MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Bringing a baby home is supposed to be the happiest time in a mother’s life, right?
For one South Florida woman who has experienced more than her share of heartbreak, coping with a newborn was a lesson in learning to love herself and never giving up.
To working mom Michelle Zambrana, her son Abe is the center of her universe. But all the love in the world doesn’t always prepare you for the realities of parenthood.
“Being a mom is like cramming for a final that I’m not ready for in the morning,” Zambrana told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana.
Zambrana says she wasn’t ready for the feelings of loneliness and guilt that came along with being a new mom. After months of struggling in silence, she turned to social media, and she found other women who felt the same way.
Zambrana is among the 600,000 women who develop Post-Partum Depression (PPD) each year in the US.
“You learn a lot about yourself about a person,” she said.
Thanks to therapy and treatment, Zambrana is surviving and thriving. She’s also sharing her story in hopes of helping others.
“In a world where social media really filters everything, I don’t want to filter everything,” Zambrana said.
Mental health issues have always hit close to home for Zambrana. Her father was a Vietnam vet who suffered from PTSD. He was murdered when she was just 23 years old.
“At the heart of it all, he was an amazing man. And when he passed, it was just overwhelming,” she said.
His death derailed her college career, but after a lot of hard work and a creative application, in which she rapped a song from the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton”, she was admitted to Florida International University’s Graduate School as a World’s Ahead Scholar.
Zambrana graduated this past fall, and along with a full-time public relations job and parenting duties, she manages to share her story on her blog “Healthy Fat Chicks” to inspire others to get the help they need.
“One of the comments I got was that I’m never afraid to be real. If anyone wants to see a filtered mommy life there are a million out there,” she said. “Even the things that aren’t Instagram-worthy are still worthy of a conversation.”
She’s lending her voice to the conversation and answering the question “what makes you a survivor?”
“I’m sitting here. And I can smile,” she said. “The moves you make every day don’t have to make or break you but they have to do something. And if they break you, that’s not a bad thing. It’s ok to break a little bit so that you can build.”
Zambrana continues to build her online presence, and while she says she has been focused on being an advocate for herself, she is now using her platform to be an advocate for others.