I’m not normally the type of person to make New Year’s resolutions but there is just something about a new year that makes me feel inspired. It’s a great place to start if you’re looking to change your life and that’s exactly what the Running in Triangles blog has been for me.
This month marks the two year anniversary of Running in Triangles and it has been quite a journey. When I first started, I knew that I wanted to talk openly about postpartum depression and help raise awareness about maternal mental health. But I had no idea what an impact it would make on my life and the lives of others.
In 2017, I wrote about all kinds of things I learned while raising my three kids, from sleep training and breastfeeding to party planning. But it was my posts about postpartum depression that gained the most popularity, and the ones I felt most inspired to publish.
I didn’t know it at the time, but those two posts have become the cornerstone content of Running in Triangles. The fact that women don’t talk about postpartum depression was something that needed to change and a big part of the problem is the lack of support.
Their popularity confirmed what I already knew: women with postpartum depression wanted to speak up and their loved ones wanted to help them, but no one knew how or where to begin.
This discovery led to last year’s Postpartum Depression Guest Post Series. It was my way of giving these women a safe space to tell their stories without worrying about being judged or criticized. I accepted and published every single guest post that was submitted, no matter who it was from.
I read about women who spent thousands of dollars on fertility treatments to conceive, and others who ended up pregnant unexpectedly.
I heard from women who had incredibly supportive spouses, and those who suffered from divorce and separation at the hand of postpartum depression.
I watched some women struggle openly and others do everything in their power to hide what they were feeling.
But one thing was the same… their pain.
Knowing that thousands of other women, from all around the world, were dealing with the same pain, no matter their backgrounds, made me feel incredibly empowered; as if I had an army of women behind me who could validate my feelings.
To help put it into perspective, I chose ten questions about postpartum depression and decided to ask as many women as possible to answer them.
I am excited to see how the answers will compare and my hope is that they will prove to other women who might feel isolated and afraid of speaking up that they are not, in fact, alone.
My goal for 2019 is to get at least 200 women with postpartum depression to answer these 10 questions.
If you, or someone you know, has postpartum depression, please click below to submit your answers and help me share this questionnaire so that it can reach women from all around the world.
In addition to this exciting challenge, I hope to continue providing more information about postpartum depression and maternal mental health this year. They say knowledge is power and it couldn’t be more true when it comes to mental health. Being misunderstood, judged and stigmatized are some of the biggest barriers for a woman with postpartum depression and it’s my mission to change that.
Thank you so much to all of my supporters, readers, contributors and of course, to my fellow postpartum depression survivors who inspire me to keep going.
We are all incredible people, no matter what our journey is with postpartum depression.
Some women who end up with postpartum depression have battled mental illness their whole lives. Some may have gone through a depressed period as a teenager or following some tragedy in their lives. Maybe they’ve witnessed a family member deal with it, or experienced some kind of childhood trauma. PTSD can contribute significantly to depression and other postpartum mental health disorders.
But others, like myself, have never faced a childhood trauma or battle with mental illness prior to becoming a mother.
To go from living the “perfect” life to experiencing the darkness that is depression in such a sudden way feels like being buried alive. While I no longer struggle with depression on a daily basis, it’s effects remain permanently. I will forever mourn the loss of the incredible person that I was before postpartum depression took it all away from me.
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
I used to be an incredible person.
I had a really great childhood, with parents who loved me and loved each other.
My sister was my best friend and confidant.
Even as an awkward, mixed-race, home-schooled teenager, I never felt depressed or self-conscious.
I embraced my differences, stood up for others and voiced my opinions.
I loved to take care of people and when I started working, I delivered the type of customer service that got rave reviews.
I worked jobs that I loved and was successful at them.
I almost married the wrong man, but then met and fell in love with the right one and had a fairy tale wedding, just like a cliché romantic movie.
We renovated a house in the perfect neighborhood and got a couple of dogs before a baby soon followed.
Life wasn’t always perfect but it was pretty darn close to what I imagined “happily ever after” would be.
Most of these things haven’t changed.
I still have an amazing husband and a family who love and support me.
I still have the perfect house with the two dogs and three kids.
I still have success doing work that I find rewarding.
Except that now, I have postpartum depression.
It’s been 6 years so I doubt it’s even considered “postpartum” anymore, but I will always refer to it as that. Because until I got pregnant with my second child, I was anything but depressed.
For the past 6 years, I’ve had to fight every single day to be the happy, incredible person I was my entire life.
Things that came so naturally to me, such as talking to people or taking care of myself – are now things that I avoid at all costs.
Shopping dates and salon appointments were something I looked forward to doing with my friends. I loved fashion and beauty to the point of vanity. But these days, I feel zero motivation to get dressed in the morning, so I wear the same sweat pants and stained T-shirt all week long.
And when I do dress up, I criticize everything about myself. I count out grey hairs and wrinkles. I pinch the rolls of skin on my stomach and make disgusted faces in the mirror.
Instead of styling my hair, I fantasize about shaving it all off.
I can’t look people in the eye anymore, or make small talk with cashiers and servers.
When I talk to someone on the phone I stutter and stumble and forget what I was supposed to say.
I silence my phone when it rings because I need to work up the courage to take the call first.
And if I see someone I know out in public, I duck and hide and hope they don’t notice me.
I’ve never felt as much hatred for myself as I do now and I’ve lost all my confidence to postpartum depression.
I feel sorry for the people who have come into my life only after the postpartum depression because they never got the chance to meet the real me.
The fun me, who was hilarious and clever and the life of the party.
The powerful me, who loved to debate about controversial topics.
The competitive me, who hosted game nights and Rock Band showdowns.
The inspiring me, who gave the best pep talks and listened to everyone’s problems with empathy.
Those people will say that I’m still like that, but oh, if they only knew.
Those who did know me before, walk on eggshells around me now, afraid of what might offend me or set me off.
I make people uncomfortable with my presence, because no one is ever sure what to say to someone with a mental illness.
I’ve forgotten how to break that awkward silence with pleasant conversation.
Friends that used to come to me for advice just feel sorry for me now.
They look at me and think I’ve let myself go… that I’ve given up.
But what they don’t see is that I’m fighting a mental battle every single day just to survive.
I loved who I was before postpartum depression.
I was happy and fulfilled and determined before postpartum depression.
I was a people-person, a social butterfly, an extrovert before postpartum depression.
And now, I am merely a shell.
I look the same on the outside, but inside I am hollow and empty. The amazing person that used to live in here is all shriveled up now, unable to move or grow.
Life pushes me along like waves on the ocean, slowly rolling through the days and the months and the years.
I try to stop it, try not to move forward, but there is nothing to hold onto. I am simply grasping at water.
I want to stay still, I want to press pause.
Can someone please put me in a glass box so I can watch life happen around me, without having to actually be part of it?
Participating in my own life is exhausting.
I don’t want it to end because there is a tiny glimmer of hope still inside of me.
I hope that someday I will feel the desire to live again and then I can come out of my glass box.
It’s natural to feel like hibernating when cold weather comes along, but it can also be a symptom of something more complex.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, also called SAD, Seasonal Depression or the Winter Blues, can affect anyone during the winter months (and rarely, even in the summer). It’s a type of depression that is triggered by the change of the seasons and everything that comes with it. The lack of daylight, colder weather, and the increased amount of time spent indoors can all make a person feel depressed.
It’s important to recognize the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and seek treatment for them. Whether you suffer from another type of depression already or this is the only time you experience depressive symptoms, don’t ignore it or brush it off as something minor. Putting up with it for a few months may be a good enough treatment for a while, but depression can be unpredictable. Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and while it might sound extreme, seasonal affective disorder can fall into that category.
