding made me SO HUNGRY and I ate everything I could get my hands on. I really started to genuinely hate myself around October 2015.

Side note- breastfeeding can also make your hormones stay crazy, and mine are the actual devil.

I remember thinking, “well, this is my life now.”

I didn’t know how to dress my new 140 lb mom-bod, because I had always been little most of my life. I didn’t know what type of clothes would look flattering, so I just lived in maternity leggings and baggy t-shirts for over a year after having Ava.

I hated clothes, shopping, jewelry, even shoes didn’t fit right because my feet grew after having Ava.

To make things worse, I was in a new state, away from the friends and family I had grown up with, and I was a stay-at-home-mom, so my days were super secluded.

I did have a handful of amazing humans in my life, and I am so thankful for them every day, but they were still fairly new relationships, and I didn’t feel comfortable baring my whole heart to someone I had just met, less than a year ago.

I remember avoiding the mirror aisle whenever we would go to Hobby Lobby, I did NOT want to see myself from all those angles, all at once. I remember seeing my dear friend back in KY, on Facebook, (she just had a baby 3 months after me), she was looking so skinny and I literally balled my eyes out in the drive-through at Chick-Fil-A because I was the “fattest mom in the world.

So this was my new normal, hating everything about myself, crying any time a song about girl power or self-love came on and feeling ugly-as-sin 24/7.

I also saw the toll it took on Gabe to see me hate myself so much. It wasn’t good for him, and it wasn’t good for our marriage.

Gabe and I talked about it for a long time, and we decided moving back to Kentucky would be the right thing to do, so Ava could grow up around her family.

Gabe got another job, in the town I grew up in, and we picked up and moved back to Kentucky.

I thought “ok this is great”, I will be around family and can easily ask for help with Ava if I need it, plus I started reconnecting with a group of girls from high school and things were really starting to look up.

This was about the time I started to really focus on A Crafty Concept. I finally took the leap and opened my Etsy shop in June 2016 and started making friends in the maker community over on Instagram.

My first friend was Tana, and I actually “insta-met” her while we were still living in a hotel. She and I bonded really quickly over crochet. She had twin boys that were just a little older than Ava, and we would talk about mom life, social life, and crochet business! I truly appreciated Tana. She encouraged me to open my Etsy shop and basically walked me through the whole process.

I was really thankful to have her because it turns out my friendship with the group of girls from high school kinda fell through. Apparently, I had turned super weird since becoming a stay-at-home-mom (and secretly struggling with PPD), they removed me from their text messaging group (without telling me why or what I did wrong), and I was so frustrated at how bad it hurt me. I kept thinking, “why do I even care? We don’t have anything in common, we live completely different lifestyles.” But I still couldn’t shake how bad it made me feel, which in return made me hate myself even more- because I didn’t want to care!

And then literally everything changed in summer 2017. I started sharing my crochet designs with the world and listed my very first crochet pattern, the Claire Bun Beanie.

This introduced me to the crochet community on Instagram. I was “Insta-meeting” other crocheters, makers, mompreneurs and business women and my whole world started to look brighter.

After I released my first crochet pattern, it did really well! I started selling them left and right, which in return, encouraged me to make more crochet patterns available.

With each new pattern, I made a handful of new friends. I was encouraged DAILY by these women, they lifted me up with their positivity, love and enthusiasm for my designs and it gave me a whole new focus.

I truly believe the love and kindness from the maker community were what I needed to be pulled out of my PPD. When I hated everything about myself, I had all these people complimenting me every day and I think my heart just really needed to hear that I wasn’t disgusting. Even though my issues were mainly with my appearance, the positivity coming from my crochet business seemed to fill the hole.

I remember thinking that summer, for the first time, “ok, this isn’t my new normal. This is just me now. I may not always look like this, but this is how I look now, and that’s ok.” From that moment I refused to let my physical appearance dictate my mood, or how I spent time with my family.

Postpartum Depression- What Happens When You Find Your Tribe

That August, we went to Florida for vacation and I wore and bikini and everything! I did NOT care what I looked like or what people might have been thinking about what I looked like (turns out literally no one cared as much as I thought they did lol). I only cared about being happy for my family and raising my daughter with a positive role model.

Postpartum Depression- What Happens When You Find Your Tribe

I even came to terms with the girls from high school removing me from the text message group, and decided they just weren’t my “target audience” and that was ok. I learned that fancy new term because I was starting a business venture I never even knew to dream of before.

Once I started feeling like myself again, I looked back at how I felt in October 2015, and I knew that was Postpartum Depression. I had a different doctor when I was in Alabama, she didn’t know me as well as my KY doctor did, and didn’t know the signs of PPD I was exhibiting.

I told all of this to my KY doctor once we moved back (after I was through it actually), and he confirmed yes it did sound like PPD to him and he hated I had to go through it.

