We first met Tamara through her blog, Discovering Parenthood. We admired her openness and honesty about her journey through postpartum depression. At our request, she has written this guest post.
Thank you, Tamara for sharing what has been helpful during your recovery.
I found myself dealing with postpartum depression very soon after my daughter’s birth. I was overwhelmed with being a first time Mom, and I also had my hands full supporting my little girl who was suffering from severe reflux, and ptosis of the eyelid.
It took a little while for me to fully admit, and to address that this was what I was going through, and that it was also okay to be going through it. I had no reason to be embarrassed about it, or to hide it.
I have been through times of depression before, so I knew that there was a strong possibility that postpartum depression may occur after the birth of my daughter. I went through denial about it, anger about it, and through thinking that I just needed to change some things in my lifestyle. Eventually I got to a place where I knew I needed to address what I was up against.
It took me a little over nine months to finally feel like I was conquering this mountain in my life, and to start to feel like myself again. I am still addressing postpartum depression on a daily basis, but I am getting there. There are a few things that helped me along the way.
I knew all of the red flags, signs, and symptoms of postpartum depression. My husband also knew them. Together this helped for us both to realize what was going on, and why I felt the way I did. This helped me to get to a place where I knew what I was up against, and that I could not go at it on my own.
I suspected that I was walking a fine line that was bringing me near postpartum, and I knew when I was completely dealing with full on postpartum depression. I went and talked to my doctor. My doctor was a huge help in helping me decide what direction I wanted to go with help in dealing with postpartum depression. We talked about different sorts of medication options; we talked about counselling, about even just having someone to confide in about what was going on, and so much more. This was a huge moment for me, as it was also the moment when I first realized that I could and would get through this. It was also when we figured out a plan to help me start dealing with my postpartum depression.
- Being confident in the path I took
I went with the option that was best for me, and my family, and what fits into our life style. This ties back to why talking to my doctor was so important. I knew that I needed to deal with this for my baby, for my husband, and for myself. I was not going to let anything make me feel ashamed for getting help in some form.
- Getting back into what I loved, taking time for myself, and trying something new
I have always enjoyed crafts, and painting. I soon started to realize that some days I needed time to myself, time to do something I loved and enjoyed. Doing something that made me happy was a great push in the direction I needed to go. I had forgotten to do things that once would have always done, I was consumed with taking care of my daughter, that I never made time for even just a few minutes to draw. I started to do craft projects, and I also started blogging as a way of sharing and it also became a great way to remember the good things. I also made sure to take time for myself. I took the time some evenings to paint my nails, to read a book, or to even enjoy a nice warm shower or bath and to not feel rushed in doing so. I always felt human again after taking time for myself.
I found a couple people who are very close to me, who I could confide in and share how I was feeling. I also started to let others know what I was going through and ask for their support. Talking to my husband, and letting him know how I was feeling each day was a major stepping-stone. I am one who often just tucks away all my emotions, and just does not share about what I am feeling, or how I am doing. I needed to talk; I needed to express what was going on. Doing this helped not only me, but also helped those around me to understand what was going on for me even just on a day-to-day basis. It also helped me to know that I was not alone, that others have gone through this too.
The need for sleep was huge. When my daughter had her waves of poor sleep during the night, which in turn made me get little sleep, I noticed that was when I really struggled. Some days I just had to ignore the housework, and go take a nap when she was napping. I had many people remind me that sleep is what helps to keep a mom functioning at her best. This was so true for me.
I started walking with my daughter, and with my husband. We made it family time to get out and about. Even if we just took a quick walk around the neighbourhood or a walk on a trail at one of the local parks. Walking has so many health benefits. I always felt so much happier after going for a walk. My daughter also loves being outside, seeing her smile and be full of joy on our walks also started to make me feel the same way.
- Making a commitment to smile
When my daughter was five months old I made a commitment to always smile at her. Some days I did find it to be so incredibly difficult to smile, and to just be full of happiness around her and for her. I needed to smile though; I needed to show her how much I loved her. She gave me smiles and giggles so freely; I needed to do the same for her. Her smiles and giggles were a source of encouragement for me.
These are some of the things from my own, personal experience that helped me. Your safety and the safety of your baby are of the utmost importance. Please seek professional help if you need assistance.
What things did you find helpful in dealing with postpartum depression?
Cindy and Jana are Registered Nurses and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants who have assisted over 20,000 families.
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