Here are seven different ways that you can treat seasonal affective disorder this winter.
1. Exposure to Light
The most common treatment for seasonal affective disorder is light therapy. Since winter is associated with a reduced amount of daylight, it’s believed that this alone can cause seasonal affective disorder in otherwise healthy people. It also explains why it’s more common in those who live farthest away from the equator.
Regular exposure to bright light is a great way to help ease the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. You can purchase one specifically designed for light therapy such as this pyramid shaped one, or this compact travel sized one. But you don’t need to purchase a special light to reap the benefits of light therapy. You can simply keep more lights on in the house and switch to LED daylight bulbs instead.
And don’t underestimate the power of pure sunlight. Since the hours of sunlight during the winter months are limited, make it a point to soak up as much of it as you can. Get outside in the sunlight as often as possible, even if it’s a cloudy day. Exposure to natural sunlight can help boost the production of serotonin, which will make you feel a little less depressed.
2. Eat The Right Foods
One symptom of seasonal affective disorder is a craving for carbohydrates and sugary, sweet foods which often results in weight gain. But choosing the right foods can actually help treat seasonal depression. Complex carbs such as whole grains, fruit, vegetables and beans will still satisfy the craving without the added sugar.
You should also try to eat several foods that contain tryptophan, which can increase serotonin levels. These include foods such as turkey, eggs, salmon, nuts and pineapple. You can also opt for a synthetic tryptophan supplement such as 5-HTP or L-Tryptophan.
Coffee is something that many people, myself included, depend on to get us through each day. But too much caffeine can actually stop our bodies from producing enough serotonin. So while a cup a day is acceptable, try to avoid relying on it too much.
If you’re struggling to eat right, then consider adding an all-natural supplement into your daily routine. Making a simple change to your overall nutrition can work wonders for your mood and energy levels.
The use of essential oils and aromatherapy is a popular one for treating depression including seasonal affective disorder. Our sense of smell has a powerful effect on our brains. By using the right combinations of scents, we can feel happier and healthier with very little effort.
Aromatherapy can also help to treat symptoms of insomnia, which can reduce the production of serotonin. By incorporating essential oils into your everyday self-care routine, you can help keep symptoms of seasonal affective disorder under control.
4. Take A Vacation
For many regular sufferers of seasonal affective disorder, a winter vacation is an annual tradition. Having something to look forward to in the winter can help to ease depressive symptoms. Make sure to choose a location closer to the equator, so that you’re guaranteed plenty of sunshine.
But you don’t have to go somewhere hot and sunny to help treat seasonal affective disorder.A spa vacation is another way to beat the winter blues. You can find a spa close to home and still experience a get-away. Relaxing at a spa and getting massaged and pampered can give you the boost you need to make it through the winter. Check out Spa Finder for some awesome spa packages!
The only downside to a vacation is that it doesn’t last forever. The idea of coming back to the dreary winter after a vacation can cause seasonal affective disorder to hit an all time high. So make the most of your time away, take plenty of pictures and soak in enough sunshine to get you through to the spring.
5. Get Physical Indoors
In the summer time, we’re almost always outdoors doing something. But in winter, it becomes much more of a chore and can even be dangerous to spend an extended period of time outside. This sudden drop in our activity levels and the lack of fresh air can contribute to seasonal affective disorder.
Put some extra effort into getting physical indoors. You can join a gym or sign up for fitness classes. Swim laps at a local indoor pool or simply walk around the mall. Try out a dance class or start taking yoga. There are several things that you can do indoors when the weather isn’t great outside, it just takes a little bit more effort.
Being more (or just as) physical during the winter months as you are in the summer can help eliminate that sudden mood drop when the seasons change. Plus, exercise is a great way to boost endorphin levels, which is an important mood booster!
6. Practice Hygge
Hygge, pronounced ‘HOO-gah’ is a Danish way of life that’s recently become popular in Western culture. It basically refers to anything that makes you feel cozy and comfortable. It’s a simple concept that you’ve probably done before without even realizing. The Danish people have incorporated it into all aspects of their lifestyle and make it a priority, especially in the cooler months.
The nice thing about hygge is that there is no exact science to it. The main goal is to find things that make you feel comfortable, warm and happy and make them a priority in your life. Imagine sitting by a warm fire, cuddled up in a soft blanket with a hot cup of tea. That’s hygge. Or what about binge-watching Netflix and eating popcorn in your pajamas with your best friend? Also hygge.
Making time to practice hygge during the cold, winter months could drastically boost your mood and actually give you something to look forward to.
7. Speak to a Professional
Just like any other mental illness, seasonal affective disorder can have a big impact on your life. Just because it goes away for part of the year doesn’t mean that it’s not a problem. If you’re struggling hard, then consider speaking to a therapist or another health care professional.
Cognitive behavior therapy and anti-depressant medications are available specifically to treat seasonal affective disorder. You can find a therapist online to help you get through this winter and all the future ones.
It’s never too late to start seeking help for seasonal affective disorder. If you realize that this happens to you every year, then be proactive at the end of the summer and take steps to prepare for the grey months ahead.
Treating seasonal affective disorder can feel like we’re fighting our very nature. Like bears who sense the call to hibernate, we stock up on snacks, crawl into bed and dream of sleeping until the snow melts. But if we did that, we’d miss out on a lot of life. Don’t let seasonal affective disorder keep you from enjoying life, especially around the holidays.
The postpartum period is often synonymous with sleep deprivation…
But it’s usually caused by a hungry newborn.
If that baby isn’t causing all kinds of sleep disturbances and mom stillisn’t sleeping, then it could be a case of postpartum anxiety insomnia. Many mothers find themselves unable to sleep due to racing thoughts, unreasonable worries, and the inability to calm their body and mind at night.
Postpartum anxiety is a common condition that can affect a mother’s life in several different ways. She may experience social anxiety and avoid leaving the house or interacting with others. Anxiety can also manifest as anger and cause postpartum rage. Often, mothers experience a combination of postpartum depression and anxiety. But sleep deprivation can exacerbate all of these symptoms and cause even worse ones. There are several ways to treat postpartum anxiety insomnia naturally and stop things from getting out of control.
Here are 15 ways to get a better night’s sleep for moms who are suffering from postpartum anxiety insomnia.
1. Create a Routine
Just like sleep training children, a bedtime routine is important for encouraging proper sleep. Going to bed at the same time each night and performing a few routine tasks will help train your brain and body to know when it’s time to go to sleep. Rewiring the brain altogether is one of the best ways to help fight off postpartum anxiety insomnia.
Keep in mind that it may take a while for your body to adjust to the routine. Depending on how bad your postpartum anxiety is, it could take months before you can regularly get a good night’s sleep. And since postpartum anxiety can be a life-long battle, you should be prepared to make your bedtime routine permanent.
Social media is a huge contributor to postpartum anxiety insomnia. Scrolling through Facebook or watching Netflix before bed will only fuel your racing brain with more needless worries and thoughts. Make a plan to unplug from technology at least 1 hour before bed. Turn off the TV and switch your phone to Do Not Disturb mode so that notifications aren’t disturbing you in the middle of the night.
But if the thought of “working out” is causing you even more anxiety, then save it for the morning instead. You can still get a serotonin boost by doing a few simple stretches. Stretch your neck and shoulders, bend over and touch your toes or sit against a wall for a few seconds. Postpartum anxiety causes a lot of tension in the muscles and stretching those out before bed will help you feel more relaxed.
