Aromatherapy and essential oils offer a ton of mental health benefits.
In this time of social distancing and quarantining, many people are feeling the negative effects of distance from their loved ones, routine and everyday life. The simple pleasures that we took for granted, like coffee with a friend, leisurely strolls around the grocery store or afternoon walks through public parks won’t be a part of our lives for the foreseeable future. With all of these stressors (and more) constantly running through our minds, it’s no wonder that we need some additional at-home self-care solutions.
Especially for those that were already struggling with mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, being constantly home-bound with nothing but your thoughts can lead to not-too-good feelings regarding yourself, your surroundings and your life. Though there isn’t an all-encompassing at-home remedy to stopping these negative thoughts in their tracks, there are several ways you can prioritize your mental and physical well-being while quarantining.
One of these solutions lies in using essential oils around your home as aromatherapy.
Especially now, having a relaxing, cozy space you can truly decompress in is more important than it ever has been. These following five essential oils will help make your space, and your thoughts, much more comfortable to be around for long periods of time.
These oils can be used in a variety of ways:through diffusing, incorporating into baths or lotion, topical application with a carrier oil or inhaling the scent directly. The best way to use each of these oils is included with the description of the oils below!
This is perhaps one of the most well-known essential oils, and for good reason. This earthy, herbaceous scent is a fan-favorite among aromatherapists for its abilities to combat the symptoms of mild depression, ward off insomnia and ease the grip of anxious feelings and thoughts.
To see how lavender can help you, try diffusing in your bedroom before going to sleep or applying topically with a carrier oil in the morning to pulse points, specifically wrists and behind the ears.
If meditation or self-reflection is included in your self-care routine, try diffusing sandalwood during your me-time. This warm, woody scent has shown in studies to increase both mental clarity and focus, making meditation easier while exposed to this scent. Sandalwood has also shown to have a calming effect on the limbic system, along with sedative and mood-calming properties that enhance quality of sleep.
If you’re experiencing a lack of energy or allover lethargy during quarantine, try incorporating a citrus scent like orange or grapefruit into your living and working space. Citrus scents like orange are known to have powerful energizing properties, with orange specifically being linked to increased feelings of happiness, energy levels and overall happier moods. A study even found the orange scent to lower cortisol levels, which leads to increased stress and anxiety.
For a much-needed burst of energy in the morning or during a mid-day slump, try diffusing in the morning and inhaling from the bottle during the day.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you’ve been having trouble getting to and falling asleep, Roman Chamomile could help regulate your sleep schedule. In various studies, this herbaceous, floral scent has proved to help users get to sleep, and can even fight insomnia for better sleep.
To make going to bed a more pleasant experience, add some drops to your nightly shower and diffuse in the evenings to help get your body ready for sleep.
For those experiencing an overwhelming amount of emotions, jasmine essential oils have been shown to help with a variety of anxious and depressive symptoms. Not only has it proven to have a mildly sedative effect, it has been observed to have a calming effect on the brain, easing anxious thoughts, feelings and overwhelm—in fact, the scent can be “as calming as valium.” Jasmine has also been observed to stimulate the brain in certain cases, which can boost the mood and feelings of happiness.
Though there’s no way to tell when our lives will return to normal, it’s important to prioritize your physical, mental and emotional well-being during this time. This includes making yourself comfortable and feeling at-home during this stressful time—which aromatherapy and essential oils can help with. For more information on how essential oils can help with isolation anxieties, check out this visual on seven more oils and their benefits.
Emily Borst is a digital content creator who helps FragranceX create helpful and compelling stories worth sharing. Her background in digital marketing and creative writing has led her to cover unique topics ranging from business to eco to lifestyle. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, crafting, reading, and eating her way through Austin, Texas.
You’ve heard of birth plans, but making a postpartum plan can be equally if not more important.
A postpartum plan is a way to help you prepare for those first few months after giving birth. Many women create birth plans in anticipation of their labor and delivery, but often neglect the postpartum period. This can result in sleep deprivation, breastfeeding problems, added stress and may even contribute to symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety.
Here’s how and why you should create a postpartum plan for the months following your baby’s birth.
The postpartum period is often called the fourth trimester and usually considered the first three months after giving birth. However, women require different amounts of time to recover after childbirth. The physical and hormonal changes usually regulate within six weeks, but mental health can sometimes take longer. Whether it’s your first or your fourth child, it can be hard to predict how long you will need postpartum care until the time actually comes.
The birth of a baby is like a mass signal to all our family and friends that it’s time to come and meet them. But too many visitors at once can interrupt the postpartum healing process. You may either feel excited to show off your new baby, or anxious about too many people crowding them (and you).
If you’ve given birth in a hospital, then there are usually specific rules that visitors must follow and this should also be the case when you are home. Try to schedule specific times for visitors, and don’t have everyone come all at once. Make sure visitors are washing their hands before holding or touching baby and don’t let anyone to kiss your newborn baby. Don’t allow visitors to simply “drop by” because that could interrupt your sleep or breastfeeding routine. And if at any time you feel anxious or overwhelmed by your visitors, feel free to ask them to leave or excuse yourself to your your bedroom. You’re not a party hostess.
Communicate these rules to your family and friends, even if it feels awkward. Adding this into your postpartum plan and letting them all know your wishes ahead of time can make it easier. Once baby arrives, the excitement can often distract everyone from the plan, so make sure to remind them in a text, e-mail or a printed note on the front door. No one should feel offended by your decision to focus on your postpartum health.
Take a look at a calendar and figure out your postpartum timeline. When will you be 2 weeks postpartum? Baby will need a check up with their pediatrician. What date will you be 6 weeks postpartum? That’s when you will need your checkup. The postpartum period can often go by quickly, so knowing the dates that you hit these milestones ahead of time can help you stay focused on your recovery.
If you can, try to book all of your appointments in advance. Doctor’s offices can sometimes be difficult to get into, and a lot can change in just a few days during the postpartum period. If you know that you have an appointment coming up, you can prepare any questions that you have ahead of time. Making notes of things that you want to discuss can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
And don’t forget to include any appointments with lactation consultants, the public health nurse, newborn photographers, for religious ceremonies, to get government paperwork or passports done, etc. When you think about it, there’s a lot that needs to be done to welcome a new person into the world.
It really does take a village to raise a child. Many moms these days tend to go it alone thanks to our ever busy lives. But historically and in many cultures today, it’s unheard of for a new mother to tackle the postpartum period on her own. Asking for help during the postpartum period does not make you any less capable of a mother. If anything, it’s one of the smartest things you can do.
