What advice would you give to moms who are struggling with PPD?
Don't give up. This is a hard road to travel but there is an end. You will be happy again. You will smile again. And please know that you are definitely not alone. There are other people out there going through what you are going through. Get out and meet them in a support group. Don't let yourself sit in your home alone. You can get through this, but remember no man is an island.
Don’t lose hope. You will recover … as long as you get the right help—whether it is through a medical and/or mental-health professional—and stick with the treatment plan. There will be ups and downs along the way. If you have a bad day, don’t go into the next day with a negative attitude. Take one day at a time. No one can tell you with absolute certainty how long your recovery will take, since everyone’s situation is different and even the type and length of treatment differs from one person to the next. Severity of PPD is a factor, as is how well the person reacts to medication and/or therapy. For me, I was fortunate that the Paxil kicked in at the precise moment I needed to go back to work, which was four weeks after I started to take the medication. Was I fully recovered then? No. I had to stay on the medication for nearly a year. But the good thing was I was functional and, more importantly, able to enjoy being a mom within four weeks after taking the Paxil. I was even functional and had enough of a clear mind to return to work. At about the same time, I was also able to feel comfortable mingling with people again and enjoying activities I used to enjoy.
Depression lies. It will tell you that you are failing. It will tell you that you are not good enough. It may even tell you that things would be better off without it. It is LYING. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Talk about these feelings. Let others know that you are struggling and let them help. Please know that you are not alone and this is not your fault. PPD is an illness and it is something that can and will get better, if you treat it.
Reach out for help. This can often be an incredibly difficult first step, but it is one that is imperative. While PPD can be incredibly frightening and overwhelming, it is absolutely treatable. Women who suffer from PPD, who reach out for help, and who follow treatment recommendations by trained providers get well. And the sooner a mom gets support for PPD, the easier it is to treat.
Believe in yourself.
Believe in your strength.
Believe in the beauty in your soul underneath all the muck this illness creates.
Believe in your worth.
Believe that you are loved immensly.
Believe in victory over this beast.
Most of all, believe in hope and hang onto it with all of your might. There is always hope. Always.
A dear friend of mine sent me this quote that I have plastered all over my house:
“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher
At the end of the day, when PPD has worn down to your bones, I want you to say “Today, I won.” because you did.
Keep fighting. You are worth it.
SEEK HELP. Don't be ashamed to seek treatment. Speak to your doctor or healthcare professional.
Educate yourself about PPD, it's symptoms and methods of treatment. www.postpartumprogress.com is the perfect place to start.
Find other moms who are going through the same battle. Whether it's online or in person, build yourself a support group of women and mothers who can talk, laugh, cry, scream, and celebrate your victories with you.
Celebrate your victories, no matter how small or trivial they may seem. Seriously, if you brushed your teeth today, get up and do a happy dance about it. If you managed a smile or a small laugh-celebrate it, brag about it to someone who will do the same.
Write. Write it out. Everything, all your emotions, pour everything out onto paper in a journal or on a computer screen.
Don't be afraid to be honest with yourself about how you're feeling and what you're experiencing.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Know that this gets better. It might seem like the light at the end of the tunnel doesn't exist or that it's too far to reach, but it's there and you can reach it. Don't give up. EVER.
Find support. Even if you live in a remote area, making it hard to find an in-person support group or lean on your friends and family, there is always support--don't rule out the power of an online support group, even one on a social media site like Facebook or Twitter. For me, finding the #ppdchat on Twitter was a key aspect of my recovery from PPD and PPA, along with therapy and blogging/journaling. The women I met online, who were experiencing many of the same things I was, reminded me as often as necessary of the progress I made and helped keep me on track with it.
Bookmark Postpartum Progress on your computer. It's an invaluable resource.
Talk about what you're feeling. You'd be surprised how many other women have been through it but haven't spoken up about it. In my experience, as soon as I opened up to a few family members and friends, I learned that so many of them had been through the same thing. I learned from them and leaned on them.
Finally, remember: you will get through this. You will be ok. "Everything will be OK in the end; if it's not OK, it's not the end."
Seek support from your immediate family and not be afraid to open up about what is going on with you.
Reach out. Be honest about your struggle. Keep speaking up until your family, friends, caregiver respond and you get the help you need.
GET HELP. Talk about it. Write about it. Tell someone about it.
First, don't take no for an answer. If you feel off, talk to your doctor. You don't have to have intrusive or suicidal thoughts to have PPD or PPA. If your doctor doesn't listen? Find a new one. Remember, you pay them to provide you with quality care.
You CAN be a good mom and have this illness. You CAN breastfeed and take medication. You CAN find a therapist that is qualified who will work with your budget limitations. You WILL get through this.
If you feel like you're struggling, you're not alone. Don't be afraid to reach out. What I found was that once I opened up, others weren't so afraid to admit they were also struggling.
Don't be ashamed to ask for help. Not just asking for help for your mental health but for everything. It's so hard sometimes to say look I need you to do ____ especially to a spouse but sometimes getting help on those little everyday things frees up the mental space you need to take care of yourself.
Surround yourself with love and support. If someone "doesn't get it" or is emotionally draining you you need to get them out of your life, at least temporarily so you can focus on you and your family.
When you have PPD you feel a lot of emotional pain as well as physical exhaustion. First, hugs for the hard. Don't use up your precious energy on fighting yourself or your depression. Healing cannot happen in a war zone. Try to shift your perspective from fighting to interacting with your pain and guilt. I call this process Permission-Based Healing:
Permission-Based Healing is about learning the gentle art of Self-Kindness -- the process of healing through interacting with your pain rather than fighting it tooth and nail. Why be a warrior if the detective and the scientist heal first?
Permission-Based Healing means meeting yourself where you are.
It means allowing yourself to hate where you are.
It means allowing yourself to hate yourself while hoping to love yourself someday (even if this feels scary and impossible).
It means being imperfect. Being content with being Very Good Enough, and sometimes no good at all.
Permission-Based Healing is about bringing ease to what is when what is hurts.
It’s about learning from pain. And more than anything else: it’s about learning how to be kind to ourselves when we are in pain.
Learning the gentle art of self kindness saved my life. Literally.
You ARE NOT alone. You will get better; PPD and related disorders are 100% treatable. Reach out for support. Don't just rely on medication alone- take the time and effort to couple meds with therapy- it will help facilitate your healing and recovery. If you and your healthcare provider choose to use a medication-free approach, be sure that you are doing everything you can otherwise to get well...don't drag out the process- it doesn't benefit you or your family to do so.
Find a support group, in person or online, and utilize it. There are so many resources now and women who are willing to be there for you. It is a gift and blessing for them to do it, so don't feel guilty about taking their time- feel good about helping them to use their experience for good!
Look for small accomplishments and joys daily. It takes a lot of effort to notice the good things at first, but if you train your brain to do that from the beginning you will quickly find yourself doing it naturally.
PPD is not your fault and it stinks, but you can and will get better...in the meantime, fight the guilt and fear that will creep in and work to love yourself and your family...you are all worth it!!!
Reach out to friends and family. Isolation makes everything so much worse. Find someone to talk to who you trust and you can let in and just talk.
Talk. Suffering in silence is so isolating and although it takes courage to admit how you are feeling it will get you the help that you need. PPD is such a cruel illness but ultimately it is extremely treatable, the sooner you ask for help the sooner you will be better. Remember that it is an illness, it's not your fault and you are not a bad parent.
You're not alone. PPD is so common, and it's okay to ask for help. Reach out to the communities you can find (online or in person) and we'll back you up. And it will get better.