Most women with postpartum depression know two things – that they should talk about it, and that they don’t want to.
New mothers are bombarded with information telling them that they need to speak up if they just aren’t feeling right. But they don’t – and for several good reasons. So how do we bridge the gap between the terrified mothers living silently in darkness and the concerned support system who can only help if they know what’s wrong?
Ending the stigma surrounding mental illness would break down so many barriers. And more women talking about postpartum depression would help to do that.
The women who DO speak up, are courageous for doing so. They have decided to ask for help and tell their stories, despite the barriers presented by the medical system and society in general.
Here are some tips for women who want to know how to talk about postpartum depression.
Read About It
Reading the stories of other mothers can help you figure out how to talk about postpartum depression. Try to read as many stories as you can, because each mother’s experience is different. You never know which ones will relate to you specifically. And if you find a story that feels like the author took the words right out of your mouth – then save it and read it over and over again. Share it on social media or with someone you love. Let the courage of other woman inspire you to want to share your own story.
Find some stories to read in The Ultimate Collection of Postpartum Depression Stories
More of a visual person? You can find hundreds of videos of women telling their postpartum depression stories on YouTube
Write About It
If you want to know how to talk about postpartum depression, then you need to practice what you’re going to say. Writing it out is a great first step. You don’t need to be a professional writer nor feel any obligation to share your story with anyone. Write it just for you.
Write it out on paper, in pen, so that you can’t erase or delete anything. You can scribble words out but they will still be there like an everlasting reminder that running away from your thoughts doesn’t help.
Write about the bad stuff that you’re too afraid to say out loud. Write about the sad stuff and keep writing even when your tears soak through the paper. Write about all the hopes and dreams that haven’t come true for you yet.
When you’re done writing it out – you will want to burn it or tear it up into a million pieces and flush it. But instead of doing that, find the courage to keep it. It will help you greatly when you are ready to talk about postpartum depression.
Help Someone Else
Helping someone else who is in the same situation as you are is a great way to learn how to talk about postpartum depression. One way to do this by joining a private online support group where you can talk more freely with strangers. Mothers are usually quite honest and open in these groups and ask questions about everything from medications to marriage problems. If you don’t feel quite ready to ask your own questions, then start by answering one for another mother.
Supporting someone else is incredibly empowering and can give you the courage to talk about your own struggle with postpartum depression.
Here are some online support groups you can join: (I am a member of all these groups as well)
Talk to a Survivor
No one knows how to talk about postpartum depression better than a survivor. I should mention that, when it comes to maternal mental illness, there are no REAL survivors because there is no REAL cure.
What I mean by a survivor is:
- A woman who has lived through the worst of it in the first year postpartum.
- A woman who decided she needed help and asked for it.
- A woman who spoke up about what she was going through.
- A woman who made changes in her life to avoid the chances of a relapse.
- A woman who has established a treatment plan.
- A woman who’s mind told her to end it all but she didn’t.
Survivors are still battling the pain of postpartum depression and/or are at risk for a relapse. But survivors have one thing that you don’t… they have spoken up about postpartum depression and lived to tell the tale. So find a survivor and ask them how to talk about postpartum depression.
Don’t Do It Alone
Fighting a battle alone is never a good plan, no matter how much courage you have. It is much easier to talk about postpartum depression when you have someone holding your hand. Asking for help with postpartum depression doesn’t always mean asking for medication or therapy. Asking for help can mean something as simple as helping you talk to someone about what you’re going through.
Who do you want to talk to about postpartum depression? Your spouse? Your doctor? Your family or friends? Find a person or group to stand with you as you do it (physically or virtually). Having someone else there for “emotional support” can give you the courage you need to speak up, and also hold you accountable so you can’t back out at the last minute.
One option to consider if you’d like help to speak openly about your postpartum depression to your family and friends is to access an online psychiatrist. Thanks to the privacy and anonymity that it offers, you can speak to a licensed professional, on your own time, without anyone needing to know until you are ready. Find out more at Online-Therapy.com.
Consider the Worst Case Scenario
Make a list of all the things keeping you silent. Which one do you fear the most? Are you afraid you will be treated like a criminal or child abuser? That your children will be taken away from you, or that your spouse will leave you? Maybe you’re worried that someone will judge you, say insensitive things to you or avoid you altogether?
Now make a list of all the reasons why you want to speak up. Are you struggling and don’t know how to cope? Do you want to be a better mother and wife? Do you want others to know why you’ve been acting strange? Do you feel alone? Are you scared of what you might do? Contemplating suicide?
Which list is your worst case scenario?
