Do You Know How to Cope with Postnatal Depression?
Most people have heard of it only on a theoretical level. Likely, they perceive it as something that does not concern them (of course, unless they have a personal experience with it or a loved one who suffered or is suffering this illness).
I perceived it the same way until it hit me hard. So hard that I ended up being on the verge between life and death.
That is when I understood very quickly that postnatal depression concerns every parent regardless of their gender, mental health history, lifestyle, or level of readiness for parenthood (if there is even such a thing, that is).
Furthermore – in most cases, when you suffer postnatal depression, you don’t know that you do! You experience all the symptoms like crying, feelings of regret, sadness, doubt, or even self-harm… but you don’t know you suffer an actual disease.
Which is one of the biggest problems…. Women feel guilty about their feelings and have no idea they are dealing with a killing disease.
Yes, postnatal depression is a disease and therefore cannot be influenced by your will (if only it was that easy!). This is what a lot of people get wrong and offer phrases like “Snap out of it” or “You just had a baby, why are you sad?” when trying to cheer up someone who suffers this horrible illness.
Of course, in most cases, these “words of comfort” come from a good place. But please remember that postnatal depression doesn’t mean being depressed about having a baby. It is something that takes over your brain and you suddenly have no power over your thoughts or deeds. It is a very dangerous disease that is why it is essential to seek professional help.
Surely, when you hit rock bottom, it is not easy is to speak to professionals about how you feel. I get it. Sometimes only the idea of doing so can cause you feel even lower.
If you feel like talking to a professional is too much for you right now, start with baby steps (how ironic). Choose someone you trust and talk to them about your feelings. When you speak out, not only will a huge weight lift off your shoulders (this itself is pretty therapeutic), but it will likely lead to further sources of support.
I suffered from postnatal depression in silence for a few months and when I finally opened up to my friend about how I really felt, I suddenly could not understand why I hadn’t spoken out much earlier. Speaking out itself encouraged me to speak more. And frankly, it was the most powerful step on a way to my recovery.
Better yet, the person you talk to will also likely say something that gives you an idea or motivation for further steps (often even without realising it), that will gradually give you the strength to talk to a therapist, health visitor, midwife, or your GP. And this step is - trust me – crucial for you and your family.
So please - never keep your thoughts and feelings for yourself. Not even those scary ones – especially those!
Talking is the key.
A lot of mums out there learned this way too late. Don’t let it be the case for you too, mama!
Apart from seeing a professional, there is, however, a lot you can do for your wellbeing yourself too. Personally, I enjoyed meditation and exercising a lot and they both proved the most effective therapies for me (apart from talking, that is). Whatever problem I had been dealing with on that day, after leaving the gym covered in sweat I felt like there was nothing I couldn’t handle.
This feeling is so empowering and special that it cannot be compared to anything. A proper brain reboot. So very needed when you are a new mum!
Another thing you should do right away is to stop trying to make everything yourself. Start asking for help. The more, the better. Don’t worry that you would bother anyone. People are flattered when asked for help. It’s a win-win.
Also, make sure to get some Me time. That you go out, spend time with other mums and perhaps set up a regular mums night out? Anything that will help you to get back on track. It is harder at first, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Always remember that this is just a stage that will pass. Just like all other stages in your life did… Once your baby starts to be more independent, once they start to smile, hug you, tell you they love you, make you laugh… You won’t be able to imagine your life without them anymore.
Always keep this image in your mind and let it be your light at the end of the tunnel whenever the dark thoughts take over.
Do you know much power you have in you, mama?
We all have it, but not all of us are connected with it. (Note - on the 12th of November, I am running a free 3-day ‘Feel Good Now Challenge’ where I will teach you how to use this power to overcome stress and anxiety in your life.)
Believe me that you have far more power than you can ever imagine. I know there are moments when you don’t feel strong enough to even get out of bed (been there…), but trust me that the power is there.
And you will feel strong one day again. Most likely, it will be much sooner than you would have thought.
You will get your life back one day, mama, I promise. And when you put some work and effort into it, it can be even better than before.
It can be phenomenal!
Mine certainly is. And bear in mind that I used to believe that my life was over after becoming a mum and had suicidal thoughts.
Today, not only would I die for my boys, but I also know that becoming a mum let me start living my life.
I feel more awake, more alive, more connected with my emotions, more respectful and loving to myself, more empowered, and more focused. My kids teach me so many things each day! I learned to appreciate those little things in life and be grateful for what I used to take for granted before. I found the strength to left my old job I hated and start doing what I love!
I was scared I lost my life after becoming a mum, but now I know I did not lose it. On the contrary, I filled it and made it more wonderful than it was ever before.
And so can you, mama!
And you will.
Ivana Poku is an award-nominated blogger, motivational speaker, a founder of Mumsjourney, the author of Motherhood - The Unspoken, a mother of twins, and a believer in every mother’s power to overcome any struggle and create the life she desires.
After becoming a mother, Ivana suffered major postnatal depression which was so intense that it made her decide to make a difference and help mums from around the world to never have to feel the way she did after becoming a mum.
She believes that even if things don't go as far as depression, becoming a mum is a massive change and without relevant information and support, you can easily fall into isolation or even depression.