There was a period in my life a couple years ago when I suffered with some serious depression. Mental illness runs pretty heavily in my family. I figured I had been caught in the downward current of debilitating sadness and was about to give in.
But through some serious mental exercise and challenging my inner self, I was able to overcome what I thought was going to consume my life and the relationships I had.
So when I got pregnant there was suddenly this horror of Postpartum Depression. I spent much time in a state of dread because there was nothing I wanted more than this angel of doom to pass over my door. I was sure I would deal with it because of my history.
Surprisingly enough I ended up feeling more depression while being pregnant than after. I had read a lot on how to combat the postpartum so I did my best to start these simple things immediately after James was born.
Do your hair and makeup
The day after he was born I ditched that crazy nursing gown and got into some normal clothes. I had a friend of mine come and hang out with me for a while and braid my hair. I did my eyebrows and it was wonderful.
I refused to focus on how much weight I had to lose or if I was going to have saggy skin or not. I just took a deep breath and accepted where I was at.
Not saying this is something easy to do. I just kept telling myself over and over again that I would feel normal eventually, which I eventually did.
Go for walks ASAP
I made sure to be active as much as I could handle. I took a very short walk around the block the day we got home from the hospital! I was sore but I just went as far as I could. That eased me into the mindset that eventually I would be able to feel healthy again.
I was not going to feel sorry for myself because I had pain. I was obviously a super hero because I just pushed a baby out of a hole ten times too small!
Let the sunlight in and get outside
Keep the blinds and curtains open all day long! It was still really cold outside in March but the sun was setting later and later so I took advantage of that. I love the sun and attribute a small part of my mental stability to its natural light.
Being outside is so wonderful. Just writing this makes me want to go outside for a minute and take a deep inhale of the fresh air. It did me wonders when I was stressed.
Do not be afraid to ask dad for help
This was a tough one for me. For some reason I felt like I was the only capable human to take care of my child. I had a hard time letting Tim do anything for or with James. I was a control freak about how things were to be done.
Tim sat me down a couple times and opened my eyes to the fact that he was James’s father and just because he did things differently than me did not make them wrong.
After this I slowly learned to lean on him to help raise our child. Because let’s face it. It takes a lot of time and can be really stressful to take care of a tiny human that cannot communicate the things they need and want.
Why do it alone if you do not have to.
Take time to do the things you used to
I felt so anxious to leave James with someone else, even Tim! But getting out to go to the gym or see a friend helped me to feel mentally healthy and also gave Tim some time to get comfortable taking care of James alone.
I know people say all the time how important it is to take time for yourself and I honestly felt that advice was for sissies. But I have been converted! I love going to the grocery store alone or even going out to the back yard to do a quick yoga/meditation session.
Time away helps me to clear my mind and when I come back I feel rejuvenated and ready to go again.
The stirring of life does slowly settle. Normalcy does return. But it is a new normal. This new normal takes time to find. And I honestly feel that the postpartum depression comes because our lives turn completely upside down and we lost who we were.
We are no longer who we used to be and that happens in one moment without warning. We feel out of control and weird. It can feel tight and lost and crowded and different inside our minds.
Kill the negative thoughts because they will come. It took some time but I learned that I have power over what I think and feel about myself and my environment. It takes discipline but it is so healthy for our minds. One day at a time. Even one moment if that’s what it takes.