Don’t wait for something bad to happen before you decide to talk about postpartum depression. Think carefully about the consequences of staying silent when you should be speaking up. Talking about it won’t be easy, and neither is battling in silence – but wouldn’t you rather have an army by your side to fight the war raging inside of you?
Make Plans For the Future
Thinking about the future can help you decide how to talk about postpartum depression. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the darkness happening right now, but the future is that light at the end of the tunnel. Without help or a plan to get better, the future seems bleak. It seems like a never-ending life of sadness and despair.
Imagine what you want your future to look like. Do you want to have more children? Think about watching your children grow up, helping them with homework and taking family vacations. Aim to achieve it instead of mourn what would be. So make a 1, 5, and 10 year plan for your life. Having a future will give you something to fight for.
The simple act of talking about postpartum depression can feel like an insurmountable task for many mothers.
The hundreds of reasons for staying silent are completely valid and understandable. Postpartum depression is a private matter and there is no need for the entire world to know about a mother’s inner most thoughts and feelings.
But the hundreds of reasons for speaking up are also valid. It will take a lot of courage, and make a person feel exposed and vulnerable. But it means that you won’t have to fight this battle alone. And if you don’t have to fight it alone, you have a much better chance of winning.
Don’t wait for someone to ask you how you’re feeling, take matters into your own hands and find the courage to speak up.
Oh Canada – the land of free healthcare!
While healthcare in Canada is free for citizens – and I wouldn’t want it any other way – it can be a challenge for mothers to find and access proper postpartum depression resources.
Obviously, speaking to a doctor would be the first step. But often, our family doctors, obstetricians or gynecologists were not our first choice, but rather, the ones with the shortest waiting list. It’s difficult to speak to someone about something as personal as postpartum depression when a strong relationship doesn’t exist.
For mothers in Canada, it’s important to have a list of postpartum depression resources we can access when we don’t get the answers we were looking for from our primary healthcare providers. Free healthcare doesn’t have to mean that our options are limited.
Here are a few different postpartum depression resources available to Canadians…
Postpartum Support International
PSI (postpartum.net) is perhaps one of the best postpartum depression resources available to women regardless of where you live. View their list of postpartum depression resources in Canada for contacts you can reach out to in each province. At the bottom of the page, you can get information for different support groups available in cities across Canada.
The PSI helpline is available to Canadians (and internationally). If you’re not sure where to begin on your journey to recovery, but simply know that you need help, calling this number is a great first step.
PSI Toll Free Helpline: 1-800-944-4773 (4PPD)
A postpartum doula is a fairly newer trend in postpartum support. While many women hire doulas to help them through labor and delivery, a postpartum doula is specifically there to help you in the postpartum period. They will do anything that you need – from helping with the baby to cleaning the house and running errands. Even if you have the support of a spouse or family members, a trained doula comes with a ton of knowledge, both about newborn baby care and maternal mental health.
So if you’re struggling, or worried about getting through the postpartum period on your own – consider hiring a postpartum doula to help.
Where to Find a Postpartum Doula
The best places to find a postpartum doula near you is by searching the member directories on professional certification websites.
Doula Canada | doulatraining.ca
A Canadian organization that trains doulas and childbirth educators. They offer listings of doula practices by province.
CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association) | www.cappa.net
An international organization for doula training and certification. Check out their list of CAPPA certified postpartum doulas in Canada.
ICEA (International Childbirth Education Association) | icea.org
A non-profit organization that supports doulas and other professional childbirth educators. Their list includes both certified and non-certified doulas in Canada.
DONA International | www.dona.org
One of the most widely recognized doula certification organizations – you can search their database for a postpartum doula near you!
Online Support Groups
An online support group is a great resource for mothers suffering from postpartum depression and other maternal mental health disorders. There is something so freeing about chatting with a stranger, commenting on posts from women who feel exactly the same as you do, and being able to share any knowledge you’ve come across or support another mother who is struggling.
The Canadian Postpartum Depression Support Network on Facebook has over 600 members and is a very active group with extremely supportive members who comment on nearly every post almost immediately. There is a benefit to joining a specifically Canadian group, as the members can relate to the healthcare system and treatment options available. Join this group here.
Postpartum Depression & Anxiety Support Group is a Facebook group run by Patricia Tomasi – maternal mental health writer for Huffington Post Canada. With over 1700 members, you’ll find great discussions and a very supportive group. Join this group here. You can also follow her Facebook page for lots of great information and articles about maternal mental health.
Postpartum Support International has their own Facebook group as well and it has well over 8,000 members. You are sure to get a response and lots of support from women all over the world who are struggling with maternal mental health issues. Join this group here.
Mother Matters is an 8 week online support group open to residents of Ontario. It is run by the Mental Health Program at Women’s College Hospital, and registration must be done in advance. Find out more here.