4. Take a Hot Shower
A hot shower is a great way to calm down before bed. The steam and heat combined with the gentle massage of the water beating down will relax the muscles and help open up the lungs. A massaging shower head is a bonus but not necessary. This can be especially welcome if you’re feeling over touched at the end of the day.
Don’t feel obligated to do anything else except just stand under the water and enjoy it. A hot bath can work in the same way, if you have the time. Throw in some Epsom salts for an added boost of magnesium to help relax sore muscles, fight off depression and induce sleep.
5. Sip Some Tea
There are several herbal teas that can help fight postpartum anxiety insomnia.Chamomile and Valerian Root are the most popular bedtime teas and for good reason. Green tea, ginger tea and other blends are all great too! Experiment with different flavors and combinations to find out what works. Even some plain hot water with a slice of lemon will help you detox before bed. As long as it’s hot and caffeine-free, it will help to calm and soothe your body from the inside.
Meditation is not for everyone. But if you’re dealing with a case of postpartum anxiety insomnia, it might help to try to cleanse your brain of the millions of thoughts floating around in there.
There are actually a few different ways to meditate. You can try using a guided meditation app to help you get started. It’s also easy to practice self-guided meditation by setting a timer for a few minutes and sitting quietly as you work on eliminating all the thoughts from your brain. Meditating before bed is a way to manage your anxiety before your head hits the pillow, so that once it does – you will actually be able to sleep.
7. Invest in a Good Mattress
Sometimes it’s not the postpartum anxiety alone that is causing insomnia. A good night’s sleep begins with comfort and your mattress has a lot to do with it. But mattress shopping can be really tricky (I know this because I used to sell them for a living!) Lying down on a mattress in a showroom for a few minutes is very different than sleeping on it all night long. You can try several different ones but eventually they all start to feel the same. And then, once you get that mattress home with you – what happens if you don’t like it after a few nights – or worse, after a few months?
The key to making an important purchase such as a mattress is to look for one that will guarantee you a good night’s sleep. Unlike big box stores, mattress companies that sell their products directly will offer a better satisfaction guarantee and stand behind their product. The Nectar mattress, for example, offers a lifetime warranty, free shipping and is the only one I have seen that offers a free trial for an entire year!
Weighted blankets are all the rage right now. They have proven benefits to reduce symptoms of anxiety and help improve sleep. The best part is, they’re a simple tool that doesn’t require anything other than just cuddling up and getting comfortable.
The simple science behind a weighted blanket is that it creates a sensation of safety, similar to being hugged or held. The heavier the blanket, the more it stimulates your skin and sends messages to your brain that you are safe and protected. This allows the brain to stop worrying and rest for a while.
Consider purchasing one through Weighted Comforts. Not only do they offer a wide variety at competitive prices, but they’re also sewn by refugees living in the U.S.
9. Grow a potted plant
There are several plants that encourage a proper sleep environment. Having a potted plant on your nightstand or anywhere in your bedroom can purify the air and rid it of any toxins or negative energy. Some plants with scented flowers, such as lavender and jasmine, can actually induce sleep. This is a beautiful and easy way to encourage your mind to feel at ease enough to sleep.
Don’t feel intimidated if you don’t have much of a green thumb. Start with one plant and research it to find out how to take care of it. Many houseplants are low maintenance, so as long as you don’t completely neglect them, they will thrive. Be warned though, growing houseplants can become a very addicting hobby…
10. Start sniffing
Using scents is an easy way to transition the brain into a relaxed state.The National Sleep Foundation even suggests using scents to help you get a better night’s sleep. In order to battle a case of postpartum anxiety insomnia, you should consider everything that you are inhaling in your bedroom – from dust and allergens that could be trapped in your carpet or mattress, to the fabric softener you use on your sheets.
There are several different ways to incorporate scents to help your mind and body relax so that you can not only fall asleep… but stay asleep! Scents that are good for relaxation and inducing sleep include Lavender, Vetiver, Cedarwood, Valerian and Frankincense, but the list goes on. You can try these in an essential oil(either a roll-on or in a diffuser), a linen spray, candles or scented satchets. You can even purchase Lavender-scented fabric softener to use on your sheets!
11. Try some background noise
One of the biggest problems with postpartum anxiety insomnia is the brain being unable to stop spiraling at nighttime. Something worth trying is distracting the brain through the use of background noise, such as gentle instrumental music or white noise like rain sounds. You could purchase a sound machine, but there are also several white noise playlists on Spotify. There are even apps that you can download that have a large selection of different sounds as well as other sleep aid features.
12. Don’t be afraid of the dark
Our brains are hardwired to associate sleep with darkness. With postpartum anxiety insomnia, it’s easy to look around the room and find a hundred other things to worry or think about. Reduce the amount of outside stimulation by making your bedroom completely dark. You can install blackout blinds or wear a sleep mask. Eliminate anything that your eyes can focus on, so cover up the blinking light on the TV and turn your digital clock around. If you start to feel anxious in the darkness, remind yourself that you can turn on a light whenever you want to, and that you are in complete control.
13. Keep a bedside journal
It’s true that we often think of the most important (or completely unimportant) things while we’re lying in bed. The thought of possibly forgetting about it in the morning can cause a certain level of anxiety and disrupt our sleep.
Writing in a journal or worry workbook before bed can help to eliminate some of the extra thoughts in our heads, but often we have a brainstorm as we’re lying in bed trying to fall asleep. So keep a journal or notepad and pen beside your bed so that when these seemingly important thoughts come to mind in the middle of the night, we can write them down, go back to sleep and know they will be there in the morning.
14. Increase melatonin levels
Melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone that is naturally produced by our bodies. For a woman with postpartum anxiety, those hormone levels could be out of balance causing the insomnia. While melatonin supplements are readily available, they run the risk of causing side effects, just as with any other drug. They could also cause problems if a mother is on anti-depressants, anti-anxiety meds or breastfeeding. If you plan to start a melatonin supplement for postpartum anxiety insomnia, always check with your doctor first. However, there are ways of increasing your melatonin production naturally.
A lot of it has to do with diet. Foods that are rich in magnesium can help your body produce more melatonin. Pineapples, oranges, bananas and tart cherries are also rich in natural melatonin and make great bedtime snacks.
Have you ever thought about having to talk to your kids about postpartum depression?
When I was first diagnosed with postpartum depression 6 years ago, I was glad that my newborn baby would never remember the dark things I said or did during that time. My oldest child was 2 years old at the time, and I did my best to hide my sadness from him. For years, I put on a fake smile around my children, family, friends and especially around strangers.
I didn’t want anyone to know that I had postpartum depression, most especially my children.
But since then, I’ve realized how harmful hiding my postpartum depression is. I was lying to myself and everyone around me and there was no way I could get better without first being honest. Keeping silent about postpartum depression also meant that I was enabling the stigma to continue. I was upset about how women with postpartum depression were being treated, but I was doing absolutely nothing about it.
As my kids got older, I continued to suffer from postpartum depression relapses. They were no longer babies who didn’t know what was happening. They saw me struggle and watched me cry. They were afraid to talk to me when I was in a bad mood. They learned how to pour a bowl of cereal and turn on the TV by themselves because there were so many days that mom just couldn’t get out of bed. The most heart-breaking part is that they thought it was all their fault.
Here are some tips on how to talk to your kids about postpartum depression.
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust. Furthermore, I am not a medical professional and nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. I am simply a mother who has been there and lived to tell the tale.
Use Age-Appropriate Language
I first spoke to my older two children a few years ago. We often joked about how much my daughter cried when she was a baby, and I didn’t want her to grow up with a complex. I would say that “mommy had a really hard time but it wasn’t your fault.” At the time, she was 3 and her brother was 5, so I wasn’t sure how much they would actually comprehend. I used age-appropriate words such as “boo-boos in mommy’s brain” rather than “mental health disorder.”
