The 6 Most Important Steps to Deal with PostPartum Depression
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Dealing with being a stay at home mom is hard. I never knew how hard until I became one. I always thought being a stay at home mom would be wonderful. I thought I would keep the house clean, I would teach the kids to help me around the house, and when we were done with our chores we would play together. I would walk them to the park and have some time to gossip and chat with other moms. There would be sunshine and rainbows, but the truth is, being a stay at home mom is hard. It is very hard, but it’s something you don’t know how hard it can be until you are deep in the trenches of being a mother. Add depression to the difficulty of being a stay at home mom, and every day will be a challenge.
Our Hormones Are Out to Get Us
My hormones are all wonky all the time on a normal occasion. I have PCOS brought on by my weight. This caused me a lot of issues in actually conceiving Sebastian, and I think was also the cause for my early first trimester miscarriage before I became pregnant with Sebastian. If you watch “This Is Us” and watched the season 3 premier, 9 Bucks, that conversation Kate had with the fertility specialist was half me. I didn't have anyone deny me, but I did have the, “You have PCOS, most probably brought on by your weight, so conceiving will be much harder for you unless you lose the weight” conversation with my doctors. And this conversation happened with my doctors at the ripe old age of 34.
Talk about having a clock ticking in my head!
Once I finally did conceive, there was the nervousness of the pregnancy itself, and everything had to be perfect. I can't drink coffee (this is like death for me!), you have to moderate your sugar intake. More greens, remember your vitamins, drink lots of water, and on, and on. Yet, somehow, with Sebastian I was determined to be at peace. I did yoga, I practiced meditation and breathing. I made sure to keep toxic thoughts and relationships away from me. And for the most part, it worked. I was doing great until I reached 36 weeks and was told he was breach and if he didn't turn soon, I was going to be scheduled for a c-section I didn’t want.
If you're a mom - or even if you're not and you do a lot of reading - you may know that once women give birth, their hormone counts drop which is what causes postpartum depression. Some women deal with it better than others, but if you’re predisposed to depression like I am, then pregnancy and childbirth can be like a rollercoaster ride. As much as I love my kids and wanted to have them, the very act of having them just throws my emotions for a loop. I tried as hard as I could to deal with my depression without medication with Sebastian. I tried for a year and I finally realized I couldn't deal with it on my own. Between his unexpected birth 3 weeks early, his extreme jaundice that caused hospitalization, and the issues we had breastfeeding, on top of trying to heal from a C-section, I was worn out. Everything was Sebastian all day every day. I wasn't sleeping, I wasn't taking care of myself and I had very little support on a day-to-day basis.
Dealing with the Day to day
It can be really defeating to deal with depression and the day-to-day needs of children and running a house because sometimes, those two things don not go hand in hand.
Kids are messy. My kids are especially messy. If you like having a clean house like I do, this can lead to a lot of issues because as much as I like having a clean house, I don't like to clean. I especially don't like to clean the same thing over and over again. Because of this, I have become a master procrastinator about cleaning the house, and it just got worse when I added a kid because I could spend the whole entire day cleaning every inch of my house; the very moment I turn my back for 5 minutes, it will look like a bomb went off and they will destroy all my hard work. At the end of the day when my husband comes home from work, it will look like I haven't accomplished a single thing. Just getting dishes loaded into the dishwasher can be a big deal because while I'm loading, a kid will either be trying to unload what I'm loading or will insist that the door needs to be closed even though I am not done. Having to fight to do a simple chore like that makes me hate cleaning up even more and staring at the mess day in and day out just brings me down.
6 Steps that can help
Get out of the house! This helps break up the monotony of the day. Sometimes, just going out to do groceries or walking around the mall aimlessly helped. I also started taking my son to the zoo and to mommy and me groups. Being outside, in the sun, in nature and having conversations with other moms helped me tremendously.
See your doctor. I shouldn't even have to say this. If you're feeling down, talk to your doctor. If you're against medication, that's fine, they can also run tests to see if there is a vitamin deficiency that needs to be dealt with and can cause your depression.
Talk to Someone. It doesn't have to be a therapist. It could be your mom, your husband, your best friend, or even the old lady at the grocery store that’s looking at you knowingly and lovingly. I can't tell you how many times I've done just that, to the point that I wondered if the woman thought I was totally insane after I left, but in the end it was just what I needed at that moment. Just vent your feelings out someone to help you work through them.
Get a sitter. We all need some “Me Time”. Get a sitter, go out and pamper yourself however you want. If that is getting a mani/pedi, go for it. If that entails going to a local coffee shop and just reading a book in peace, great. The point is to give yourself a break because as much as you are rocking this mom gig, even rockstar moms like you need a break every once in a while.
Set a routine. I know you hear this everywhere - make a routine for your child. Set a play routine, a bedtime routine, a homework routine, a routine for a routine, but setting a routine really does help. It lets your kids know what is happening and when, and a bedtime routine lets them know when it's time to go down with little fuss (because there will always be some kind of a fuss) and you can get your moment to breathe, probably for the first time all day.
Practice Yoga and/or Meditation. This has always helped me. I have not practiced it as much as I used to and I'm really missing it. I even tried to get Sebastian involved, but his yoga involvement lasted all of 2 minutes before he got bored and left. I haven't given up though; I will try again with the kids and see how it goes. If you can't get the kids involved because like my son, they have the attention span of a fly and getting them to participate is more stressful than it is relaxing, find a sitter if you need to and go to a class. Or get really good sound cancelling headphones (I swear by these from Bose), put them on, and practice 5 minutes of breathing.
As much as mothers do for their kids, we always seem to forget to care for ourselves too. I know I am horrible about caring for myself and using some of the steps above, I am making baby steps towards feeling better about myself and my role as a mother.