Everything you ever wanted to know about perinatal mood disorders
Don't speak. Don't feel. Don't cry.
Don't let people see. Don't let people in.
It's normal, right? To feel this way.
Everyone feels this way, right?
I am alone.
Don't speak. Don't feel. Don't cry.
- Kayla Huszar
Here’s what perinatal mood disorders look and feel like:
You’re telling yourself all kinds of stories… like, you are the only one who can calm the baby, put the baby to sleep, and feed the baby. You’re the only one who can keep the baby from harm. You check the baby to make sure they are breathing (more often than you’d like to admit).
AND It's no secret that moms don't want to or can't talk about the very real things that are happening to them (in real time, in real situations).
Here is the very real truth about perinatal mood disorders:
Postpartum depression (PPD) can start minutes after delivery, with the highest risk being in the first 5 months
20-25% of women will experience a perinatal mood disorder at some point within the first year
Women with a history of depression are 35% more likely to experience a perinatal mood disorder
Women who experienced depression during pregnancy are 50% more likely to experience a perinatal mood disorder
Ask yourself the following:
How often am I neglecting my own basic needs, or the needs of my child(ren)?
How often am I blaming myself for things gone wrong?
How often am I feeling anxious, panicky, worried and/or scared?
How often am I crying, for long periods of time, seemingly for no reason?
How often am I too exhausted to do anything (ie. leaving the house, doing things you used to love)?
When the truthful answer to these questions is "moderate to high frequencies", it's likely time to reach out to someone. Anyone, anyone safe and who will hold you with love and support. This could be your partner, family member or professional. It doesn't much matter, as long as you are truthful with someone safe, it will open up a supportive dialogue.
If you have answered "moderate to high frequencies" for one or more of these questions and feelings have lasted for more then 2 weeks, I highly recommend seeking professional support. This could be from your doctor, health nurse or therapist. Pay attention to that voice inside that says "something isn't right here". Trust that thought and yourself. Reach out for support. You deserve everything you need to feel content with motherhood.
How is it that we don't ask for more? How is it that we are not being asked "HOW are you"? How is it that when you give someone a real response, they tend to retreat and not know how to respond? How is it that we don't ask for more? More joy, more love, more support, more time, more sleep? How it is that in 2018 we are walking around numb?
I talk to moms every day, and in response to the "how are you" question, these are the standard responses:
"Fine." "Busy" "Getting by" "Surviving"
I say BE BRAVE, BE HONEST. Tell the truth (even if its ugly, especially if its ugly). Say how you are really feeling. Seek help if you need it (even when you don't "need"). But how will you know when you need support? It's as simple as checking in with yourself every now & then.
Oh and when YOU ask someone how THEY are, be prepared for the real truth. And respond with something like "wow, that f-ing sucks". NOT "oh ok...this too shall pass.” You know what you can do to help, HEAR HER, SEE HER, listen and be present with her.
That's all anyone needs, just to be heard and validated.
Until next time,
PS> I saw the picture above, while searching for an image for this blog post. The poem came to me spontaneously while thinking about all the moms, I see, who are walking around silently struggling.
If you or someone you know is struggling with PPD or PPA (postpartum anxiety), please reach out for support. I believe you have the strength to heal from both. In my private practice in Regina, SK where am passionate about maternal mental health, I offer a free 30 minute in-person meeting to find out if I'm the right support person for you.