Last week I shared on Knoxville Moms Blog a little about my struggles with postpartum depression and ways you can help a loved one who is also battling this illness. Postpartum depression affects as many as 20% of live births, and that’s just those who self-report symptoms! It is also very common after miscarriage and stillbirths. This is so common, yet so isolating. Read on for some first-hand tips on what you can to to help a mom you love.
I never thought I would be affected by postpartum depression. I didn’t have any of the risk factors: I had healthy pregnancies, my husband and family were supportive and helpful, and I had no previous history of mental illness. So when depression came knocking at my door after my second child was born, not only was I shocked, but I felt so ashamed. I’m better than this, I told myself, as though I could reason my way out of it. That line of thinking only led me to more shame and ultimately deeper into depression.
Thankfully a gentle older mom at my church reached out to me. Actually, she reached out to my husband one Sunday while I was still staying home with the baby. “If she ever feels depressed, tell her to call me,” she said. “I mean it!” Jeremy came home and told me about her offer, taken back by her forwardness. I acted as surprised as he was, deep down wishing I had the courage to approach this woman whom I barely knew. A few months later, I reached my breaking point and finally confessed my struggle to my husband. He held me, comforted me, and gently whispered, “You need to call Dawn.”
I did call Dawn, who turned out to be a peer counselor for moms with postpartum depression, or PPD. She gave me great tips – try to sleep at regular intervals, do light exercise for a combined 20 minutes a day (even if that’s 5 minutes at a time), soak up the sunlight, limit sugar intake… All this is great advice, but I probably could have found it on a website or blog. What she really gave me – and what I really needed – was a friend. She let me know I was not alone and that it was okay to ask from help, both from friends and from my doctor. She was there for me when I felt all alone.
If you know a mom who is battling PPD (or another mood disorder), here are some ways you can help:
Click here to see the rest of this post on Knoxville Moms Blog! Also, please check out the links below for more information on postpartum depression and other postpartum mood disorders.