Make a list or schedule for those who are available and willing to help you out. Your spouse or partner is going to be helper number one but it’s understandable that they won’t be available 24/7 as most workplaces only offer minimal amounts of parental leave. Try to schedule additional help during the times they are not around. Parents, siblings, friends, neighbors are often more than happy to help you out – all you have to do is ask.
If you really can’t find anyone to help, and your budget can afford it, considering hiring help. A postpartum doula is specifically trained to help you with everything you need in the postpartum period. You can also consider hiring a housekeeper or cleaning service, a food delivery service or night nurse. If there isn’t room in your budget for these kinds of things, add them to your baby registry.
Make Time to Rest
Your postpartum plan should be centered around getting rest. Rest is so incredibly important in those first few months postpartum. Regardless of how your labor and delivery went, all moms need to allow their bodies time to heal. A lot is happening inside of us that we don’t always see from the outside. So while making your postpartum plan, make sure to schedule in lots of time for sleep, naps and lying down with your feet up.
Moms tend to feel guilty when it comes to rest. The urge to cook and clean and take care of everyone else is a strong force within us. But rest is an important part of the healing process, both physically and mentally. Thankfully, newborns are pretty cooperative when it comes to this. Even if you’re not “sleeping when baby sleeps” make sure that both you and baby are getting enough sleep.
Once you’ve enlisted help to take care of all your other responsibilities, spend as much time as you can in bed with your baby.Focus on breastfeeding, have lots of skin to skin contact and sleep whenever baby does. This will also help with the bonding process, which can help with symptoms of the baby blues or postpartum depression.
Plan Out Your Meals
A healthy diet is essential to healing in the postpartum period. What type of food you eat can affect breastfeeding, your postpartum body and your mental health. You shouldn’t have to worry about cooking during the first few weeks, so having prepared food ready should be an essential part of your postpartum plan.
Stocking the freezer with healthy meals is a common practice for many moms during the “nesting phase” of their pregnancy. This will ensure that you always have something hearty that can be ready with very little effort. Stock your pantry with healthy non-perishables that are easy to whip up, like canned meats or beans, soups, pasta, or instant oatmeal (great for boosting your milk supply.) Buy them little by little throughout your pregnancy so that you have a fully stocked pantry by the time baby arrives.
Create a list of some of your favorite healthy dishes that family and friends can cook and bring for you when they come to visit. The majority of people (especially veteran moms) love feeling helpful by bringing food, but you don’t want to end up with a bunch of casseroles that you’ll never touch. They don’t have to be full meals either, you can request some simple things like fresh fruit or vegetables, smoothies or sandwiches.
Or try a food delivery service. There are so many different ones available now. Many of them offer free dishes and trial periods which can hold you over during the postpartum period. Don’t forget to add gift cards to these services on your baby registry, they make great last minute or long-distance gift ideas.
Add in Light Exercise
Your postpartum body is very different than your pre-pregnancy one. Many moms are anxious to start dropping the baby weight and get back into shape, but postpartum fitness should be more about strength and wellness than weight loss. Once you’ve gotten the green light from your doctor or midwife, you can begin to add in light exercise to help your body recover from pregnancy and childbirth.
Focus on your pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles do the majority of the work when it comes to pregnancy, labor and delivery. During the postpartum period, they will need some work to get them back into shape and reduce the risk of pelvic pain, urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. There are several light exercises you can do to strengthen them, including Kegels and pelvic lifts. Or you can invest in a pelvic floor training device to do them with ease.
Try low-impact workouts, like yoga.Postpartum yoga is a popular option and some places even offer mom and baby classes. Walking or jogging is another great option for moms, with local stroller walking groups popping up all over the place. Any kind of light exercise will help get you feeling like yourself again. But until your body is fully healed, it’s a good idea to hold off on weight lifting or high-intensity workouts.
Monitor Your Mental Health
Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are one of most common complications of childbirth. Even if you are low risk, there are chances that you could get postpartum depression, anxiety or psychosis. This is something all mothers should be aware of and prepare for in their postpartum plan.
Don’t stay silent about it. Speak up if you feel like something isn’t right. Tell your spouse, your mom or best friend. Talk to your doctor or midwife. Call a postpartum support helpline. There are several different options available and it’s better to get help sooner rather than later.
A postpartum plan should be designed with you and baby in mind. Just like with a birth plan, make sure to communicate what you want with those who will be supporting you in the first few months. And, also like a birth plan, bear in mind that things may not always go according to plan. Your labor and delivery will have a lot to do with your recovery process. Make sure to leave room for adjustments as needed. Most importantly, rest, relax, and get to know your new baby!
For the past few months, I’ve been dealing with depression, despite being on anti-depressants. I assumed it was triggered by the chronic pain I have been experiencing since developing scar tissue adhesions following my hysterectomy for endometriosis. Having suffered from depression off and on since being diagnosed with postpartum depression many years ago, I didn’t want to let it get out of control. So I thought it was time to try out cognitive behavioral therapy via Online-Therapy.com.
Here’s a look at what my experience was like with online therapy.
How Does Online Cognitive Behavior Therapy Work?
I have tried online therapy before, in the form of online talk therapy. That means that I’ve video chatted with a licensed therapist to discuss my thoughts and feelings. I’ve also done talk therapy in person, so online talk therapy wasn’t much different from that, aside from the convenience of it.
But cognitive behavior therapy at online-therapy.com is a completely different world. First of all, it’s not talk therapy. It’s a series of activities that you do in order to help reprogram your brain. The idea being that if you can change your way of thinking, you can change your behaviors and ultimately, your mood.
Secondly, you do it all at your own pace. I decided to be more aggressive and try to complete all the sections in 30 days. This meant that I was logging on and completing at least one worksheet every couple of days. But there is no timeline, no deadlines, no schedules, no specific hours of availability. You can complete a worksheet in the middle of the night if you want to!
And finally, while you’re doing it all on your own, you’re never actually alone. You’re assigned one therapist to work with you throughout the entire process. As you complete sections and worksheets, your therapist will leave comments about what you’ve written. You can schedule a weekly live chat and you can email your therapist whenever you need to. Over the 30 days, I really did develop a bond with my therapist and looked forward to connecting with her during the weekly chats.
The Benefits of Working Solo
I’ve always been better working at my own pace. Some days I would complete an entire section with it’s corresponding worksheets, and other days I would just do part of a section and one worksheet. And while the worksheets are designed for self-reflection, I always looked forward to getting that notification that my therapist had responded to my answers. When it was time for our live chat session, I couldn’t wait to talk to her about some of the things we had worked on. She always had great input and feedback about the things I’d written in my worksheets.