I have since been prescribed a few natural stress relieving capsules and one small-dose pharmaceutical that I take daily. My doctor has diagnosed me with PMDD now, which is basically hormone depression that happens once a month before I get my period. Apparently, my hormones are just the actual worst.

Things are so much better now. I know to talk to my doctor, immediately, if something doesn’t feel right. I no longer just assume what I’m feeling is normal because it may not be and it might be something that needs addressing.

Postpartum Depression can look very different for different people. Some people feel like they don’t love their kids, some people have extreme fear and anxiety 24/7 and think their kids are going to get stolen and some people just hate themselves with all their hearts. I’m sure the list goes on!

The first thing I do when I talk to a new mom is, tell her if you feel anything other than happy, talk to your doctor. Do not wait, do not think you’re normal or it’ll pass, just talk to them as soon as possible and nip it in the bud because PPD is the absolute worst.

I am so thankful for the maker community every single day. I still remember, vividly, how awful I felt in those first few years of being a new mom. Those women (and like 2 men) really helped me more than I could ever describe in words, and I will spend my entire career providing free crochet patterns and resources to help them start and run their own handmade businesses.

To the makers

Postpartum Depression- What Happens When You Find Your Tribe

The love and encouragement you gave me when I first started sharing my crochet patterns were exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. I know God sent specific people in this community to be a light in my life (Tana being one of them), and to show me my new purpose, fuel my new passion and really give me a reason, outside of being a wife and mom, to start living my life in a new light. I tell you guys all the time how much you mean to me, hopefully, after reading this post it will make a little more sense. I owe you guys, and God, my happiness. Because God protected me and because you loved on me, Ava has a mommy who loves herself and her life and Gabe has a wife who is confident and fired up about being a Mompreneur.

From the bottom of my heart- Thank you

29 thoughts on “How the Maker Community Helped Me overcome Postpartum Depression

  1. Jaclyn Combs says:

    This hits so close to home. I went through PPD after my son was born, and it was horrible. Crocheting and being creative again was what saved me. Thank you for sharing your story, and continuing to be an inspiration to myself and the countless other makers out there. Xoxo

    • Ashley says:

      Shew I am so sorry to hear you struggled with it to. It was literally the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. Im glad you had your creativity !! Thank you for reading!

    • Marilyn Moody says:

      your story is so amazing! i literally have tears in my eyes as i type this!!!! im so happy you love yourself now because…YOU ARE ENOUGH! God created us in HIS likeness so we are not junk. (Thank you Lord. ) always remember that. Thank you for your honesty and your giving heart???? You are awesome and your kindness is infectious , that’s why I love ya! lol Have a blessed day sweetie????????

    • Ashley says:

      Omgosh youre going to make ME tear up! Thank you so much for your kind words. Im glad you could relate and I hope you start feeling like yourself again sooner rather than later! Good luck on your business venture!! I wish you all the success!

  2. Trinity says:

    You’re so amazing and inspiring Ashley! Thank you for sharing your story and bringing awareness to mental health month ????

    • Ashley says:

      Thank you so much for reading Trinity. I wasnt sure how this kind of post would go over with my audience, but so far it seems to be nothing but love!!

    • Ashley says:

      Thank you so much bestie!! Im not a very good writer lol, I edited it probably a million times. But I just had to hit publish you know? Thanks for reading it!!

  3. Keli says:

    Thank you Ashley for sharing and being so vulnerable with us! You are such an inspiration and role model for so many! Though I never experienced PPD after my kiddos, I definitely have went through phases of self-loathing. As we get older (I’m 31) and our bodies DO change, it can be so frustrating. I have loved my body, settled with it and hated it. Its a journey and takes a lot of work. I too have chosen to stop thinking of this one area and pour myself into my work, family, and now growing my business. Those pieces that fill you provide so much more and really, truly are more fulfilling anyways!

    • Ashley says:

      Change is absolutely frustrating! It’s almost like a switch was flipped and as soon as you hit 30 things start to give out ????Im glad you are able to focus on the positivies though, its a gift! Thank you so much for reading.

  4. Narin says:

    This is truly an inspiring story. I went thru PPD really bad for 2 years after my 2nd child was born (still go through it now nearly 5 years later) I didn’t realize what it was until panic attacks were a nightly thing after the kids were tucked safely in their beds. It overcame me and finally got help. Therapy and pharmaceuticals are helping a little bit. We’re still trying to figure out the right combo of meds to get me back on track again. Big hugs to you girl. Us mamas need to stick and GROW together!

  5. Katy says:

    Thank you for sharing a part of your story. It is so encouraging. It’s not talked about nearly enough. I had PP anxiety with my son and I couldn’t sit in my recliner next to my balcony sliding door without feeling like he would fall. Counseling definitely helped me work through that. You are a inspiration to so many. God is so good!