As they got older, we continued to talk about it and the words changed. I never shy’d away from the term “postpartum depression” even though it was a big word for them. It was important for them to understand the word and get used to it. I even made them repeat it a few times to get the pronunciation right.
One term that has been steadily used over the years is “bad days.” The kids know that sometimes Mommy has “bad days” but we get to start over again each morning. We often talk aboutways to make more “good days” happen.
The one question my kids wanted to know was “why”(them and thousands of others). Unfortunately, I didn’t have an answer for them, and they were OK with that.
I explained that doctors and scientists were working very hard to figure out why because if they do that, then maybe they can find a way to stop it from happening. I also explained about how I spit in a tube and mailed it to those doctors and scientists to help them figure out why. They were very interested in that, but mostly about how gross mailing my spit was.
I encourage them to ask as many questions as they can think of, and I try my best to find answers for them. Now that I am a maternal mental health blogger, I have access to a lot of resources and information about postpartum depression. I make it my mission to share those resources, because once, I was a very lost parent with a lot of questions that I didn’t have the answers to.
If you’re planning to talk to your children about postpartum depression, it might be worth it to invest some time in research. Kids are excellent at asking questions that you never would have thought of.
Don’t Place Blame
It’s normal to blame postpartum depression on pregnancy and childbirth, but that can often lead children to believe that they did this to you. The last thing you want is for your children to think that any of this is their fault.
Perhaps it was the act of pregnancy and childbirth that triggered the depression, but it also could have been triggered by any traumatic, hormonal or emotional experience. Postpartum depression is not unlike a general depression or anxiety disorder that many people battle their entire lives. It can also resemble depression following PTSD. There are so many different types of mental health disorders, all of which are important to discuss with your children.
Instead of blaming motherhood for postpartum depression, talk about how having your child changed your entire life, and make sure your child knows that they were worth it.
Keep a Journal
Writing about your struggle is another way to talk to your kids about postpartum depression. While your child is very young, keep a journal or write letters to them to help you talk to them when they are older. It can also be a form of therapy to write out your feelings and you can decide which parts of it you would like to share with your children as they grow up.
You could even consider starting your own blog. I hope that one day, when my kids are older, they will be able to read all the articles on this blog and get some more insight into what being a mother with postpartum depression was truly like.
A firsthand account of your experience with postpartum depression is not only the best way to share your story with your children, but a great keepsake for yourself once you have survived the worst of it.
Consider the Future
I often wonder if my own daughters might suffer from postpartum depression upon becoming mothers themselves one day.
My own mother never mentioned anything about it to me and therefore I felt greatly unprepared when it hit me. In fact, one of the questions I was asked upon being diagnosed was whether or not there was a family history of depression, and truth be told – I had no idea!
I also would have loved it if my husband knew how to support me better, though he did the best he could with the information he had. This is why it is so important for me to raise my son with the knowledge and ability to support the women in his life who end up suffering from postpartum depression.
If we truly believe in breaking down the stigma around postpartum depression then our daughters and sons need to be educated about it for one day, they will be parents of their own.
It can’t be taboo anymore. Women are hiding their pain, ashamed of what is happening to them. They are dying – killing themselves, in fact, because they just can’t cope with it. And everyone around them ends up shocked because they didn’t see it coming.
Postpartum depression and mental health issues need to be normalized among the next generation. Children are a blank canvas who only know what we teach them. And we need to teach them about the symptoms of postpartum depression and how to help someone who is suffering. We need to raise empathetic children who understand that mothers with postpartum depression are not bad people.
Talking about postpartum depression on a regular basis will eventually make it a normal part of the conversation, and not something dark and scary.
We need to talk openly and comfortably about it, so that our children will also feel comfortable talking about it.
Postpartum depression sucks. Your children know this already. What they need you to tell them is that there is hope for the future. That it WILL get better.
Don’t focus on talking about postpartum depression as a disease. Talk about it as something that makes you fight to be stronger.
Share your treatment plan with them, and let them know what they can do to help you have more “good days.” Find ways to do things together to help your postpartum depression, such as yoga or meditation.
Your children need to know that you WANT to get better. They need to see you trying to heal. So if it means that you need to take some extra time away from them to take care of yourself, explain that to them. Don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed and frustrated and scream “I just need 5 minutes alone!!!” Explain it to them before you get to that point and avoid the frustration altogether. It will make for a more positive experience.
It’s alright to let your children see you struggle. They need to know that it’s acceptable to feel down or depressed, as long as you have a plan to get out of the dark place eventually.
Before you can talk to your child about postpartum depression, it’s important to get educated first, whether or not you suffer from it yourself. Thankfully there are more women than ever before choosing to speak up about their personal experiences.
Bear in mind that deciding to talk to your kids about postpartum depression is not going to be a one-time discussion. It’s a conversation you will likely need to have over and over again as they grow. Start a journal now, in which you can write out what you want to say and keep track of questions that might come up.
Discussing postpartum depression and mental health openly and comfortably will ensure that you raise children who are empathetic and inclusive, which are amazing qualities the entire future generation should possess.
Here’s a peek at the discussion I had with my own kids about postpartum depression.
Download a FREE PDF Postpartum Depression Questionnaire for Kids!
This list of 10 questions will help you talk to your kids about postpartum depression, self care and how to handle our feelings. It’s designed to be used by anyone, whether you are directly affected by postpartum depression or not.
This questionnaire is available for download in the:
Writing about scary thoughts and feelings has several great benefits for a mother struggling from a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder.
And what better outlet than to start blogging about postpartum depression? Thanks to modern technology it is easier to start a blog now, than ever before. And with all the choices available, you can choose whether you’d like to remain private or whether you’d like your voice to be heard around the world.
Blogging about postpartum depression not only has benefits for a suffering mother. It’s also an excellent way to help raise awareness about maternal mental health and break down the stigma that exists around it. The more women who are speaking up about postpartum depression and other mood disorders following childbirth, the better.
If you’re interested in learning how to start your own mental health blog and speak your truth, here is a quick tutorial on how to start blogging about postpartum depression.
*This post contains affiliate and/or paid links which means that if you click on one of these links and buy a product, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I love from companies that I trust.
Shortly after I was officially diagnosed with postpartum depression, my husband, toddler, infant and I packed up all our belongings and moved 900 kms away from our hometown. We left behind all our friends and family and had no idea how difficult our lives would be over the next few years.
If there is one thing that a woman with postpartum depression desperately needs, it’s a good support system… and I just didn’t have one.
I moved to a small town where I knew no one, had no job or prospect of one, had no babysitters or daycare arrangements and was a good three hour drive from a major city. Isolated and alone, my postpartum depression grew worse with each passing day.
But there was one thing I knew that I could do, even if I had no one to talk to. I could write about it.
That’s how I started blogging about postpartum depression.
I started my first blog using a free Blogger account because I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn’t thinking about making money or getting followers – I just wanted to write about what I was feeling and share my story.
At first, I didn’t write about postpartum depression. I needed a way to work up to that. I wrote about other random things that my kids did or things I learned along my parenting journey. Eventually, I got a new job and made some new friends and I started to feel more confident.
So one day, I sat down at my computer and I poured out my story. 100 edits later, I published it to my blogger account and shared it on Facebook for all to see.
I was overwhelmed by the response. I started to get messages, both from close friends offering words of encouragement and support, and from contacts whom I barely knew, confiding in me about their own struggle with postpartum depression. One of my new friends in my new town saw me the next day and told me that she cried reading my story and felt so much closer to me, knowing that we shared a similar experience.