While it was reassuring that my therapist was always there for me, I also felt empowered that I was taking control of my own thoughts and emotions. The worksheets really made me think. I was responsible for examining my own negative behaviors and how I responded to certain triggers. Taking ownership of my reactions to common situations made me want to change my behaviors even more.
Towards the last few sections, I became much more efficient at recognizing my negative thoughts and behaviors and how to replace them with positive ones, or healthier negative ones. At the time, I found some of the worksheets to be repetitive, but now I see that was done on purpose. Having to recall certain thoughts and behaviors over and over meant finding out which ones affected me the most.
The Online Therapy Toolbox
The sections and worksheets are just one part of the cognitive behavior therapy process. In order to get the most out of therapy, I needed to make some life changes.
Yoga and meditation was something I have been wanting to incorporate into my daily life for a while now. In the online therapy toolbox, there are a series of yoga videos that I can access at any time, and they include both short workouts and longer ones.
The online journal was another great tool available 24/7. As a writer, journaling has been something I’ve started and stopped several times throughout my life. But the online therapy journal isn’t just a blank page for me to write in all my thoughts, instead there were specific questions I needed to answer each day to get me thinking about how I wanted to feel. This made it easy for me to set goals each morning and be accountable for achieving those goals each evening.
The action plan was a place where I was really accountable for making progress. As I went through the online therapy course, I scheduled specific activities to help me get better. Things like yoga, exercise, socializing events and health appointments. As I completed each activity on my action plan, I checked off that it was done and it was added to my “ta-da” list (instead of a to-do list). Seeing all the actions I had completed towards improving my mental health gave me a sense of accomplishment.
Getting a Diagnosis
As I go through and complete the worksheets, my therapist reads all of my answers. She leaves a comment within 24 hours and I can reply if I want to. She was able to divulge certain things from my answers that I didn’t immediately see. Together, we came to the conclusion that I was suffering from some trauma related to my hysterectomy. I realized that I hadn’t grieved for the loss of my uterus in the right way and therefore, every time I felt pelvic pain, I was reminded of that loss.
Following that revelation, I began to work on activities to help me grieve. I started to write about the loss and allow myself to feel the emptiness, even cry about it. I now have an answer as to why the pain causes me to be depressed, and I have an action plan in place on how to replace that depression with something more positive.
Was 30 Days of Therapy Enough?
The thing about cognitive behavior therapy is that it’s not something someone else does for you. It’s something you learn to do yourself. It’s not like getting a massage, it’s more like learning how to drive. Once you learn how to change your thinking, it’s something you need to continue to do regularly. And the more you practice, the better and more confident you will get.
Online-therapy.com offers a course in cognitive behavior therapy. How long it takes you to complete the course is up to you. I managed to complete the entire course in 30 days but that doesn’t signal the end of my therapy. I now need to take everything I’ve learned and put into practice in my every day life.
Others may need longer than 30 days to complete the course and may want additional therapist support along the way. Thankfully, sessions are billed monthly and you can stop at any time with the click of one button. And you’ll still have access to your toolbox even after the subscription ends, so you can continue with the yoga and meditation, journal entries and action plan.
This was the right form of therapy for me because I find it easier to write out my emotions than to voice them. I was also in a place where I wanted to get better, and I wanted to take ownership of my own mind and moods. Those things were key to getting the most out of the online therapy experience.
If you’re not quite ready to do it on your own, consider the package that allows two live chats a week instead of one, so that you have that additional support. Online-therapy.com costs less than traditional talk therapy because you’re not paying for someone else’s time by the hour. I put off doing it for a long time because of the cost associated with it. But eventually I needed to prioritize my own mental health, no matter the cost.
So whatever your struggle is, I urge you to consider this option. You may not find a diagnosis or the root cause of your mental health issues in just 30 days, and you definitely don’t need to. For many people, mental health disorders are a lifelong battle. You may need to do multiple rounds of therapy or try a combination of treatment options to find relief. But if you’re interested in learning how to take control of your own mind and moods, then cognitive behavior therapy might be for you.
Does postpartum depression put you at a higher risk for contracting coronavirus?
The new coronavirus, COVID-19, is officially a global pandemic and causing all kinds of anxiety and uncertainty. It can be especially hard on new moms who are already dealing with mental health issues. Moms with postpartum depression might see an increase in their symptoms during this time. Yes, it’s a stressful time for everyone, but could moms with mental health issues actually be at a higher risk?
If you have postpartum depression, find out if you are at risk of contracting coronavirus.
Those most at risk for contracting coronavirus include the sick, elderly and people with a weakened immune system. Many mothers with postpartum depression may suffer from a weak immune system, which is what puts them in the high-risk category. Depending on how recently a mother has given birth, her immune system may not have had a chance to recover properly. And certain behaviors caused by postpartum depression can affect our immune systems as well.
Symptoms of a weakened immune system:
Frequent and long lasting illnesses and infections
Digestion issues (diarrhea, nausea, constipation)
New or increased allergies
Joint pain or inflammation
Think about whether or not you seem to catch every cold or still get the flu despite getting the flu shot. Do your symptoms drag on for a long time? Do your wounds take long to heal? These are all warning signs that you could have a weak immune system. And if you’re likely to catch a cold from someone sneezing nearing you, then you’re also likely to catch coronavirus.
How does postpartum depression cause a weakened immune system?
Stress is the number one culprit when it comes to a weakened immune system. High levels of stress can increase our cortisol levels and decrease our lymphocytes(the white blood cells that help fight off infection). This imbalance within our bodies makes us more susceptible to viruses, like COVID-19. Moms with postpartum depression and anxiety often find themselves under a lot of stress. It’s never easy to manage the kids and a household, while trying to maintain our own mental health. Therefore, they are at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.
New moms, especially those with symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety, are not getting nearly enough sleep as they need to. Chronic sleep deprivation can affect our immune system in a negative way. Normally while we sleep, our body works to produce certain antibodies that help us fight infection. Sleep is also our body’s time to recharge and refill. But when we don’t get enough sleep, our immune system goes into overdrive. Then it doesn’t work when we need it to the most, like for fighting off the coronavirus.
Both postpartum depression and anxiety can cause a new mother to distance herself from others, long before the CDC recommended it for the prevention of the spread of Coronavirus. Moms normally take extra measures to keep baby away from crowds and strangers, in order to protect their fragile immune systems. But all this time spent in isolation results in the opposite for moms. Without being exposed to normal, everyday bacteria in the outside world, moms haven’t been able to build up any immunity to it. Our immune system needs a lot of practice in order to keep it in good, working condition.
Fluctuating Hormone Levels
While the underlying cause of postpartum depression is still unknown, some theories suggest it could be due to changes in hormone levels after giving birth. We know this to be the cause when it comes to the baby blues, which is why it’s so common and doesn’t last long. Postpartum depression is a much more complicated illness, however. Either way, lower levels of estrogen may contribute to weakening the immune system. All women who experience a hormonal imbalance of estrogen might be susceptible. This includes women who are postpartum, peri-menopausal or who have had a hysterectomy.
Unhealthy Eating Habits
Our body needs a steady source of vitamins and minerals in order to stay healthy. But moms with postpartum depression or anxiety don’t always have the greatest eating habits. Whether it’s binge-eating junk food or skipping meals all together, these bad habits can weaken our immune system and make us susceptible to the coronavirus. If food was an issue during your pregnancy (due to hyperemesis gravidarum, gestational diabetes, anemia, etc.) you may already have some type of vitamin deficiency.
How will coronavirus affect a mom’s mental health?
Drink lots of water. Regularly drinking water not only boosts your immune system, but helps to flush out any unwanted bacteria in your body.
Get plenty of fresh air in wide, open spaces. Avoid crowded parks and playgrounds and take a stroll through nature instead.
Practice deep breathing and meditation.Not only does meditation help to calm stress, but taking long, deep breaths will actually improve your lung function. Strong lungs will help in the event that you need to fight off coronavirus.
Focus on the positive. This worldwide pandemic is one for the history books! As scary as the times are right now, we are living in a moment of history. Try journaling your experiences, or take photos. Look for ways that you can help out someone else, even if it’s just by making a phone call to check in.
Continue practicing self care. Increase the amount of self care you do daily, if that’s an option. In order to keep yourself from getting cabin fever, you’ll need to find time to yourself each day.
Try online therapy. If your mental health is truly suffering during the coronavirus outbreak, this is something you can always do from home.
The thought of a global pandemic killing thousands of people across the world is truly terrifying. With the intense amount of media coverage on the coronavirus, it can get very overwhelming for a mother with postpartum depression. It’s terrifying because so much of it is out of our control.
We need to focus on the small things that we can control. Don’t waste your time hoarding toilet paper. Instead, work on getting your immune system ready by eating healthy, getting enough sleep and finding ways to reduce your stress levels. In time, this too shall pass.
Talking about postpartum depression is never easy, even when it’s to the one we love the most.
Many women struggle with explaining postpartum depression to their partners, friends, family or other loved ones. It seems strange that we would allow ourselves to be vulnerable around our closest people, except when it comes to mental health. When it comes to explaining postpartum depression to our partners, having the right information is important.
This guest post by Betti Wilson is a summary of some of the best info about postpartum depression to help you communicate with your partner.
Description:A baby has just been born, and you expected that only joy and tenderness would overwhelm you. You would soar with happiness. Instead, you are overwhelmed by fears; all feelings have become aggravated to the state of bare wire.
What is postpartum depression and how it is detected?
Such increased emotionality is characteristic of many mothers in the first months after the child’s birth. Moreover, it’s not only a constant lack of sleep, the fact that your life has changed a lot, establish breastfeeding, look after the baby, etc. While your child is tiny and still very closely connected with you, your usual psychological defenses are weakening, and this is normal.
However, if time goes on and your feelings deepen more and more, you may have experienced postpartum depression or even postpartum psychosis. It does not mean at all that something is wrong with you or that you are weak. Instead, this condition can be considered as a physiological complication after childbirth, like a postpartum hemorrhage.
In this article, we will give you the postpartum definition, tell you what postpartum depression is, how to know its symptoms, and help you understand how to deal with it. The more you know about the condition, the better you will be at explaining postpartum depression to your partner or others.
What is postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression is a violation of the emotional sphere, because of which, in the first months after the birth of the baby, the mother experiences strong negative emotions. Below we list the main symptoms of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression can occur not only after the first birth. As a rule, it begins between the first and third weeks after childbirth. However, some women experience depression for a few months or even a year after giving birth.
If you are now in postpartum depression, remember that you are not alone. Your partner is likely more than willing to help you get through this. This condition is temporary, it should not be hidden, and when you get help, you will feel better.
Postpartum depression symptoms
To understand if you have postpartum depression or not, listen carefully to yourself. Here are the signs of postpartum depression:
Very sharp mood swings
Difficulties bonding with baby
Separation from family and friends
Increase or loss of appetite
Weakness and fatigue
Decreased interest in everything you liked
Increased irritability and outbursts of anger
Fear that you are a bad mother
Feeling of worthlessness, shame, guilt
Difficulties with doing routine activities
Constant anxiety and panic attacks
Thoughts about harming yourself or your child
Repeated thoughts of death or suicide
What causes it?
It is still not fully known what causes postpartum depression. The reason is a combination of physical and emotional prerequisites. Among them are:
Hormonal changes. After childbirth, the amount of pregnancy hormones — estrogen and progesterone — sharply decreases in the body. It can affect mood swings. The level of other hormones produced by the thyroid gland also decreases. That is why you can feel tired, depressed, and lethargic and you may experience postpartum hair loss.
Permanent lack of sleep. The body needs to recover from childbirth. However, you need to take care of the baby, so few mothers can generally relax and recover. Lack of sleep can cause physical discomfort and a constant feeling of fatigue. Moreover, this, in turn, triggers all the other symptoms of postpartum depression.
Emotional experiences. After the birth of a baby, a woman’s life changes dramatically. The body and self-identity are changing. It seems that your life has gone out of control and no longer belongs to you. All this, coupled with constant anxiety, also contributes to the development of postpartum depression.
How to deal with it?
Consult doctors with complaints of postpartum depression. They will tell you about possible treatment options, which include working with a psychologist and/or taking particular medications. These tips will increase the effectiveness of treatment and will contribute to your recovery:
Rest, and sleep. Set aside all household chores, and take time and attention for yourself. If your baby falls asleep, do not try to do all things during this time. Try to go to bed and also sleep. Ask your partner to take over for you while you sleep.
Simplify your life. Think about how and on what you could save energy and time? Do you often cook food for the whole family? It may be worthwhile to increase the volume and cook not every day, but a couple of times a week. Or make larger portions in advance and freeze them.
Speak with your partner. The child belongs to both of you and even if your partner supports the family, part of the childcare will fall on their shoulders. Explaining postpartum depression will help them to understand what you are going through.
Ask for help and accept it. All relatives live far away, and your partner disappears all day at work? You will be surprised, but help may come when you least expect it. However, it is essential not only to ask but also to be able to accept help. If you hear an offer to help you, do not rush to refuse out of politeness. Support can be very different.
Take time for yourself. As you know, if a mother is happy, then the baby will be satisfied. Make sure to practice self care daily and don’t neglect your needs, even with a demanding baby.
Stay in touch. Many mothers think that they suddenly found themselves in isolation, and they suffer from it. Make sure that the internet does not suck you in. Get acquainted with moms at the playgrounds, call friends to visit and do not be afraid to go out with baby. Found out are postpartum girdles safeand do not hesitate to go for a walk or to the gym.
Separate responsibilities. Your partner will be happy to help you – you just need to ask him for support. Explaining how postpartum depression affects you will open up the lines of communication. They will be more willing to help take on some of the duties around the house. Even short breaks a couple of times a week will help you feel better.
Postpartum depression is not your fault. Unfortunately, many women feel guilty or feel ashamed. Some indeed encounter misunderstanding or condemnation from others. Remember that postpartum depression is a violation of the emotional sphere, which requires contacting a qualified specialist for help, like any depression definition. It is vital not to experience it alone and share with your partner. By explaining postpartum depression to them, you will feel more supported. Soon everything will be fine, and you will enjoy each new day spent with your baby.
Betti Wilson is a coach for moms and a mother of three kids. She studied baby, mother behavior, and now teaches moms to deal with all difficulties at the beginning of the new life.
Postpartum anxiety is a common mood disorder that affects up to 15% of new mothers.
Postpartum anxiety is just as common, if not more so, than postpartum depression. It’s seldom discussed and when it is, it’s usually grouped together with postpartum depression as if they’re a package deal. The truth is, women can get BOTH postpartum depression AND anxiety or they can get one of the two.
Here’s what all moms need to know about postpartum anxiety.
What is Anxiety?
Basically speaking, anxiety causes a person to worry. Anxiety, in itself, is a common and natural human reaction. It’s our body’s instinctive way of protecting us from a possible threat. For new and expectant mothers, anxiety is almost expected, and seems to be part of the maternal instinct. We need to worry about our newborn babies in order for them to survive.
An anxiety disorder, however, is different. It’s when you lose your natural ability to stop worrying when the threat has passed. Postpartum anxiety is what it’s called when a women develops an anxiety disorder following the birth of her baby. Women can also suffer from prenatal anxiety during pregnancy. A postpartum anxiety disorder can cause a mother to worry so much that it disrupts her life and affects her health and well being.
Symptoms of Postpartum Anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)
While the symptoms themselves might not seem overly concerning, living with postpartum anxiety can be extremely debilitating. A mother who suffers from postpartum anxiety may suffer from extreme sleep deprivation if she stays up all night worrying or watching her baby breathe. She might start to avoid leaving the house or socializing with friends. The constant worrying, paranoia and intrusive thoughts can take a severe toll on her mental and physical health.
Symptoms of Postpartum OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
Compulsive and repetitive behavior
Scary and intrusive thoughts
Going to extreme lengths to avoid bad thoughts from becoming reality
Becoming obsessed about things like germs, illnesses, death, accidents, etc.
Postpartum OCD is a form of anxiety that manifests as compulsive behavior. It’s similar to other forms of OCD, just in this case, the worries relate to a new baby. For example, a mother suffering from postpartum OCD may clean, wash or sanitize everything obsessively for fear of the baby getting sick. Intrusive thoughts are very common in a mother with postpartum OCD and she may rearrange her entire life in order to avoid bad things from happening, even if they seem like a long shot.
Symptoms of Postpartum Panic Disorder
Feeling light-headed or dizzy
Racing heart beat
Uncontrollable shaking or trembling
Chills or hot flashes
Numbness or tingling in hands, feet or face
Hyperventilating or shortness of breath
*always seek medical care if you are experiencing any kind of chest pain.
A panic attack can feel so bad that it’s often mistaken for a heart attack. It’s important to rule that out, especially if it’s your first panic attack. But if you become prone to panic attacks in the postpartum period, then it’s likely you suffer from a postpartum panic disorder. This is a more intense form of anxiety that can have several effects on a new mother’s life. It can often happen when a mother’s fears become severe and she feels like she has no control over what’s happening.
Are My Worries Postpartum Anxiety?
First of all, having a baby is terrifying. There is a lot worth worrying about. Starting from the moment of conception, you will likely worry about your child their entire lives. So how do you know if your worries are truly postpartum anxiety or just the normal worries that come along with motherhood?
This best way to answer this question is by determining how much your worrying is affecting your life.
Do you avoid leaving the house because you’re worried about your baby getting sick?
Do you lose sleep worrying if your baby is breathing?
Do you avoid driving because you fear getting into an accident with baby?
Is your relationship suffering because you don’t trust your partner with the baby?
Do you panic when you can’t control absolutely everything?
Are you losing weight from worrying so much?
If your entire way of life has changed in order to accommodate your worries, then it could be a sign of a postpartum anxiety disorder. It’s best to keep a journal or workbook to keep track of your worries. Seeing it on paper can help you identify if they’re getting out of control. Even if you’re not sure, speak to your healthcare professional about your worries. If nothing else, they may be able to provide you with some solutions to help ease your anxiety.
Postpartum Anxiety Treatment Options
In the same way that mothers can suffer from both postpartum depression and anxiety, they can also suffer from either one to all three forms of postpartum anxiety. Often, if a general anxiety disorder is not treated in the early stages, it can progressively become worse and worse. That’s why treatment is essential.
There are many treatments available for anxiety, including alternative and natural treatments. You may not find success until you’ve tried several different ones, or a combination of them. Even if you have established a proper treatment plan for your postpartum anxiety disorder, you should never ignore it. Anxiety, like most mental health disorders, is something that can easily be triggered again.
Self Care for Postpartum Anxiety
Living with anxiety can cause a lot of stress and even lead to bouts of depression or other mental illnesses. Practicing self care is extremely important to avoid triggers and relapses. But keep in mind that self care alone may not be enough to eliminate your symptoms. Instead, it should be used in combination with an anxiety treatment plan.
Just as there are good ways to manage symptoms of anxiety, there are also destructive ways. Drugs or alcohol can numb the pain and help you forget your worries, but they only offer temporary relief and do more harm in the long run. Addiction is something that many people with anxiety struggle with, especially those with OCD, as addiction is a type of compulsive behavior. For more information and addiction resources, visit Addictions.com/anxiety-disorders.
