Well this has been quite a trip. Many months ago my husband started bugging me about writing a blog. I knew that I wanted to do it, and I knew I’d really enjoy it! But I also knew that once I start something I’m not always so great about sticking with it, and I didn’t want to add yet another hobby or idea to the pile. But this is the one for me, I know that now. This blog has gotten me through some pretty dark days and it’s the best thing I’ve done in a long, long time.
I’ve been meaning to write another PPD post for a while now, and tonight is definitely the night. I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, both good and bad, and I love coming here to get it all out!
I have been thinking a lot about all the poor mamas around the world who are suffering through PPD, whether it’s mild or severe, and I wonder if they are getting the support that they need. After my second was born I can see now that I was very clearly in PPD hell but didn’t know it. I found out much later that some people in my life wondered to each other if I was depressed. On a few occasions, I even found myself in the middle of a confrontation because someone was angry or disappointed in me for not “acting like myself” or seeming unhappy or uninterested. I look back now and I wonder why on earth would people who love me only talk to each OTHER or get angry at me, but never try to help me? I realize now that I likely DID seem to be a very different person, and to some extent I likely still seem that way. But I wasn’t physically or emotionally able to give anything more. I was completely and utterly BROKEN inside and instead of trying to help me, or understand me, or even just BE there for me, some people wrote me off. I actually have relationships that I truly don’t think will ever be the same again, and it absolutely tears me up inside, it’s so sad. But there’s nothing I can do. I cannot make someone understand where I’ve been and what I am going through. It’s certainly made me more empathetic to others, that’s for sure. I am always reminded that I really know nothing of anyone else’s journey.
I’ve learned to judge less, and listen more.
I think the world in general could use a little dose of that, no?
Initially, this blog was for moms and really it still is. I was reaching out to anyone else who might be struggling and letting them know they are not alone. I still believe in this message, but there is another group that I’d like to address tonight. These people have the power to ease the pain of Postpartum Depression. These people can make or break our day, and with just one look or a single word can make us either burst into laughter, or into tears.
These people are the husbands. Tonight, I am talking to you.
I have a good husband. He loves me and truly wants what is best for me, and our family. He laughingly goes along with the whole “Happy wife, Happy life” mantra and when the shit really hits the fan, he’s there. The day that I finally broke down and begged for help, he dropped EVERYTHING. He took a day off work, he said he’d do anything he could to help me get better, and FEEL better. He has been involved and an active participant in my recovery. But at the same time, I know in my heart that I would have been able to face my demons a lot sooner if I’d felt a little safer letting him see how broken I was.
Every couple argues, that is just a fact. Couples who are married with children and a wife suffering from depression likely argue even more. And more likely than not, once in a while words come flying out that we wish we could shove back into our mouths as soon as they’ve left. My husband and I are both guilty of it and there MAY have been a time or two when I was flipping out or falling apart or crying for seemingly no reason when my husband, out of sheer frustration and annoyance, snapped at me that I needed to be medicated or seek help. Ouch. Talk about hitting a nerve. My immediate reaction? Deny it, act intensely shocked/hurt and APPALLED at such a ridiculous accusation, and then storm away.
Not exactly the most productive conversation for someone who really DID need to be medicated and seek help, huh?
If my husband had come to me, wrapped his arms around me and asked me with sincere concern what was wrong, maybe I’d have told him the truth and begun my journey towards happiness a lot sooner.
(At this juncture I would like to pause and reflect upon all the blogs that are out there with the photos of smiling families in matching outfits and recipes for cupcakes and tutorials for DIY home renos… why can’t I be one of THOSE blogs? Are they real? There’s no way that people can only experience sunny days full of icing sugar and beautiful paint chips and shabby chic armoire makeovers, is there?? Anyway, back to reality…)
Husbands, if you suspect that your wife is coming apart at the seams, what she needs from you more than ANYTHING in the world is patience. Just PATIENCE. She may cry, or zone out. She might not have the laundry done or dinner ready. She might forget things, or misplace things, or accidently burn/shrink/lose the meal/sweater/keys, but that’s okay. She is still your wife, the woman you love. Inside she is the same woman that you once found sexy and smart and engaging. The problem is that SHE doesn’t know where that person has gone. It is your JOB to help her find her way back. Let her lean on you, let her talk. You cannot be her solution, but you can help lead her to one that works for her. Maybe that will be therapy, or time alone, or seeing her doctor or exercise. Maybe it will be a combination of many things. But it won’t last forever, and the best thing you can do for her is to just BE there.
While she is struggling to find the woman you fell in love with,
YOU need to be the man that SHE fell in love with.
Let her know that whatever she is going through is okay. Remind her that you will be there, that you are her rock. Even if she pushes you away, just be there. She needs you.
Now – back to my girls!
I remind you once again that us moms need to SUPPORT EACH OTHER! No mama bashing! No competition! I don’t care if your kid sleeps 17 hours a night and started walking at 3 months. First of all, you LIE. And secondly, it doesn’t matter to me. I am perfectly happy with my kids just the way they are. Okay wait, now I’M lying… my youngest just turned 9 months and she’s waking up like 3 times a night and I HATE IT.. but that’s my own issue. I cannot let her cry, it kills me. But I digress.
It is my mission in life to bring moms together and create a community of support, understanding and sisterhood. Telling someone that you have PPD should be no more difficult or embarrassing than telling someone you have a cold. I’m not sure when such a sense of shame and failure became attached to it, but maybe that is just the nature of PPD itself – we are overwhelmed and feel like nothing we do is enough. But it IS enough. We are enough.
It’s funny, when my high school boyfriend broke up me with waaaaaaay back in 1995 I was SO devastated. I was just about to graduate and I was suddenly just lost and really sad. A few months later as I prepared to move away to university I bought a new journal to document my fresh start, and for some reason I wrote “Onwards & upwards” on the cover. It became my own personal motto, and to this day I think of it often.
In life you will have great days, and some not so great… but if you can just keep putting one foot in front of the other? Well, that’s forward motion… and sometimes that’s all you need.
PS: I got my husband’s green light before sharing this post tonight. He is my partner and I am not ever going to write about our personal experiences without him being okay with it. However, on the flip side of that coin is HIS perspective, and lucky for us, he has agreed to share it. Over the next week he will be writing a post of his own, chronicling what it has been like for him during this journey. I look forward to learning more of his thoughts on the topic, and can’t wait to share it with you as soon as it’s complete!