That feeling of empowerment has stuck with me for years.
After that blog post, I didn’t feel the need to write anymore. Once I said my piece and shared what was bottled up inside of me, I felt better. Over the next few years, I focused on my new career, moved a couple more times, and had another baby. I remembered to take care of myself and kept busy and distracted. All the while, the postpartum depression started to become a bad memory.
A couple years ago, I began to suffer badly from a condition called endometriosis. I wrote more about my battle with it here. The chronic pain caused a major relapse of my postpartum depression symptoms and I needed anti-depressants just to function. It was at this point that I realized – postpartum depression never really goes away.
While researching information about endometriosis, I came across a lot of information about maternal mental health. In all the years since I first suffered from postpartum depression, there didn’t seem to be any forward progress on the way women were treated or how it was talked about. There was still so much stigma and too many women dying or hiding their feelings. I just knew that I had to do something about that.
And so I began Running in Triangles. I knew that I wanted to start blogging about postpartum depression again but I put some more effort and forethought into what kind of site I wanted. This time, it wasn’t just about needing an outlet for my own feelings – it was about getting information and resources to the women who needed it the most.
If you would like to start blogging about postpartum depression, here’s what I recommend you do:
Step 1: Write Your Blog Posts
Yes, that’s right, start writing your blog posts before you even purchase your domain name. Having a few blog posts ready to publish as soon as your blog is active means a little less pressure on yourself to come up with new content regularly. It will also give your readers a few posts to read right away. Write them out using Microsoft Word or Google Docs so that you can easily cut and paste them once you’ve launched your blog.
Start by writing some sort of introduction about yourself. Tell your story – whether in depth or just a brief summary for now. But don’t be afraid to make it known that you are writing about your experience with postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, psychosis and/or whatever else ails you.
Think of your blog as a safe space. Share as many or as few details about yourself as you like. You can write under a “pen name” instead of using your own, or simply use your first name only. Blogging about postpartum depression can make a person feel vulnerable and requires a certain level of openness. Writing out what you want to say BEFORE launching a blog can help you to get comfortable with that.
Step 2: Purchase Web Hosting
A web hosting service is like your blog’s engine and it keeps everything running smoothly. Running in Triangles is hosted by Siteground, and I would definitely recommend it! The odd time I needed technical support, they were so helpful and quick to respond.
WordPress.org is a self-hosted blogging platform. It’s the exterior of your blog and the place where you publish content and make it look pretty.
If you’re computer illiterate and would prefer something all-in-one that’s already set up for you, and requires very little maintenance, then a basic platform like WordPress.com* or Blogger will work. You don’t need to purchase additional web hosting, but you will also be very limited in what you can do with it. Unless you go self-hosted, you won’t be able to monetize your site or add extra plug-ins to make it unique.
*Wordpress.com is different from WordPress.org, so don’t get the two confused. Check out this info-graphic that explains some of the major differences.
WordPress.org is actually very user friendly but it can feel intimidating at first. The first thing you will want to do is choose your theme. Your theme sets the tone for the way your site looks. WordPress.org offers a variety of free themes, but you can also purchase a custom made one on Etsy.
Thankfully, WordPress.org offers a lot of support for beginners. If you’re ever unsure of how to do something, check out their Getting Started Menu to find tutorials and answers to frequently asked questions.
Another design element that you will need for your blog is photos. Photos are a great way to get your message across and help break up long paragraphs of words. If you’re not much of a photographer, or would prefer to keep personal photos off the internet, then consider using free stock photo sites such as Unsplash, Splitshire, Pixabay or KaboomPics.
To edit your photos and create graphics for use on your website, use free image editing sites such as Canvaor PicMonkey.
Step 5: Network
The community of mental health bloggers is one of the most supportive ones you can find. You can expect to connect with others who have been through similar experiences, and they are generally pretty supportive no matter what your story is. Mental health bloggers don’t look at each other as competition and are always looking to share posts that speak the truth about mental health disorders. Whether you are blogging about postpartum depression, anxiety or another mood disorder – connect with the mental health community to help your voice be heard!
If you plan to recommend products and services that have helped you along your journey, then consider joining some affiliate programs. Check out Shareasale, CJ affiliates or Awin. If you’re serious about affiliate marketing and want to use it to monetize your blog, then I recommend taking theMaking Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. It contains everything you could possibly want to know about how to make affiliate marketing work for you.
Once you’ve started blogging about postpartum depression – come find me! I would be more than happy to share some of your links, add you to groups, and help you get in contact with mental health bloggers and networks. You don’t need to be alone in this and if you truly feel a desire to start speaking up about postpartum depression, I am here to help!
Leave a comment below with your blog URL and I’ll make sure to check it out!
Postpartum depression, like many mental illnesses, has a way of making a woman feel suicidal.
For a person who has never suffered from mental illness, it’s almost impossible to understand why a mother would want to abandon her children in such a way. But a woman who has suffered from postpartum depression, anxiety, psychosis or other mental illness will tell you that it’s not about that at all.
The misconception about mothers who are suicidal is that they are “giving up.” In reality, many mothers see it as a way to free their children, spouse, loved ones, etc., from the pain that they are causing. It is the ultimate sacrifice for someone else’s happiness.
Despite what the reason is behind it – it is completely extreme and unnecessary. Any person in their right mind would realize that. Right mind being the key word here.
So what is a mother to do when postpartum depression makes her feel suicidal?
Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide. Do not let postpartum depression get out of hand, and don’t expect it to get better without treatment. I realize it’s hard to ask for help, in fact, I’ve written several times about all the reasons why mothers don’t speak up about postpartum depression, so if anyone understands, it’s me. But there’s a big difference between feeling ashamed and feeling suicidal. If there was ever a time to speak up about postpartum depression, it’s now.
The only way to avoid suicidal thoughts and tendencies caused by postpartum depression is to begin a treatment plan.
If you think you have postpartum depression, speak to your doctor. If your doctor is not available in the near future, or you simply don’t feel comfortable speaking to your doctor about it for whatever reason – then try contacting your local public health nurse, find a therapist or mental health center. And if all else fails, head to an urgent care center or the ER. But don’t give up seeking help just because your doctor isn’t available, there are so many other options available.
If you don’t get the help you need, keep looking. It’s sad that I even need to include this as an option but it’s so common for women with postpartum depression to get brushed off by the health care system. If you’re told that “it’s nothing” or “it’s just sleep deprivation” or “this is normal motherhood” and you truly don’t agree – then get a second opinion.
“They would be better off without me” should be the slogan for postpartum depression considering how many women have said it, myself included.
Postpartum depression is notorious for reducing a woman’s self-esteem and sense of self worth. This opens the door for suicidal thoughts. To make matters worse, others often tell us things like “don’t worry, you’re a great mom” or “you should give yourself more credit” thinking that they are helping, when really, it just invalidates our feelings.
In order to see your life as worth living, you need to focus on how you feel about yourself.
Consider all the things that you once loved about yourself, and that you will love again. Like your ability to win arguments or make people feel comfortable around you. Maybe it was how others came to you for fashion or relationship advice. These are things you can look forward to again when you get the postpartum depression under control.
Make a list of some of your best qualities. Do you have the best smile? Great hair? Eyes that sparkle? Or is it your excellent sense of humor or party planning skills? What makes you stand out among the rest?
Think of a time that you made others laugh, or helped someone who was hurt. You have the power to affect another person’s life in a way they may never forget. Try surrounding yourself in positive images or create a self-care sanctuary that you can escape to when you’re feeling low.