Talking About Postpartum Anxiety
Anxiety, in general, is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world. While postpartum anxiety isn’t talked about as often as postpartum depression, that doesn’t mean it isn’t as important or as dangerous to mom and baby’s health.
If you’re suffering from symptoms of postpartum anxiety, including OCD or a panic disorder, make sure to seek help from a qualified professional and establish a treatment plan. Speak up about it with other moms too, and I promise you’ll find that you’re not alone. (If you’re interested in sharing your postpartum anxiety story with us, click here for more info).
Moms have to deal with all kinds of advice when it comes to being a parent.
Many mothers with postpartum depression are told to “fake it ’till you make it” which is a common psychotherapy practice. And in many cases, it’s a great way of building up a person’s confidence and self esteem. But it’s not always the best course of action and can actually be more dangerous than good. There’s a reason why this advice is best given by a licensed therapist and not just anyone on the street.
Here’s some more information about why the “fake it ’till you make it” advice isn’t always best for managing postpartum depression.
What does “fake it ’till you make it” really mean?
It’s all about pretending. Let’s say a new mother is struggling to bond with her baby or feel any emotions other than sadness and despair. She may be given the advice to “fake it ’till you make it.” What it means is that she should pretend to be happy. She should smile and cuddle with her baby as often as possible. The theory is that acting happy will convince her brain that she actually is happy until eventually she’s not depressed anymore.
I know, right? It sounds ridiculous.
But believe it or not, there is some merit behind this advice. It falls into the same category of things like positive affirmations, self help books, pep talks, or other self esteem building activities. They all work by building up our confidence and helping us to feel positive, empowered and worthy. The “fake it ’till you make it” advice basically says that if you want to be happy, you have to do what happy people do.
Why it’s not the best advice for postpartum depression.
While the practice of “faking it ’till you make it” does work for many people, it’s not the best thing to say to a woman suffering from postpartum depression. First of all, it’s dismissive. Telling a new mother simply to “fake it ’till you make it” is kind of like a slap in the face. It can leave her feeling ignored and neglected and makes light of her suffering. Postpartum depression is a major mental health disorder and being told to “fake it till you make it” treats it as no big deal.
The “fake it ’till you make it” advice is often misunderstood.
It’s not at all about faking a state of happiness in front of other people. But this happens too often, especially among mothers. When someone asks us how we feel following the birth of our child, we hide all of our pain and suffering and fake a smile.
Instead, the “fake it ’till you make it” advice should be focused inwards.
The idea is for mothers to act happy in order to train their ownminds and not to convince anyone else. Smiling in the mirror or dancing and singing to music when no one else is around are ways that we can fake a state of happiness for ourselves and no one else.
“Faking it” can also make it difficult to gauge whether or not your condition is getting better or worse.
The lines between real and fake can start to become blurred. This makes it difficult to tell whether the symptoms of postpartum depression are truly improving or not. If you’re planning to “fake it ’till you make it” you still need to be honest about how you are feeling in order to determine if it’s working.
What to try instead.
Boosting your confidence and re-training your brain to focus on the positive are both very important for healing from postpartum depression. But there are lots of ways to do it.
Without the help of a trained therapist, it can be all too easy for a mother to get stuck in this “fake” world. Postpartum depression already has a way of isolating us from the outside world and keeping us apart from our loved ones. When it comes to mental illness, things can get out of control without warning if left untreated. If you’re considering using the “fake it ’till you make it” method for boosting your confidence, do so with caution and preferably with the help and support of a medical professional.
There are several reasons why the holidays aren’t as enjoyable when you have postpartum depression.
In order to get through the holidays with postpartum depression, most women wear a smile for the sake of their families. After all, celebrating the holidays with our children are some of the happiest memories we’ll ever make. But it’s also one of the most stressful times, especially for mothers. They tend to take the lead when it comes to cooking, cleaning, shopping, decorating and wrapping gifts.
If the thought of getting through the holidays with postpartum depression is already stressing you out, check out some of our tips for making it through unharmed.
Start Planning in Advance
The holidays have a way of sneaking up on you. It’s as though you’ve just begun to cope with sending the kids back to school and then suddenly, there are Christmas carols playing on the radio. Feeling the pressure of time running out can have a big impact on our mental health. The best way to avoid the added stress of last minute shopping and decorating is to start planning for the holidays well in advance.
Get your calendar and write out all the important dates. Mark down family dinners, holiday parties, school or work functions, vacation time and anything else happening over the holidays. Once you know these dates, you can start planning meals, gifts, outfits, babysitters, etc. Keep your calendar in sight, even if it’s still a month or two away so that you can mentally prepare for what’s coming up.
Start your holiday shopping early. You always say that you’re going to be one of those people that starts shopping early but end up leaving it until the last minute anyway. Make a list of everyone you need to shop for and carry it around with you whenever you go out. You never know when you’ll stumble across something great. Check out online sales or discount sites like Zulily and sign up for e-mail lists at your favorite stores.
Having a head start is one way to survive the holidays with postpartum depression. Making lists and planning in advance can reduce the amount of stress, sleepless nights and anxiety.
Minimize the Holiday Traditions
Special family traditions around the holidays are what makes this time of the year so memorable. When you think back to holidays as a kid, what were some things that you remember doing every year? Was it waiting up for Santa, baking cookies with grandma or watching a favorite movie? These days, there are so many different traditions that you can start with your kids (especially on Pinterest).
But be careful which traditions you choose to start with your family and don’t try to adopt them all. If you’re not much of a chef, then skip the holiday baking. Or if crafting isn’t your thing, maybe buy a special ornament each year instead of trying to make one. And take it from me, the Elf on the Shelf will use up way too much of your time and energy. (But if you must follow through on this one, here are some adorable ideas using your home security camera!)
Consider sending virtual Christmas cards this year. Buying cards, signing them all and mailing them out can be time consuming and not something a mother with postpartum depression wants to do. But sending a paperless card is both easy and good for the environment. Paperless Post has a huge selection of beautiful holiday cards and invitations, plus you can store all your contact’s e-mail addresses for next year!
If you plan to survive the holidays with postpartum depression, it will mean downsizing the festivities a bit until your symptoms are under control. Having one or two special things that you do together over the holidays is more than enough to make it memorable. Besides, your children would much rather spend time laughing together as a family, than do a bunch of baking and crafts with a stressed out mom.
Set Aside Some “Me” Time
We can’t forget about self care during the holidays. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the spirit of giving that we forget about taking care of ourselves. If you want to make it through the holidays with postpartum depression, you need to take a break every once in a while.
With all the holiday events coming up, book yourself a salon day and get your hair and nails done. If it’s something you splurge on once a year, now is the time to do it. If you’re not sure where to start, chat with a professional Esthetician and get a free serum personalized for your specific skin care needs at Beauty by Design. And don’t forget to put a massage or spa day on your wish list. Winter is also a great time to try out a thermotherapy spa.
With the change in seasons, many mothers with postpartum depression can get hit hard with the winter blues (a.k.a seasonal affective disorder). This makes self care even more important during these colder, shorter days. Make sure that you are getting enough sleep and exposure to sunlight to avoid falling deeper into a depressed state.
Find a Socializing Buddy
As much as you don’t want to do it, socializing is good for you. You may be dreading having to answer the annoying questions that everyone asks new moms, like “is the baby sleeping through the night” or “shouldn’t he be walking yet?” And the thought of having everyone fawning over your baby might be unbearable, even if they are family.
If you truly want to survive socializing over the holidays with postpartum depression, then what you need is a wing-man (or woman). Find your person, the one who is going to help you out through all the holiday socializing. It could be your spouse, sibling, a favorite cousin or friend. It should be someone that you trust and have a great connection with. Tell them what you are going through and ask them to help you out at family functions. If they notice someone annoying you, they can swoop in and save you.
You should never have to battle postpartum depression alone but that doesn’t mean you need to announce your condition at the dinner table. Having just one person who understands how hard this is for you can make it so much easier. And who knows, maybe you’ll even enjoy yourself!
Don’t Avoid the Fun
Celebrating the holidays with postpartum depression is no fun. But that doesn’t mean you should hide away or avoid the festivities. You might think that your presence will just bring everyone down or make others feel awkward and so you decline invitations or leave the party early.
Even if you don’t think you’re much fun, I assure you that others are glad you’re there. Your children, especially, are happier when you are there. So be in the pictures, sit around the fire and join in the dinner conversations, even if you have nothing to say. It’s hard to remember all the days when our kids are young. But you’ll remember the holidays, and so will they.
Ever wonder how I came to write about postpartum depression and act as an advocate for maternal mental health?
For the past couple of years, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with women suffering from all kinds of mental health issues after giving birth. It’s for those women that I write about postpartum depression. I spend my days creating resources, infographics and researching, all the while wishing I had access to this same information when I was heavily battling postpartum depression.
Recently, someone asked me how and why I decided to write about postpartum depression. It got me thinking about my journey to becoming a maternal mental health blogger and advocate.
And so, in keeping with the Running in Triangles tradition, here is my story.
I always wanted to be a writer.
From a young age, I knew that writing was one of my strengths. Not only did it come naturally to me, but I loved doing it. Having the ability to tell an entire story just from words felt like a superpower. The English language gets a lot of criticism for it’s wide array of spellings, meanings, synonyms and slang words. But I think having so many different words to express a single emotion is one thing that makes it great.
Throughout my life, I struggled to find the right path for my writing. Books, journals, diaries, poems, short stories… all started and forgotten about. I knew I wanted to write, I just didn’t know what I wanted to say.
My first mom blog.
In my late teens and early 20’s I took to the internet to showcase my writing on sites such as My Space (and other infamous ones that no longer exist). I enjoyed having a space to write knowing that someone else other than myself might actually read it.
I started my first, real, mom blog in 2013. At the time, I was in the thick of postpartum depression and needed an outlet for my emotions. But I didn’t write about postpartum depression. I wrote about recipes and crafts and funny things my kids did because that’s what all the other mom bloggers were doing.
The story that changed my life.
A few months after starting my fluffy mom blog, a news story from my hometown hit headlines – two young children found drowned in a bathtub and the mother had gone missing. They suspected postpartum depression (or psychosis). I became obsessed with the story and constantly checked for updates to see if she had been found. The online comments were filled with things like “I hope she’s dead” or “what kind of monster does that” and “she doesn’t deserve to be a mother.”
I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t think about anything else other than poor Lisa Gibson and her two babies. I still cry at the mere thought of it. Yes, it’s tragic and heartbreaking, but that’s not the only reason I cry. I cry because it could have been me. At 4 months postpartum, I was fighting suicidal thoughts on a regular basis and imagining drowning my colicky baby in the bathtub. But I was not a terrible mother, I was just sick.
Two days later, Lisa Gibson’s body was found floating in the river. It was a tragic ending but I felt relieved for her. She was finally free of the mental anguish she was likely consumed by. Would she have even wanted to live after finding out what happened? The story tormented me for weeks, and the public reaction was even worse. No matter what I did, I could not silence the voice in my head that kept saying, “do something about this.”
The first time I spoke up.
I couldn’t just sit by and spectate anymore. I knew why people said the things they did… they didn’t understand it. I couldn’t be mad at the online commentators because postpartum depression and other maternal mental health disorders are NEVER talked about. And unfortunately, Lisa Gibson would never get the chance to tell her side of the story.
But I could tell mine.
And that’s what I did. I sat down at my computer and just wrote. Tears streamed down my face as I choked on the giant lump in my throat. I would write something truthful and then immediately delete it. What would people think of me? What would others say? Would they take my kids away if they read this? I would imagine Lisa Gibson floating in the river and I would write it all over again.
Nearly every single sentence had me second guessing the decision to share my story. And every time, I would picture Lisa Gibson or repeat the hateful online comments and push onward. Finally, it was finished but I was struggling to publish it. Once I hit that button – everyone will know. Will people treat me differently? Will I get hateful comments too? I felt sick to my stomach as I hit the “publish” button, but it was done. There was no going back now.
The reaction to my story.
Once my story went live, I thought I would feel better. But it was the opposite. I was consumed by anxiety. I couldn’t sleep. Was this a mistake? Is it too late to take it down? I waited for the mean comments, for the misunderstandings and the judgement.
I got nothing but love.
Those who knew me reached out with complete empathy and the sincerest praise. Friends that I saw in person told me how moved they were by my story. I started to get comments and emails from women who experienced something similar. They all said one in thing in common… “me too.”
Fast forward 5 years later.
After sharing my story, I finally felt fulfilled and stopped writing for a while. I couldn’t go back to blogging about nothing when I had just said so much. I decided to take control of my postpartum depression and began treatment. I even had another baby without experiencing a postpartum depression relapse.
Five years after hitting the publish button on my postpartum depression story, I found myself as a stay at home mom looking for a side hustle. Mom blogs had not disappeared, in fact they seemed to be taking over the internet. Moms were replacing their full time jobs running their own blogs from home. Could a blog be a way for me to turn my writing into a full time career? I had to give it a try.
The Early Days of Running in Triangles
Running in Triangles was initially targeted towards moms of three kids (hence the name). I had learned that, in order to be a successful mom blog, I should write posts that were helpful. So I started by sharing my best advice for sleep training and breastfeeding. They quickly became popular and are still some of my top articles.
Since the blog was now seeing a steady amount of traffic worldwide, I was able to reach a lot more moms with postpartum depression. They started emailing me and commenting about how they related 100% to what I wrote in that post. They said they wanted to speak up about postpartum depression but were too afraid and didn’t know how to begin. So I launched The Postpartum Depression Guest Post Series, making it possible for moms from any background to share their stories in a safe place. The following year, I featured 10 Questions About Postpartum Depression in order to allow even more women to open up about their experience.
The Reason Why I Write About Postpartum Depression
Throughout this journey, I have finally discovered the true path for my writing. I write about postpartum depression to help educate others on what it’s like living with this mental illness. I write for all those mothers who are unable to find the words to say it themselves. I write for those who can’t tell their stories anymore, like Lisa Gibson and countless other women who lost the battle to postpartum depression.
I write about postpartum depression because not enough people do. It needs to be talked about more, to be included in regular conversation. It’s not a bad word or something to be ashamed of. I write for future generations, in the hopes that they will take the time to learn about it and put an end to the stigma of it.
I write about postpartum depression in order to empower women. New mothers should be able to access facts and information, find resources and support groups and know their treatment options. But too often, the medical system fails them. There’s not much I can do to change that, but I can give mothers the tools they need to take their mental health into their own hands.
And at the end of the day, if I’ve saved even one mother from drowning in the river, then it’s completely worth it.
It’s not easy to love a woman with postpartum depression.
We know that it’s tough on the husbands of women with postpartum depression. The same goes for all of the boyfriends, fiances, significant others and baby daddies. Not only are they thrust into this new role of caring for a child, but they’ve had to watch the woman they love suffer, possibly for 9 long months followed by intense labor. And then postpartum depression on top of all of that?
It’s common for new fathers to feel completely helpless when it comes to pregnancy, labor and breastfeeding . If they could carry some of the burden for us, we know they would.
Here are some things that we wish we could say to the husbands of the women with postpartum depression.
We say it all the time, nearly everyday, in every possible situation. But this time, we truly mean it. Thank you from the depths of our soul. Thank you for giving us this incredible gift of motherhood, even if we’d like a refund some days. Thank you for noticing that something wasn’t right. Thank you for cancelling those dinner plans when you knew we didn’t want to go. Thank you for being in our corner. Thank you for completely understanding, without understanding at all.
We need you.
We act like we don’t need you, like we can do everything ourselves and say that we’d be better off on our own. But it’s not true. That’s the postpartum depression talking. We need you now more than you will ever know.
It’s okay if you don’t get it.
How could we ever expect you to understand what it’s like? We know you don’t get it, but we love that you support us anyway. You don’t need to say anything clever or important. Even though it might go against your nature as a man, you don’t need to fix us. It’s okay that you can’t make it better or make it go away. We don’t think any less of you for feeling helpless.
Your role is important too.
Dads simply don’t get enough credit when it comes to parenting. Moms are normally at the forefront of the physical, emotional and mental battle that comes with bringing up children. But we want our husbands to know that their role as fathers are just as important as our roles as mothers.
You may not be able to breastfeed the baby, but supporting us in doing it(or deciding not to do it) helps more than you realize. The way you play with the children when you get home from work makes us feel a little less guilty about ignoring them all day. Your ability to pick up the slack and not make us feel bad about it takes a huge weight off our shoulders. The truth is, we couldn’t do any of this without you.
We’re sorry for yelling at you.
Sometimes you’re just an innocent bystander and sometimes you’ve done something to deserve it, but we get angry a lot these days. It’s harder to control our emotions and it doesn’t take much to make us frustrated, angry, irritated or annoyed. Our crowded, heavy minds don’t even realize how irrational we sound most of the time. We only take it out on you because we trust you. We know that you can handle it and hope you don’t take it personally.
You are our safe place.
All day long we have to be strong and put on a fake smile. And when we finally see you, we let it all out because you are where we feel the safest. We are not afraid to be vulnerable around you because we know how much you love us. It may sound like we’re on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but really, it’s just emotional vomit. We need to get it all out to feel better, and thankfully you’re there to hold back our hair.
We are trying to save you.
We feel like we’re drowning and we don’t want to drag you down with us. We push you away, not because we don’t love you, but because we love you too much to see you suffer. There is no point in both of us being miserable, so instead we keep you at a distance. We are trying to push you further and further away from the dark cloud that follows us.
We really need that self care time.
It doesn’t seem fair because we know everyone enjoys alone time. After a long day of work, we’re sure you need some alone time too. It’s not that we don’t understand that. It’s that working a job and raising kids are two different types of work for you. But for us, it’s the same job over and over and over again, without escape. So being away from the constant chatter of our world is like taking a breath of fresh air after holding it in all day long. Having that time away to do what we need to do makes such a huge difference for us.
None of this is fair.
Why me? Why us? None of this is fair and we both deserve better. Our dream of having a family was so much brighter than this. If we could reverse time and re-do it, would it turn out any different? We don’t know why or how we got postpartum depression. And it wasn’t anything you or I did wrong. But here we are. These are the cards we’ve been dealt.
Please don’t let go.
Somewhere along the path to parenthood we got lost. We will eventually find our way back but it will be so much easier if we do it together. We don’t want you to feel sorry for us, and we don’t want you to treat us any differently. We’re still somewhere inside of here and with a little help, we can be us again. We just need you to hold our hands and never let it go no matter what we do. Because we may do some pretty horrible things that we will come to regret (and please don’t remind us of or punish us for those things once we’re better.)Just stay and be here and listen and love us.
To all the husbands of the women with postpartum depression…
You are our heroes but we don’t treat you like one. We say demeaning things in fits of rage. We confess shocking intrusive thoughts and threaten to do things completely out of character. Perhaps you have a suicide hotline on speed dial or keep a closer eye on us these days. Yes, we are struggling hard to cope with our mental illness and yet, you remain our rock and our beacon of light. We love you for that. We love that you have our backs and that we will never be alone, no matter how lonely we feel. You are important to us, even if we don’t say or show it.