Digging out of the Darkness – Five things that helped me Manage my Postpartum Depression.

A Bundle of Joy

A baby is called a bundle of joy, but sometimes along with that joy is a host of emotions like desperation, loneliness, anxiety, or fatigue (just to name a few).  I am someone who struggled with depression for years.  I knew getting hit with postpartum depression was a real possibility.  It wasn’t until I was deep into it that I even recognized what was happening.   This is a subject that is raw, and real, but I am hopeful that more women can feel confident in talking about this issue.  The goal being those who are struggling know they are not alone.   

Why We Don’t Talk About Depression

Sometimes I wonder why I (and likely other women) have a hard time talking about this subject?  For me it’s two-fold.  One, there is some guilt associated with feeling anything but fortunate and lucky to have a baby in the first place.  Complaining about it feels wrong.  Two, with all mental health there is a stigma.  I feel it is sometimes judged as a weakness when that’s not the case.  An example is let’s say a doctor told me, “you have strep throat, the bacteria need to be treated to make you better”.  They would then prescribe antibiotics to help kill off the bad bacteria and make you healthy again.  It would be unlikely you would say, nope I don’t need help, I’m tough and my throat can heal itself.  

For depression it’s hard even taking the step to see the doctor let alone accepting that medication is needed to help make you healthy (or even just feel semi-normal again).  If you are diagnosed with any other medical condition it is unlikely it would be something you feel ashamed or embarrassed about.  

Five Steps That Helped Me

Being in the throes of depression it’s sometimes hard to even recognize you are depressed.  Life challenges are exacerbated after having a baby when you don’t feel like yourself and are exhausted in the first place.   I have found some key steps that helped me climb out of the darkness of postpartum depression.  Note I’m not a medical expert, but these are the steps that helped me through the process. 

1 – Do the opposite of what you feel like in the moment. 

When I’m depressed all I want to do is isolate myself from the world, lay on the couch, soak in my feelings and binge watch Bravo.  It is not easy, but pushing yourself to be social and meet with friends (or anyone) is healthy.  It also might be the last thing you feel like, but getting out for a walk and exercise can really help.  Even if it’s the last thing in the world you want to do, taking steps moving forward will help you get better.  

2 – Find a doctor you trust

It is key to have and go see a doctor you feel comfortable speaking with.  They can help assess your situation and help you with any needs for medication or therapy.  

3 – Try therapy

I was therapy-resistant but knowing I wanted to get better for my family I was willing to try.  There are a lot of options available with tech advancements as well.  I ended up using the Talkspace app.  It fit better into my life as a mom and they can match you with a therapist based on your needs.   

4 – Find support 

Find a mom group or other venue to know you are not alone.  Having people to go through this with you not is immensely helpful.  Within Talkspace there are also groups you can join where you can find support from peers. 

5 – Don’t be too hard on yourself

As a Mom, it’s so easy to feel like you are failing in one area or another.  Recognize you are doing the best you can and that’s what your family needs.  Finding the time and resources to help yourself feel better might not feel like it, but it is a priority.  Lastly, try not to be too hard on yourself.  Like most things in life you will get through the low points, just know there are brighter horizons not too far ahead.  

Thank you for reading.  If you have any questions or comments please leave them below.  I’d love to hear from you.

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