Look at pictures of your pregnancy, some of your happiest memories, vacations or family holidays. What would those pictures look like without you in them? There would be a big empty hole where you belong.
Scroll through old Facebook or Instagram posts and remember who you were before postpartum depression. You have changed, and it’s unlikely you will ever be the same person again. But it helps to remember who you once were and know that your life is just as important now as it was then.
Maybe we’re not the ideal mothers we thought we would be, but no one ever is – even the ones without postpartum depression. The truth is, our children would much rather have a sad mother around than no mother at all.
Make a plan
No, not a suicide plan. A plan for the future.
It’s hard to imagine a future when you’re in the depths of postpartum depression, but I promise you – it’s there. Each climb that you take upwards out of the deep, dark pit of despair brings you closer to the light. And if you can see the light – even if it’s just a tiny speck like a distant star in the night sky, then you can climb towards it. That tiny speck of light is your future and the higher you climb, the closer you get to a brighter future.
Having a plan can remind you that the future does exist.
Set realistic goals with dates to achieve them by. These can include things like finishing a book or learning a new skill. Try to avoid putting things like weight loss on there as those are almost impossible to achieve and can be discouraging.
Make a bucket list. What are some things that you’ve always wanted to do before you die? It doesn’t have to be the usual big ones like skydiving or cliff-jumping. Think of anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to do in your lifetime and put it on the list.
Create a self-care schedule. Self-care is the latest buzz word these days, and there’s a good reason for that. Mothers need to make time for themselves otherwise bad things like suicidal thoughts can happen. Schedule yourself some time to take care of yourself and don’t put it off. Postponing things just for you signal your brain that you are not as important as the other things happening around you.
Meet with a financial adviser. No, not to “get your affairs in order” but rather, to make a financial plan for the future. Find out how to save and manage your money to make sure it will last. Financial problems can cause a lot stress and suicidal behavior. Having a financial plan for the future can help you feel more prepared for the road ahead. You can start getting your finances organized by downloading a Finance Tracker kit from Shine Sheets.
Suicidal tendencies are only one of the many nasty symptoms of postpartum depression. Women also have to deal with postpartum rage, intrusive thoughts and a whole slew of physical pain as well. Even with a treatment plan in place, it is likely something that mothers will have to battle their entire lives.
The key to keeping postpartum depression symptoms under control is avoiding the things that trigger it, such as stress, illness, sleep deprivation or the winter blues.
Since it’s impossible to avoid triggers 100% of the time, it’s important to follow your treatment plan and make sure you are open about what you’re feeling with your loved ones. Recruiting help to manage your symptoms and triggers will make sure that you continue down the right path.
Talk to Someone
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, it’s important to talk to someone about them. When someone commits suicide, those closest to them often swear that they had no idea what they were going through. Don’t let that be you.
You have several options for who to talk to if your postpartum depression is making you feel suicidal.
Your closest person. This could be your spouse or partner, a sibling, friend or parent… whoever you feel the closest to and most comfortable with. They are often the best person to tell first, because if they have been paying attention to your behavior – maybe they already suspect that someone isn’t quite right.
A therapist. Therapists are trained to handle situations where people feel suicidal. They know what to say and what not to say. They also understand where the feelings stem from and won’t judge you for expressing your feelings. Online therapy is an option worth considering if you’re worried about the trouble of finding a therapist and making appointments.
A support group. Sometimes all we need is a sounding board and someone who can relate. Joining a postpartum depression support group, whether in-person or online, is a safe place where we can open up about feeling suicidal and not be condemned for it. Many mothers have been there too and will gladly give you advice or encouragement.
A crisis center.Crisis centers are designed specifically for handling emergent situations where you feel like you have no where else to turn. Many of them have the ability to dispatch help locally if they feel it is required (similar to calling 9-1-1). But they will also listen to you and provide you with advice and resources.
Or – you can talk to me! I’m here to help, after all. I’m a stranger who doesn’t know anything at all about you except that I have once been there too, so I will never judge you, ignore you or invalidate your feelings. In fact, I would treat you exactly the way I wished someone would have treated me when I needed them to. I DON’T have any formal medical training but I DO have access to a lot of resources that I would be more to happy to share with you.
If you are feeling suicidal and need someone to talk to, use the confidential contact form below *
Your information will never be published or shared
*Alternatively, you can email me at email@example.com
Suicide is not a choice that a woman with postpartum depression makes, but rather something that happens to her. It’s the result of an illness in the brain that tells us lies and forces us to attack our own bodies. Women with postpartum depression are exhausted, chemically imbalanced, overwhelmed and in physical pain, so when the brain sneaks in and whispers “just end it” – it sounds like a good idea at the time.
I hope, with every fiber in my being, that you find your true worth and value, remember that you are loved and cherished and know that suicide is not the best option.
Too many mothers with postpartum depression or anxiety put off seeking help or getting the care they need.
One reason for this is because they just don’t know where to go or who to talk to. And even if they did know, the idea of leaving the house for appointments can be both inconvenient and terrifying. The good news is that, thanks to modern technology, there are many ways for a mother to get online help for postpartum depression from the comfort of her own home. Not only is it convenient, but it makes it easier to find the right person to speak to. Instead of having to rely on resources available locally, women now have access to an international panel of experts.
Here are a few different ways that mothers can access online help for postpartum depression.
1. Try Online Therapy
One of the best ways for moms to get help for postpartum depression is by speaking to a therapist. But it’s also something that many women avoid doing for several reasons:
It’s tough to arrange for childcare during appointments, especially with a brand new or exclusively breastfed baby.
There is a lot of stigma around “going to therapy” that may deter a mother from choosing to do it in public.
With so many horror stories of mothers being treated like criminals, they may avoid speaking to someone without knowing how that person will react first.
Finding the right therapist can be difficult. It sometimes requires a referral from a doctor, which can delay the process.
Having to make phone calls to set up appointments, get dressed to go out, interact with others socially and feel judged by everyone along the way is an exhausting task for mothers with postpartum depression.
Mothers don’t always feel at their worst between 9 – 5, Monday to Friday. Some therapists might offer an emergency number to call but that would mean inconveniencing someone and mothers aren’t usually down for doing that, no matter how bad it gets.
Signing up for online therapy can solve so many of these problems. Online therapy is convenient, affordable and private. There are several different companies that offer online therapy, ranging from traditional therapy sessions to something more interactive.
Online-Therapy allows you to work on cognitive behavior therapy at your own pace. You complete various reading sections and worksheets, like chapters in a text book. Your therapist guides you along the way, providing feedback on your answers and offers support via live chat or e-mail. You also get a variety of other tools and resources at your disposal, 24/7. You can access an online forum for therapy members, yoga and meditation videos, workbooks and more. You get so much more than just a therapy session, and you can do it all right from home.
BetterHelpis a popular online therapy company that works hard to match you with the right counselor. You can complete the online questionnaire as the very first step so that your therapist will have some information about your condition ahead of time.
eVideo Counseloris another great option for moms suffering from postpartum depression. Through their sessions, you can video chat directly with a licensed and HIPAA compliant therapist. You schedule your appointments just like any other therapist office but speak to your therapist using your computer or cell phone. The sessions are much more like traditional therapy sessions and your therapist can send their notes to your doctor for followup.
2. Make a Phone Call
Sometimes, when you are having a really bad day, you just need to talk to someone who understands. A helpline is designed specifically for that purpose. While not technically considered online help for postpartum depression, it’s still something that you can do from the comfort of your own home and have access to 24/7.
If you are having suicidal thoughts and need to speak to someone urgently:
On the Befrienders Worldwide website, you can search for suicide helplines by country. The website is also available in different languages and provides resources and information about mental health.
For general information, support and resources:
Call thePostpartum Support International’s Helpline1-800-944-4773 (4PPD). It’s a messaging system so you would have to leave a message and then someone would get back to you as soon as possible. It is NOT meant for emergencies, but rather, to find out where and how to get help.
3. Send a Text Message
Texting is a newer way that moms can get online help for postpartum depression and many support groups are making this an option. It is so much easier for a mother battling a mental illness to send a text message when she’s overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings, rather than speak to someone over the phone or face to face.
In the US:
Text HOME to 741741 for any type of crisis and a trained counselor from the Crisis Text Line will respond 24/7.
Text HOME to 686868to access the Crisis Text Line in Canada. This text line is managed by volunteers and is a division of the Kids Help Phone.
Text Crisis Services Canada at 45645anytime between 5 pm and 1 am and get a response from someone at the crisis center. A live chat option is also available on their website (also between 5 pm and 1 am).
Many local support groups also offer their own text line, so make sure to find out what they are and store them in your phone for emergencies.
4. Join a Facebook Support Group
Facebook support groups are a great way to get online help for postpartum depression. Not only will you be able to find some posts that you relate to, but you’ll see that you’re not alone in your struggles.
If you’re not big on communicating with strangers, it helps just to read some of the posts and comments. If you have a particular question, you can search for it in the group and see if someone else has already asked about it. It’s a great resource to get peer support and advice for postpartum depression and anxiety.
Some of the groups that I’m in and would recommend:
If you have a question about treatment options, symptoms, previous experiences – this is the place to go to get your questions answered. PSI’s support group is a mix of health care professionals, therapists, sufferers and survivors. If you have a question about anything related to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, you will find it here.
This group is a very supportive one and the perfect place to go and vent about what you’re feeling. If you just need someone to talk to or share your story with someone who will understand, then the women in this group are here for you.
What I love about this smaller group is that you really get the chance to connect with other members. If you’re seeking more than just a sounding board, and hoping to make friends and build a support system to help you through this difficult time, then consider joining this group.
5. Hire a Postpartum Doula
A postpartum doula is someone who comes to your house after you have a baby specifically to help you out. They are not like a nanny, in that, they are there to support you and not simply to take care of the baby and the house. They are trained to recognize the early symptoms of a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder and can direct you where to get help. Most can be hired to work a night shift so that you can get the sleep you desperately need. I consider this a form of online help for postpartum depression because searching various websites is generally the best way to find the right doula for you.
There are several websites you can use to find a doula in your area:
You can search a database of over 10,000 doulas in Canada and the US and the best part is that you can enter the dates when you would need their services to make sure that they are available before contacting them.
6. Download an App
There are so many apps available to help with almost any kind of problem you’re experiencing. Online help for postpartum depression in the form of an app is so convenient and always at your fingertips. Instead of scrolling through social media on your phone, download a meditation or self care app to use regularly instead.
With this free app, you can chat anonymously with a mental health advocate. You simply download the app and find a new friend, you don’t need to register or sign up. I am a Cara Friend, so if you need someone to talk to, please come find me on the Cara Unmask app!
This is part of an important research study but also provides resources for women with postpartum depression. Read more about it on the Pact For The Cure website.
MGHPDS (Massachusetts General Hospital Perinatal Depression Scale)
This is a good one for new moms who are concerned about developing postpartum depression or anxiety. It contains questionnaires to assess your mood and stress level and will remind you to take them again every few weeks so that you can document any changes. The questions are similar to those used by medical professionals to check for maternal mood disorders.
This app was originally designed by the military to help patients coping with PTSD. It’s recommended by therapists as a supplement to treatment for stress and anxiety disorders, but it can be a great tool for a mother battling postpartum depression. You have the ability to add happy photos or video memories, favorite songs and quotes and access tools for coping with stress and anxiety.
Practicing meditation and mindfulness are great ways to help with postpartum depression and anxiety. This popular meditation app is easy to use and has sessions ranging from 1 minute up to 10 minutes. It’s perfect for a busy mom with only a few minutes to spare.
Online help for postpartum depression should never be a replacement for help from a medical professional. Always make sure that your doctor knows what you are feeling.
But also, get educated. Know who to call and how to take care of yourself.
When my battle with postpartum depression began, 6 years ago, I didn’t even have a smartphone. Aside from a few brochures that I was given in my doctor’s office, I had very little information about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Now, almost anyone can access online help for postpartum depression. There is so much more information for struggling mothers, that it would be a shame to let it all go to waste.
Yoga is known for it’s amazing mood boosting and stress reducing benefits.
Using yoga for postpartum depression can help to improve your overall mood and well-being. Adding yoga into a regular self-care routine is a simple change that can make a big difference. Since it is a low-impact way to exercise, it can be safe for mothers who are pregnant or recovering from childbirth. It’s also a great exercise to do with children or babies around because they love to watch and sometimes even follow along.
In this guest post from Meera Watts of SiddhiYoga.com, you can learn about all the amazing benefits of yoga for postpartum depression.
*This is a guest post and all opinions are those of the author. Please note that this post may contain affiliate links*
There are a variety of benefits yoga has displayed. It has been used for centuries for good reason. Instead of using prescription medications, there was the development of yoga to manage physical and mental problems. So it is that yoga can help us in the modern world with depression, stress, and mindfulness.
You are more prone to nurturing yourself when you create body awareness and of course mind awareness. You won’t beat yourself up anymore and let your ego dictate how you’ll feel. Yoga is a deeply grounding practice that brings out your truths. As your heart opens more and you learn about who you really are, you’ll have a profound sense of self. This can only create a place of self-love.
Here are the benefits of yoga for postpartum depression that you might not know about.
Harvard released the suggestion after a recent controlled trial study that yoga can help with the following:
• Reduction of the impact of stress in your daily life. • Assists with anxiety and depression. • Teaches you to self-soothe yourself with techniques like meditation, relaxation, and through the exercise aspect of the practice. • Energy is improved.
Yoga and Depression
The physical things in yoga will have your body moving in all sorts of directions. You get a gentle workout, a core workout, and learn to breathe properly. Then, you’ll do meditation. Yoga teaches you a lot and taps into your mind, body and soul. It can be helpful with depression and the symptoms. For example, yoga helps you to concentrate and helps you with your energy levels. These are common problems of depression that are solved through yoga.
Yoga helps you to manage any mental and emotional problems you’re dealing with. Conditions and disorders that can lead to depression such as chronic pain can be relieved.
Improve Your Mood
The reason we experience things like depression and anxiety is due to unbalanced levels of certain chemicals in the brain. Serotonin is something that makes us happy and gives us energy. When we don’t have enough, we can feel down. Yoga naturally helps to increase serotonin levels. Yoga is gentle so even if a person does feel low, they can go to a class and get the nurturing benefits. The fluid nature of the moves you do can evoke a nice feeling. As your body moves, you become more conscious of that instead of how you feel emotionally.
Warrior poses can make you feel powerful. That is not a feeling that someone with depression usually feels. You will also concentrate on your breathing which can bring you more energy.
Reducing Stress and Anxiety
Yoga works to increase your heart rate. Through breathing and encouraging blood to flow better with poses, it can change time between heartbeats. The relaxation response will dominate over the stress response in the body. The body gets better at monitoring itself and fighting against stress. It also reduces levels of cortisol that are released in the body. When you do get anxious, you cause the body to overproduce this chemical. When you have too much in the body, it can cause damage to the mind and body.
Yoga lowers your blood pressure and makes it easier to breathe. When you learn how to do deep breathing in yoga, you can immediately relax yourself. You also increase your pain tolerance by reducing stress. Stress has been shown to lower your pain tolerance.
Yoga and Mindfulness
A big part of yoga is learning to be mindful. This is the key to solve any negative feelings you have. As you learn to just observe the ego mind instead of going down to its level, you can manage any storm. It is the ego that says you’re not good enough, that you can’t do something, or that there’s something to worry about. Almost nothing it tells you has any true purpose and it can lead you to feel extremely angry, sad, anxious, or afraid.The funny thing is, the ego is basing it’s reality on your past situations. Say you’re triggered by a smell, this is the ego searching for an experience that occurred with a relate-able scent. If the memory is a good one, you feel happy. If it’s a bad memory, it can make you feel instantly terrible.
Mindfulness is being aware of the emotional pain or the physical pain that manifests in you when these things happen. You may not be able to remember what happened when you were five that created sadness from a smell. You can scan your body and be aware of what the brain is saying. Even just witnessing your thoughts can calm the rest of your body down.
Your ego doesn’t have a chance to berate you. When you’re kinder to yourself, you are less likely to do things like emotionally eat or get angry at people who don’t deserve it. Medical studies and scientific research say that meditation and mindfulness has neurological benefits. Yoga works on the body and through the breath to create a centered mind within you. Stress is decreased and so is depression. You will experience a higher quality of life with that open heart you’ve created. Then you’re not prone to fear and self-doubt.
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, CureJoy, FunTimesGuide, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of SiddhiYoga.com, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh and Dharamshala) and Indonesia (Bali).
For more information, view her website at www.siddhiyoga.com and follow her on social media.
Scary and intrusive thoughts are a common symptom of postpartum depression.
Intrusive thoughts lead many women to believe that they are terrible people, unfit mothers or a danger to their children. While many women experience them in some form, they don’t always recognize that they are intrusive or involuntary. Instead, they believe that the thoughts are how they truly feel, or what they are thinking subconsciously. They don’t talk about them for fear of what others will think of them.
It’s important to speak up about intrusive thoughts, but before a woman can do that – she needs to understand what they are, where they come from and what they mean. This is the only way she will be able to accept that the thoughts she is having are not who she has become, but rather, a side effect of her mental illness.
Here is some more information about intrusive thoughts.
What are Intrusive Thoughts?
Intrusive thoughts are an idea or image that come to your mind involuntarily. The thoughts may be extremely out-of-character and can be shocking when they happen. They are almost exactly the same as the thoughts and images that you normally have, except that they are not created nor welcomed by you. Intrusive thoughts are a sign of mental illness and prove that your mind is playing tricks on you.
What are NOT Intrusive Thoughts?
They are not hallucinations
They are not third party voices in your head
They are not an indication of postpartum psychosis
They are not subconscious thoughts or images
They are not part of your normal train of thought
They are not how you truly feel deep down inside
Types of Intrusive Thoughts
The most common type of intrusive thoughts or images are of doing something bad to the baby. They can be “what if…” type of thoughts such as “what if I drop my baby down the stairs” or “what if I stab my baby with a knife.” They can also be images such as watching the baby drown in the bathtub or crashing the car with the baby in the backseat.
Intrusive thoughts can also be about harming yourself. Many women experience suicidal thoughts but have no actual desire to commit suicide. Postpartum depression can cause women to experience thoughts of running away, jumping out of a moving car or falling asleep and never waking up again. Intrusive thoughts often make a woman believe she is unfit to be a mother and that her children would be better off without her.
Another type of intrusive thought includes harming a spouse or another loved one. It’s normal to complain about the annoying things a spouse does and imagine doing something bad to them, but when it affects your relationship or comes out of nowhere it could be an intrusive thought. Postpartum depression, and especially postpartum rage, are often misdirected towards spouses and partners – making a woman believe that she really does hate her husband. Add in intrusive thoughts like running them over with the car and it’s a relationship nightmare…
Some intrusive thoughts are inappropriate and violent. Many can be sexual in nature or include things like harming animals or setting the house on fire.
Basically, any thought or image that enters your head and feels scary and unnatural is an unwanted or intrusive thought.
The Danger of Intrusive Thoughts
Thoughts and images alone are not dangerous. But intrusive thoughts can cause several unwanted side effects that can become dangerous both physically and mentally.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Intrusive thoughts can cause a woman to develop postpartum OCD and become obsessed with certain thoughts and images. If she imagines the baby dying in their sleep, she may stop sleeping in order to check on baby several times through the night.
Stress and Anxiety. Knowing that intrusive thoughts are a possibility is a big source of stress and anxiety, which can worsen symptoms of postpartum depression. For a woman suffering from postpartum anxiety, scary thoughts can cause panic attacks and other symptoms.
Acting on Intrusive Thoughts. It’s rare that a woman would go so far as to act on her intrusive thoughts but the danger that she might still exists. Intrusive thoughts can even lead a woman to feel suicidal.
Stigmatizing. Intrusive thoughts play a major role in the stigma of postpartum depression. Many mothers who try to open up about them are treated like crazy people or seen as dangerous and suicidal. If intrusive thoughts are confessed to a person (even a medical professional) without enough knowledge about them, the consequences could be dangerous. Its important to find a safe place to discuss intrusive thoughts.
The Truth About Intrusive Thoughts
The truth is, they are not real. They may stem from the feelings of inadequacy or overwhelm caused by postpartum depression but they are not part of the subconscious mind. They are a figment of your imagination and a by-product of mental illness. In order to eliminate them, and avoid having them control your life, you need to accept that they are coming from somewhere else, and not from what’s within your heart.
How to Get Rid of Them
As long as a woman is suffering from a mental illness, the intrusive thoughts will always be a possibility. So the only way to eliminate them altogether is to treat the underlying condition. There are still several things a person can do to keep intrusive thoughts from affecting their lives.
Document Them. Writing down scary thoughts as they happen can help make them less frightening. You can write them on paper, in a journal or workbook, on your phone or use an app. If you really want to take a stand and connect with other women who are having them, you could even consider blogging about them.
Online Therapy. Speaking to a mental health professional is always a good course of action for women battling intrusive thoughts. With online therapy, you have the option to chat with your therapist anytime throughout the day, as opposed to waiting for a scheduled appointment. This is a great option to be able to discuss scary thoughts as they occur. (If this is an option you’d like to explore, try online therapy using my affiliate link: http://runningintriangles.com/OnlineTherapy).
Meditation. Clearing the mind on a daily basis can help reduce the instances of intrusive thoughts. Meditation can also help to create mindfulness in general, making you feel a little bit more in control of the thoughts and images in your own head. Meditation, either alone or while doing yoga, should become an important part of your self-care routine for battling postpartum depression and intrusive thoughts.
Positive Imagery. Surround yourself with sights that make you feel happy. You can put together a photo album of some of your happiest photos and look at it regularly. Or keep flowers and plants in your home. Hang motivational posters or family photos on the walls. Subconsciously, your mind will soak up all the beauty around you and be a happier place.
Get Enough Sleep.Sleep deprivation is known for causing all kinds of problems in new mothers. A lack of sleep is like leaving the door wide open for scary thoughts. If you need to, invest in a better mattress and look into other ways to fight off insomnia.
The most important factor in dealing with intrusive thoughts is to know the difference between your actual thoughts and the unwanted ones. Having frightening thoughts may make you feel like a bad mother with the potential to do something harmful but it’s not the truth. Focus on the positive thoughts and try your best to ignore the ones that make you feel anything but joy. Accept that they are a side effect of postpartum depression and not who you have become. It may take a while for the thoughts and images to go away, but as long as you remember that you are still you inside, you can defeat them.