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Lost. Alone. Abandoned. Overwhelmed. Depressed.

These words consumed me in the days after my son’s birth. Am I not cut out to be a mother? Am I not trying hard enough? Am I supposed to feel like this?

I experienced first-hand the power postpartum depression holds. It had consumed my life. Suddenly, small, everyday tasks seemed impossible, and I did not feel like myself. It was at this low point that I decided it was time for me to take my life back.

With the help of my amazing support system, I enrolled in therapy to start my journey of healing.

During one of my sessions, my therapist suggested I find something to do that was just for myself, so part of my recovery became finding something I enjoyed. This is when I discovered the world of pageantry.

Competing for Mrs. Texas gave me a chance to reclaim my identity and reignite my passions beyond motherhood. I took the plunge and emerged victorious as Mrs. Texas 2022. Later that same year, I became Mrs. United States and am now looking forward to competing for Mrs. International in late July.

Mrs. United States posing

Although my pageant journey helped heal certain parts of me, there was still something missing. It was in this dark time that I turned to God to be my light. My relationship with the Lord became my anchor, providing me with hope, comfort, and the courage to keep moving forward. It was through this spiritual reconnection that I realized my mission extended beyond my own personal journey; I needed to be a voice for those who felt alone during their post-birth battles.

This revelation helped direct me to my Mrs. United States platform to shed light on postpartum depression and create a safe space for mothers to share their struggles. I hope to inspire by sharing my own journey: the triumphs, the setbacks and the ongoing process of healing.

I also love the unique opportunity I have as Assistant Director at Lionheart Children’s Academy at Bent Tree Bible as it allows me to walk alongside moms who might be in a similar season. It’s this part of my job, the part where I get to not only serve kids, but also serve their entire families, that is one of my favorites. It’s also one of the reasons I chose Lionheart. We’re in the business of partnering with parents in their own journeys, and it’s so rewarding to be a part of this community.

In my role as Mrs. United States, I have partnered with an amazing organization called Postpartum Support International (PSI). This organization is dedicated to providing mothers with any information and resources they may need in order to be successful. PSI helped me through some of my most challenging times as a new mother, and I am now thrilled to be able to work with them to help other mothers through their challenges.

Motherhood is a breathtaking roller coaster ride, filled with unexpected twists and turns. Through faith in God, self-discovery and pageantry, I have refused to let this condition define me. Postpartum depression is a part of my story, but it does not define my worth. Together, we can rewrite the narrative and create a more supportive world for the mothers of today, and the mothers of tomorrow.

Annika H., Assistant Academy Director 

The Mrs. United States in outdoor event