Are You There Internet? It’s Me, Julia.

I’m unsure where to start. It’s not like we can hug or something. Is “long time no see” sufficient?

A lot has changed since I last logged on. I briefly mentioned we had a baby. We sold our house in St. Louis and moved back to our hometown of Springfield, Illinois, to be near family. We purchased my childhood home and started renovating it. Yogurt, our beloved cat, passed away. Lance left the fire department and started working from home. And somewhere during that mess I shifted away from blogging and quietly focused on my freelance work.

The idea was never to leave the blog. After all, it was literally a huge part of my job. I had views. It made money. I felt like I was good at it. So why would I abandon something that was, if nothing else, financially successful?

My brain physically wouldn’t let me continue.

In 2020, there were more important conversations happening than the daily musings of a fashion blogger. The pause started because I didn’t want to add bullshit during times of crucial information — and it eventually shifted to “in a constantly struggling world, who do I think I am to take up this space with such pointless topics?”

Then there was being pregnant. After so many years of unsuccessful infertility treatment I never fully accepted that my pregnancy would result in a baby. I felt like I was stuck holding my breath the entire time, and the panic manifested in every part of my body. From clenched muscles to the inability to sleep, and I felt like I could barely breathe, let alone be creative.

The plan was then to pick things back up when we moved, but that’s when two old standbys took the reins: depression and self doubt.

Here’s the not-so-pretty truth of my postpartum experience: I hate how I look after pregnancy so much that it’s hard to look in a mirror, let alone be in photos. I’ve reverted back to spiraling sob fests over selfies, a la my teenage years. It isn’t something I can pinpoint. I’m not irrationally focused on baby weight or sagging breastfeeding boobs. Everything feels different, like I’m trapped in someone else’s body. I can outthink it enough to remind myself it’s body dysmorphia but not enough to actually enjoy a photo. Tricking your own brain is hard.

With moving — and high emotions — comes the aforementioned self doubt. We left our friends of the last decade and rejoined old friend groups who, understandably, have their own routines without us. We work from home so we don’t have the benefits of coworker convos. Fueled by mixed up hormones and unbalanced brain bullshit it has turned into my angstiest “no one likes me and they’d prefer I leave” slump since middle school. I’ve never felt so friendless and awkward. I just want to stay inside, in my stained sweats and old t-shirt, and play toys with Charlie until it’s time for bed.

But for so many reasons I can’t keep doing that. I’m not telling you this to fish for compliments or weirdly ask for pity. Maybe it’ll make some other postpartum emotional ball feel less insane. Maybe it won’t. Either way, it’s the truth of what happened and the cycle I’m stuck in and I’m out of shits to give about faking those facts.

So here I am. Looking different. Feeling different. Being… different. Wouldn’t it be weird if I was still the same? I have no idea if you’re still here, and to be honest I care less than I expected. I liked doing this. I’ve missed doing this. The only reasons I haven’t been doing this aren’t healthy. That could be enough. That could be enough? Right? Let’s pretend I’m convincing you and not me.

I went on antidepressants, and I have to say — Lexapro is spectacular. I’m still not feeling like me but I’m feeling strong enough to fake being me and maybe that will lead to the real thing. Either way I’m here. Oh Julia Ann is back. I’m demanding this from myself. I can still accomplish things.

What does that mean you can expect? I still plan to share a lot of the same content: DIYs, home decor, style, entertaining. Maybe infertility updates if we decide to try for a second child? I’ll be talking about motherhood, sure, but don’t expect this to get that weird family-channel ick; I’m aiming for more no-bullshit-surviving-parenthood vibes. And I’ll be posting here on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

I may be writing into the void, but it does feel good to write again. Maybe through this seeing photos of my new self won’t become as physically painful as it currently is. Maybe it’ll be a good excuse to get dressed more often. Or maybe it’ll just be a simple way to get my words-per-minute typing score back on track. Anything is better than putting it off for another month just because I’m scared.

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