One of my lovely friends sent me this article this week on post natal depression – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lynn-shattuck/the-two-phrases-that-helped-me-through-postpartum-depression_b_4156389.html. Post natal depression is a very serious condition that is still such a stigma in our society as all mental health issues are as people don’t take the time to understand it. This affects not just mums, but dads. Up to 15% of mums and 10% of dads are diagnosed with it (many others aren’t diagnosed) – that’s a staggering amount of parents. In this article, Lynn discusses about going to support groups, the taking of antidepressants etc. These are all well known ways to cure it – but how can you minimise getting it in the first place….
I myself was diagnosed with PND when my third child was about 9 months old. On reflection, I had had this for a few months. The symptoms, overwhelming exhaustion, physical pain in my back and neck, fatigue, not being able to sleep even when everyone else was asleep, irritable, cross, losing my own identity, and much much more. I still don’t always feel that I’ve ever managed to fully get rid of it but here’s some things looking back I think would have helped:
1. Admitting looking after my kids was too much and asking and organising good help (one of the main reasons behind my setting up NurtureMe)
2. Being kind to myself – that is giving myself a break about not being perfect – it’s ok to give your kids frozen pizza every now and again – they won’t die
3. Taking some time to myself and I don’t just mean a couple of hours, I mean a serious break – like a half day or overnight on a regular basis as getting a break from the environment I was in would have really helped
4. Nurturing myself – that would include eating well, getting lots of exercise, taking time out with a book or to cook (for myself) and being around positive people who made me feel good
5. Having someone that told me I was doing a good job and just giving me a hug
I personally feel in the current society we live in, we are all expected to achieve so much already such a great careers, have a huge social circle, keep our houses pristine, cook perfectly balanced meals and that’s even before we consider what is expected of us when we have children. Once we have kids, we are also expected to add this into the mix of the perfect life.
The breakdown of small communities I believe is also responsible. We all live so far apart from our families, their is no/limited church (previously people would have got help from somewhere like the church) – many of us never go to church or have any faith, our close ones are so busy with their own lives that no one has the time to get involved or see it as their responsibility to help. Previously people would have rallied round. In many current cultures, breastfed babies are passed round other lactating mothers so the new mum can have a rest. These other mothers would show the new mum how to feed and be with her baby. We’ve become so sanitised that we can’t even consider this and all it does is put extra pressure on the mum to go it alone.
I also feel that many of the popular books and methods on child rearing don’t help. We feel like failures when our babies don’t meet into a specific routine or structure set out by books that don’t recognise the different needs of each babies. Yes, babies need routine – but they don’t need a schedule imposed on them to function well, what they need is a pattern of events so they know what’s next.
So if you have or feel that you may have PND, don’t feel that you are alone. Be kind to yourself, take any offer of help that is given, nurture yourself and get rid of the books and go with your instincts as a parent as I know you will be doing a brilliant job as I know you care.
Much love Tricia xx