My Pal, The Plucky Procrastinator, was kind enough to write this piece. She is my "go-to" gal for all things mental health. Please take a moment to read and share.
By: Dina, The Plucky Procrastinator
If you have spent any time hanging around my Facebook page, you would know that I host "Mental Health Mondays". I share various articles and resources related to depression, anxiety and suicide and sometimes touch on other mental health issues. I do this because my life has been
touched forever changed by depression, anxiety and suicide. In 2009, my husband of 19 years died by suicide after battling with depression and anxiety attacks for about 5 years. I didn't know enough about any one of those subjects at the time. Now, unfortunately, I have learned more and more and more. One of the ways I can make something good out of everything that happened is to try to help other people, and I believe if we don't find or make something good of the bad things which come our way, then it's always just bad. And since I have an irrational desire to control everything (that's a subject for a whole other blog ;)), I seek out knowledge. Knowledge is power and education is key.
So on this past Mental Health Monday, I was approached by Liz who is the lovely lady behind Funny Postpartum Lady and who invited me to guest post for her on the subject of postpartum depression. First and foremost, I admit that I was one of the lucky ones. I did not suffer from postpartum depression after any of the births of my three children. *thankin' my lucky stars* But I know it is a real and serious thing, and women who are no different than me suffer from it. I know us moms have to stick together and support each other because there's too much of the "who's doin' it right and better?" attitude out there among parents and that's just not cool. So I research it. Arm myself with knowledge, and here's some things I found for those of you who may suffer from this beastly form of depression.
Helpguide.org has been a great resource for me for various subjects, and it did not disappoint when it came to postpartum depression. HERE is a link to an article on their website which covers postpartum depression in length. It talks about baby blues, the signs and symptoms of postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis (much more serious), the causes and risk factors of postpartum depression, how postpartum depression affects the baby, and it gives some self-help tips to moms suffering from postpartum depression and discusses seeking professional help, as well. There are also some tips there for someone looking to help a loved one who suffers from postpartum depression. My favorite quote from this article is this:
"Postpartum depression can interfere with your ability to function, including your ability to take care of yourself and your child. If you have postpartum depression, it doesn't mean that you're a bad mother. However, when you are consumed with symptoms of depression such as fatigue, irritability, apathy, and tearfulness, it is difficult - if not impossible - to properly look after your newborn's needs. Your baby will be affected if the depression is left untreated. If you're suffering from postpartum depression, there is no reason to feel guilty or ashamed. The symptoms of postpartum depression are outside of your control. Considering the impact depression has on both you and your child, it's important to seek help right away."
I also found THIS BLOG on Blogher by katstone which lists 25 things not to say to someone who has postpartum depression. I think we can all relate to most of these! My favorite of the list: "Can't you see how lucky you are? You have a beautiful baby! You should be grateful." As if gratitude and depression cannot co-exist. Of course they can. Don't let anyone make you feel as though you're a failure at this mom thing. We're all just figuring it out as we go and any mom who thinks they have it ALL figured out, that's the last one I would be listening to, I can tell ya that.
If you are concerned you might have postpartum depression but just aren't sure, at pediatrics.about.com, you can participate in an on-line screening to see if you or someone you love are expressing symptoms of depression. You can find that on-line screening HERE.
I also found Postpartum Depression (dot) net which is an awesome resource for all prenatal and postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. You can find that website HERE. It lists a crisis help line for those suffering with postpartum depression at 1-800-944-4773. And if you ever feel as though you just can't handle life anymore and you are thinking about ending your life, you can call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to be connected to a crisis center close to you.
Psychcentral.com published an article titled 5 Damaging Myths about Postpartum Depression which discusses myths such as PPD will go away on its own or that women with PPD will hurt their kids or that having it is somehow the mom's fault. None of those are true, and I would encourage you to read that article to find the facts about PPD instead of believing any myths.
The first and foremost thing you need to know and remember is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You are not the only parent to feel this way, and what you are experiencing is TOTALLY treatable. One treatment does not fit all moms ... you may have to try a few different things to see what really works for you. Some just need to talk things out. Some may need mood altering medication to help. Some may even benefit from hospitalization. The point is this: it's treatable. So treat it. Don't ignore your own personal health, even your own personal mental health, worrying about what others will think of you or worrying about your child being taken away from you. Take your own health into your own hands and take charge of it. You're worth it, don't ya know? :)