My Experience of Postpartum Depression and How I Managed It (by Aradhana Pandey)

A couple of years ago, I went through the painful period of suffering from postpartum depression (PPD). The world didn’t really seem much to me. I went through bouts of complete despair and pain where nothing seemed right at all. I felt like a huge failure as I deeply believed I was not providing everything my baby girl needed. This stretched for a really long period and started to manifest itself into eating disorders. That’s when I realised that enough was enough. I decided to seek help and visited a doctor.

I have been on antidepressants and therapy for about a year. Although the treatment was extremely helpful, what made all the difference was the support from my husband and family. And of course, with a strong will to get better each day. As they say, no one can help you unless you want to be helped. There were many instances where I wanted to give up. But, that’s when everyone around me helped me hold on tighter and get through the pain.

Here are some measures that helped me deal with postpartum depression:

  1.  Therapy

When you realize these apparent “baby blues” are something much more sinister, it’s important to consult your doctor immediately. The doctor will suggest the kind of therapy, duration, and the intensity of the therapy. This isn’t going to be easy. In some cases, the medication’s side effects may get to you. You may feel very irritable and lethargic even on medication, which may make you want to give up. But stay strong and continue the treatment.

  1. Speak up

This really helps. Talk to your spouse, sibling, or friend about how you are feeling. It’s important not to bottle up your feelings. If something is disrupting your peace, making you anxious, or sad, talk about it and try to resolve the issue. Also during the therapy, as already mentioned, there may be phases where you find that you aren’t responding positively to the treatment. If this continues, you should let your doctor know and try to get alternative therapies.

  1. Meditation

Meditation is one way to calm your mind amidst all the thoughts that might be driving anxiety or depression. If you can, try to meditate for 15 minutes every day and you will slowly see the change.

4.  Ask for help

Friends and family are often happy to help new parents with their new baby. Use the opportunity whenver you can to take some time for yourself and go for long walks or go out for dinner with your husband. You’ll be surprised to see how much a little “me” time can work its magic.  

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Being depressed after giving birth doesn’t make you a bad mother. Addressing your issues and caring for your well-being isn’t being selfish or unloving. Different strategies or combinations of strategies will work for different people. Experiment with what feels right for you. Stay strong. You’re worth it.


About the Author: Aradhana Pandey

Aradhana is a writer from India. She covers topics concerning parenting, child nutrition, wellness, health and lifestyle. She has more than 150+ publications from reputable sites like Natural news, Elephant Journal, Lifehacker and MomJunction to her credit. Aradhana writes to inspire and motivate people to adopt healthy habits and live a stress-free lifestyle.

2 Comments

Libby

It’s very encouraging to see women speaking out about PPD and other mental health issues they live with or have sought treatment for. Mental health IS every bit as important, to a life well lived, as physical health is. You’re correct. As well, it’s every bit as normal to suffer mentally as it is physically. There should be no shame involved. Thank you for sharing and making that more possible for us all.

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SharonH

Isn’t this due to a disruption of brain chemicals that occurs after giving birth? I think it was Raquel Welch who also had a bad case of this as well. Glad this woman came through OK but just imagine if her family didn’t believe her. Support and understanding is so very important.

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One of our rituals was in the week before Christmas, we’d go shopping and each kiddo would choose a keepsake decoration for the tree. This would forever be their decoration. To make sure we’d remember who owned what (a year is a long time!) I wrote their name and year on the box. The idea is that when they leave home, they’ll have a collection of special decorations for their own tree, plump with throwbacks (‘Oh I remember when we bought this!).

Then of course there was Christmas morning. Santa would leave a note on the table and bootprints on the front path, which smelled remarkably like talcum powder. So magical the way the snow was under the boot and never melted, even in an Australian summer! But that’s the magic of Christmas, right?!

We often put so much pressure on ourselves to make Christmas magical. Rituals can make this easier. They get the special memories, you get to make the ‘magic’ without having to come up with something new and different each year.

It’s very likely that there will already be Christmas rituals happening in your family, even if you don’t realise it. Ask them what they remember most, or what they loved most about last Christmas, aside from the presents.

They might surprise you with things you’d completely forgotten about, or which at the time didn’t seem to be a biggie. It can be the simplest things. Maybe they loved the way they were allowed to have ice-cream with pancakes at breakfast last Christmas. (Ice-cream at breakfast?! Told you Christmas was magical!!). 

If it’s what they remember, and if it lights them up, let it become a ‘thing’. Maybe they loved the magic ‘neverending carrot’ sprinkles you put on the scrawny carrot you found in the vege drawer (remembering reindeer groceries can be so hard sometimes!)

You’d be surprised what they find special. It doesn’t have to be big to feel magical.

What are your Christmas rituals? Let’s share ideas in the comments.♥️
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It can feel as though the only way to strengthen them against their anxiety is to make sure they have nothing to worry about, but when their worries are real this might not happen quickly. 

Instead, we need to focus on helping them know that even though those worries are there, they will be okay. ‘Not worrying’ isn’t the antidote to anxiety, trust is. This will start with trust in you and your belief that they will be okay, and trust in your reaction if things don’t go to plan. Eventually, as they grow this will expand into trust in themselves and their own capacity to find their way through challenges to a place of hope and strength. 
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Strong steady breathing will reverse the fight or flight physiology that causes nausea, butterflies, or sick or sore tummies during anxiety. BUT telling an anxious brain to take a strong steady breath will potentially make anxiety worse unless strong steady breathing feels familiar. Practising during calm times will make it familiar. 

During anxiety we’re dealing with their amygdala, and it wants short shallow breathing to conserve oxygen. It doesn’t want strong steady breathing and will work hard to resist this. 

An anxious brain is a busy brain and it will be less able to do anything unfamiliar. A few minutes of strong steady breathing each day will set up a strong neural pathway to make strong breathing more automatic and accessible during anxiety. 

In the meantime though, you can do it for them. This is the magic of co-regulation. When you do strong steady breathing during their anxiety, it will calm your nervous system which will eventually calm theirs. You will catch their anxiety, and this will feed into their anxiety. Your strong steady breathing is the circuit breaker. They will catch your anxiety, but they will also catch your calm. Don’t worry if this takes a few minutes (and maybe a few more after that). Anxious brains are strong, powerful, beautiful brains working hard to protect. Breathe and be with. This will open the way for that distressed young nervous system to find its way home. And you don’t need to do more than that.♥️
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Needs and behaviour can get tangled up and treated as one. When you can, separate the need from the behaviour. Give voice to the need - let it find a way to breathe - and redirect the behaviour. 

The need might always be clear, especially if it’s being smothered by angry shouting words. If we stifle the behaviour without acknowledging the need, the need stays hungry. Help usher it into the light by making it clear that you’re ready to receive it. Then wait. Wait for the big behaviour to ease, for bodies to calm, and angry voices to soften - but keep the way to you open. ‘You’re a great kid and I know you know that behaviour wasn’t okay. Talk to me about what’s happening for you.’

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