If you’re looking for a more specific group, simply search on Facebook groups for one. Once you find a group that’s the right fit, it can easily become one of your most treasured postpartum depression resources.
Provincial Crisis Hotlines
In addition to Postpartum Support International’s Helpline, there are several local crisis hotlines available throughout Canada.
A crisis hotline is available 24 hours a day in the event of an emergency or if you are contemplating suicide, hurting yourself or hurting someone else. The hotline operators are trained to handle emergency situations, especially those pertaining to mental health, so you can rest assured that they will understand what you are going through.
A local crisis hotline is one of the most important postpartum depression resources to keep nearby in case your mental health worsens suddenly. In the event that you need physical intervention or support, help can be dispatched immediately.
Visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention to locate the crisis centers in your province – suicideprevention.ca/need-help
A list of different crisis hotline numbers available by province can also be found on the Your Life Counts website –www.yourlifecounts.org
Counseling is an excellent treatment option for women with postpartum depression, however, there are many barriers to meeting with a counselor in person.
Some things that may discourage mothers from seeking face-to-face counseling:
- Difficulty finding a counselor that you feel comfortable talking to
- Unable to arrange childcare while attending sessions
- Unmotivated to leave the house for appointments
- Scheduling conflicts or a lack of extra time
- Fear of others finding out that you need counseling
Online counseling is a much better option for mothers with postpartum depression. Through sites such as Online Therapy and BetterHelp, mothers will be matched with a counselor based on their needs, and the sessions conveniently take place from the privacy of their own home.
Genetic Research Study
Mom Genes is a genetic research study being conducted in Canada by the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Ontario. (It’s also being run in several other countries by their own sponsors). They are currently trying to collect information from women who have postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis. With this information, they will hopefully be able to find out the cause of postpartum depression as well as develop better programs and treatment options.
To take part in the study is very simple – it just requires downloading a free app. If you qualify, you’ll be asked to provide a DNA sample in the form of a saliva kit which will be mailed to you. In addition to contributing to this important study, the app provides postpartum depression resources, such as a tip of the week and important phone numbers.
Health & Wellness Products
Aside from anti-depressants, there are many all-natural and herbal supplements available that can help with the symptoms of postpartum depression.
A few popular products known to improve the overall mood and well-being of mothers with postpartum depression includes:
One of the best online sites to purchase health and wellness products in Canada is Well.ca. Whatever natural products you need for your own self-care routine and to help improve your mental health can be found here. Check out Well.ca’s Women’s Health Section to find all the products you’re currently using.
Aromatherapy has amazing health and mood-boosting benefits. There are so many different blends and oils available to treat specific symptoms and create a more positive environment. Learn more about how aromatherapy can benefit you.
Decent, Canadian, online shopping sites are surprisingly good postpartum depression resources because it’s difficult to find the motivation to leave the house to find the products we need for our own health.
Platforms to Spread Awareness
Postpartum depression is dark and ugly. It’s shocking and harsh and evil and all the bad things in the world. But it’s also something beautiful. It’s powerful and real and truthful. A postpartum depression story, when shared with the world, can change lives.
To see what I mean, check out some of the stories from brave sufferers and survivors of postpartum depression in The Ultimate Collection of Postpartum Depression Stories. Or read more from real moms in our 10 Questions About Postpartum Depression.
Are you ready to turn your postpartum depression story into something beautiful? Share it in the form of a guest post right here on Running in Triangles.
Here are some other platforms where you can share your postpartum depression story:
- Postpartum Support International – Tell Your Story (this is a good platform if you’ve ever used the services of PSI along your journey)
- Muddy Boots and Diamonds – Surviving the Darkness (share your story in the form of an interview. Read my interview here)
- I am 1 in 4 (share a story about your mental health journey to help raise awareness and break down the stigma. See my story here.)
- The Mighty (follow other sufferers of mental illness and submit your own story or poem about postpartum depression)
- YouTube (view postpartum depression stories that other moms have uploaded)
Or, consider starting your own blog! Mental health bloggers are doing some incredible things to help spread awareness and end the stigma by speaking up and sharing their stories. If you’re interested in learning how to start your own mental health blog, check out this tutorial: How to Start Blogging About Postpartum Depression.
It’s unfortunate that there isn’t enough awareness about postpartum depression resources in Canada.
There are a few groups on Facebook that are working hard towards spreading awareness, including Maternal Mental Health Progress in Canada and Postpartum Depression Awareness and they’re definitely worth a follow.
Get this FREE printable PDF Quick Reference Guide of National Crisis Support Numbers in the Running in Triangles Free Resource Library, available exclusively to subscribers of the Postpartum Depression Survival Guide. Click here to subscribe.