By Karen Bannister
I have a long history with the little devil I call postpartum mood disorders. And so when I moved to the province of BC, pregnant with my third child, I knew I needed support. I had come from an amazing care situation – I had ready access to a compassionate counsellor and someone with whom I had a rich history of trust and understanding. I was nervous about relinquishing my story, and support in my wellness, to someone new. But I was very aware that I needed a shoulder to lean on.
I had attended group support meetings in the past, and found them to be very helpful. But as I was just learning my way around a new neighbourhood, and with two young kids already at home, I felt I needed something that better fit into my hectic schedule. I made use of Pacific Post Partum Support Society’s telephone support service.
At first I just called. I wasn’t sure what my end objective was, or how they could help, I just knew that I needed to gather my resources in time for my son’s birth. I also suffered from prenatal anxiety, and so connecting early was a large part of my own stability. I immediately connected with Linda, not only was she warm, encouraging and very helpful but I don’t remember feeling even an ounce of awkwardness speaking with her. She gave me a lot of resources to read through, though I felt pretty seasoned after my two previous bouts with mental illness, and we continued to speak at my discretion.
After the birth of my son, and in the crucial time period of 3-6 months postpartum when my other two experiences with postpartum depression had surfaced, I was in weekly or bi-weekly contact with Linda. She would call to see “how I was doing” and we would chat for about 20 minutes about my feelings, thoughts and what was happening in my life. Though I remained quite well, given the severity of my previous battles with PPD, having Linda to talk to each week made a world of difference. It felt like a piece of security knowing that no matter what happened, I could talk about it with Linda when she called. If I needed to, I could call earlier and talk to her or another support worker.
Talking to someone about PPD is validating. It made me feel as though what was happening to me wasn’t my fault and that there were ways of coping with it so it didn’t overwhelm me. It gave me perspective, when sometimes I was too lost inside of myself. Linda was really helpful at building strategies with me. When a problem presented myself, she calmly said, let’s look at how to solve this.
While medication and constant monitoring by a psychiatrist was also part of my care plan, I found my connection with Linda to be the piece that has had the most lasting impact on me. And when my other support systems fell away at 1 year postpartum, because they do unfortunately, I still had Linda and the rest of the team at Pacific Post Partum Support Society. I think what they offer is incredibly valuable.
Karen is a writer and marketing strategist who lives on the West Coast with her husband and three children. She is the editor of this blog.