  6. Jessica says:

    Hi Ashley! Thanks for sharing your story. I’m currently going through this! My daughter will be 3 months old on the 14th of this month and it just hit me about 2 weeks ago that I had ppd. I kept thinking, why do I feel this way? I never felt this way after I had my first 2 girls. I was on an antidepressant when I was pregnant with them. That maybe why. I’ve been just feeling really down, no motivation, and worried about all sorts of things happening to my baby. Totally out of my norm. Now, that I’ve realized what’s going on. I’ve really started to throw myself back into my work and decided to also focus on losing the extra weight. I’ve been packing it around from my last pregnancy and haven’t felt good about myself. And now, I really don’t feel comfortable in my own skin. Our craft is definitely helping me get through this. Without it, I don’t know how I’d cope. Thanks again for sharing. I think too many of us are suffering in silence. And don’t even realize what’s happening!

    • Ashley says:

      I think thats absolutely true. I had no idea something was even wrong. I’d hate to think of something suffering and not knowing to ask for help. I hope you can get the guidance you need soon! It’s very good you are able to recognize it!

  7. Tricia says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story Ashley! I’m thankful for you and this beautifully, supportive community. Y’all are bringing so much joy and encouragement to my life at a time I really need it. Ashley, your smile and excitement for the craft is truly contagious!

  8. Cindy says:

    Thanks so much Ashley for sharing! It means so much for our stories to be told, for our mental health journeys to be shared, not struggled with in isolation. I so appreciate you opening up, so others can realize they are not alone.
    Take care and thanks,

  9. Marilyn Moody says:

    your story is so amazing! i literally have tears in my eyes as i type this!!!! im so happy you love yourself now because…YOU ARE ENOUGH! God created us in HIS likeness so we are not junk. (Thank you Lord. ) always remember that. Thank you for your honesty and your giving heart???? You are awesome and your kindness is infectious , that’s why I love ya! lol Have a blessed day sweetie????????

  10. Tiffany says:

    Oh my gosh. I would have never guessed you were going through all this. When I first started following you on Instagram your post always seemed to me you were happy and had a perfect life. To be honest I would sometimes get depressed because I would see how you were running a business with a small kid and I couldn’t get my life together as a stay at home mom. My mom used to crochet and I always thought it was for “old people” and u was afraid to even try because I thought I’d never get the hang of it. I moved to Alabama from Michigan and like you got pregnant and was in a new state with no friends and my husband was always out if town because if his job. I didn’t realize I always had PPD and wouldn’t even recognize it was a real thing because I was so embarrassed. I felt so out if place and worthless so I started crafting. I love jewelery boxes so I would find old boxes at the thrift store and started restoring them and selling them. I remember just scrolling YouTube and a crochet beanie turtorial popped up and I watched because I thought ” pfft why not” I saved the video went to hobby lobby and bought some yarn. I had no idea what sc, hdc, or ch meant I followed the video and the outcome was horrible lol!! I felt even worse about myself. But one day I was on IG and your Claire Bun Beanie popped up and I thought it was the cutest thing I’ve even seen and I had to try it. I bought your pattern and felt like an idiot because I’ve never read a pattern before and barely knew what any of it meant, I messaged you asking for help and I honestly thought I wasn’t going to get a response or if I did it would have been an I’m such an idiot or discouraging response back. But it wasn’t at all, you were extremely nice and encouraging, and helped me step by step even sent a video! That moment made me feel so much better because I was so depressed about everything going in my life. Crocheting became my happy and I started doing it more and more and it has helped me through my depression. And the community has been so positive! It’s so crazy how much I can relate to your story and I fell better knowing it wasn’t just me and something was wrong with me. Now if I can only lose this baby weight lol. Thank you so much for sharing this story ❤️♥️♥️ I will always support you because your small kindness really did help me in my rough time.

    • Ashley says:

      Omgosh thank you so much for sharing such a sweet comment!! Im glad I was able to help you with your Claire Bun Beanie!! Thanks for supporting my business! It means the world to me

  11. Berenice says:

    Hello there. I can relate to that when I went through PPD with my first child. Everything takes time and so now, I have a second child, but I learned so much from my first. I came into the second knowing what to expect. It was not easy as it was more than depression, it was Post Partum Illness. I am so glad today to say that I am in love with my kids and when I look back, it seems like ages ago. Thank you for sharing your experience. It certainly helps new moms and moms to be.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I got a little teary eyed reading the end because it hits so close to home. This is my third time struggling with different forms of PPD and all I can think is how excited I am to hopefully start my own bussiness as soon as life slows down a bit. I admire you, your little family and your work so much. Keep it up Ashley, you’re changing the world, one crafter at a time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *