Having a baby is usually an exciting and joy filled time for women, but some women don’t get to experience the common euphoria; instead they get postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is depression experienced by new mothers after having their baby. It can strike immediately, or all of a sudden attack months or even years later.
Symptoms of postpartum depression not only have those of typical clinical depression, but also can result in a lack of connection and bond between mom and baby. This can make motherhood very difficult and even painful. Mothers who experience this blame themselves and think they are inferior to other parents. They think they somehow caused this and brought this on themselves and their baby.
If you’re a mom reading this, believe me when I tell you it is NOT your fault, you did nothing wrong, and you did not cause this.
As a mother myself who experienced severe postpartum depression I can say I have been there and done that. To help myself it took three things. Others may not need these, or they may need only one or two, or maybe they even need all three and more. That’s okay, everyone is different and you are not any less valuable as a parent. But in case there’s an option I’ve done that a struggling mother hasn’t considered, I figured I’d share what worked for me.
First step is self care and me time. Ask your significant other, family, or friends to watch your baby so you can take time to go out to eat at your favorite restaurant, get your hair and/or nails done, get some fresh air, watch a show on Netflix, essentially treat yourself. Self care also means catering to your physical health. Use some of that you time to nap, shower, go on a walk or to the gym, and meal prep so it’s easier to have healthy food versus junk food. Your physical health plays a big role in your mental health. But don’t over pressure yourself, mom life is hard and nobody is going to blame you for ordering take out or throwing pizza in the oven when there’s just no time or energy to actually cook.
Second thing is therapy. Throughout my life I’ve been in and out of therapy. But now as a mom I need it more than ever. Therapists are professionals and have advice and tools to help you that work like some kind of miracles; at least they do for me. The best thing about therapists is they are on your side, and they legally can’t disclose anything you discuss with anyone, including their boss/friends/family, unless you threaten to harm yourself or someone else. But if you just need to rant about someone who annoyed you and work out your feelings or vent about how you love your child/children but you’re so overwhelmed, your therapist is there to be the ear you so desperately need to listen to you without judging you.
Third thing is medication. My therapist was able to refer me to an amazing psychiatrist. For a little bit I had to get on medication to help give me the boost I needed to get out of my rut. I’m now off my medication, but I was no less a mom when I was medicated. You may need medication short term, long term, or permanently. And none of that will make you any less of a mom/wife/girlfriend/fantastically strong woman.
The point is, you’re not alone. Postpartum depression doesn’t descriminate and can happen to anyone. Help is out there, and if nothing I said helped, I’d recommend talking to a therapist because even if therapy with them won’t help, they may know of another resource that will. If you know someone who’s a mother and is showing signs of depression, be kind to them and let them know they matter, help them get whatever they need to get better.
Dear Mama who cries, it’s going to be okay. You will get better. You will get that bond with your baby/child. You will get through this. And you are a super hero. It’s just going to take some time to get those super powers running, and that is okay. From one mom to another, I’m proud of you for every day you’ve made it through so far, and every day I know you’ll make it through in the future.