Frankly, I was astonished at the outpouring of support and EMPATHY after my last post. I knew that I wasn’t alone, that fifteen to twenty percent of mums experience some form of post partum depression (and just so you know, “depression” is kind of a blanket term for mood disorders including anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis), beyond the initial baby blues. But, those numbers seem so, well, small. To see testimony after testimony put some flesh on those numbers and helped me realise that this is probably more prevalent than we realise, especially nowadays when the expectations and pressures put on mums are so pronounced (but that’s another blog post!).
Many of you have asked how I’m doing since I wrote that post, gosh was it really two months ago?! Holy cow!
Well, the short of it is, I’m doing much better!
Even though I had been pretty transparent about it with my family and friends, something lifted once I proclaimed it in our modern equivalent of the public square. I can only imagine that somewhere deep down, I’d harboured some shame about having PPD, that being a new mum was a matter of being strong, of mind over matter and that surely being depressed was a sign of my weakness, my feeble-mindedness.
But here’s what is so wonderful about getting yourself into a support group (and from hearing from so many of you); my group is packed with sharp, accomplished women from all walks of life. There is nothing weak or feeble-minded about them. And they are struggling with the same thing I am. A support group offers a chance for you to look into a mirror — and a real one, not the warped one that PPD creates for you.
And that’s why I want you to know that if you are suffering, you need to go meet some other mums who are suffering too.
A group is a safe place where you can pull all those dark thoughts out of the shadows and examine in the warm light of other women in the same position as you. They will not condemn you, because to do so would be to condemn themselves. It’s a place to figure out what to do with those thoughts, in the moment and long-term through therapy, and yes, meds if you so choose. And, in my case, it’s a place to learn how to laugh at those thoughts! I have found that when I’m able to laugh at utter preposterousness of the things I’m thinking about myself, I feel stronger, I take away their power to crush me.
It’s also a place of hope. One of the toughest, recurring tapes playing in my brain has been “when is this going to be over? Will it EVER be over?”, so spending time with women who have, for the most part, toppled the beast or, to follow the analogy I used in my last post, found a beekeeper suit so that the bees’ stings no longer penetrate… well that is medicine in and of itself too.
So if you think that you’re suffering from any one of the myriad forms of PPD, please get yourself into a group. Check out postpartum.net which is where I went at the depths of my despair. Call the hotline, and ask them to help you find a group in your area. You’ll be astounded at the depth of kindness and compassion on the other end of the phone.
Finally, I wanted to thank you guys so much for being here for me. You guys are so patient, so loyal, so kind to me. You are a blessing to me. I hope to be back to my old goofy self very soon. It’s coming along, slowly. I know there will be battles, but knowing that you guys have my back is such powerful ammunition! Thank you!