Such an important issue. I’m a support counellor/faciliator at the Pacific Post Partum Support Society and am passionate about the work I do, it is part of my life and not just my “job”. I have 3 grown children. Pregnancy and postpartum is the most vulnerable time for a Mom to experience emotional and mental health concerns. For many of us there is the tendency present already and being pregnant, adopting, giving birth can be the trigger.
Dads too. I saw this in my husband, he had a difficult adjustment and worried about me. When I began to get better, he experienced his own reaction, his well being had been compromised. I experienced debilitating anxiety, I became very ill. I became focused on traumatic experiences I’d had as a child, I didn’t want to focus on them but they were just there, in my dreams, in my present life, these came up because they needed attention, support and a path to healing. I had terrible intrusive thoughts, I felt I was losing my mind and because this is many years ago now, there was not as much known about ITs and perinatal depression/anxiety/adjustment generally, thankfully there is much more known and there are names and research that help us understand better.
I suffered a great deal and it greatly interrupted my life, compromised my family health and my personal health. I considered suicide. I thought my child/children was better off without me. My thinking was distorted, of course my child would not be better off without me. I was in a constant state of fear and overwhelm. I couldn’t sleep or eat, I lost so much weight. I didn’t know myself very well at that point in my life and so I did all the wrong things in progressing to wellness. This changed…and….I can also say that this experience enriched my life!! Yes enriched my life….Sounds strange I’m sure to anyone reading this. Not at the time, but as I regained my health and got to know myself better it opened up a much richer life for me and for my family. Fortunately I was able to reach out eventually, and when something I tried didn’t work out or was minimally helpful, I’d look for another way. I was tenacious. Without this I don’t think I’d have had any hope, hope was so tenuous as it was.
Little by little things improved. A wonderful counsellor, a great therapist, the group at the Pacific Post Partum Support Society, friends that encouraged me, family that started to help more. Learning about self-care, giving myself permission to reach out, to ask for help, to hire help even though it was hard to afford. I took medication a times, I saw a naturopath and many other things because it was a process and having had ppd/a twice out of the 3 times I had a child I had to work at it little by little. There were a number of layers. Talking to the counsellor on the phone at PPPSS was the greatest avenue I had to the hope that grew and as I entered into a Moms group at PPPSS and sat with other women including the facilitator , she’d been there and got better! That was so encouraging to know she had been there and was now experiencing her life in a happy way, and dealing with the things that came up! The other women in the group truly had understanding of what was happening, we Moms were all on a journey and we had one another to do this with. It wasn’t easy but it was so wonderful to have other caring people in a circle. We were able to validate and underscore what we saw in one another as the good qualities each had. The group became a life line for me. We were able to support one another to be “good enough” Moms, perfection does not exist.
My therapist Sandra Knight taught me this concept to be a “good enough” Mom, to have a “good enough” time, being “good enough” was okay. I still use this concept and also pass it along to others, to Moms especially. Society holds Moms to an unrealistic standard. it’s no surprise that Moms are hard on themselves, they’ve been taught and supported to do so. We may have seen our own Moms and other women in our families and communities doing the same. When we talk about these issues we break down these myths and pave the way to a happier life as Moms… as people. I stayed involved with PPPSS because I was so impressed by this little organization that did such huge work, I wanted to be part of it. Have met so many amazing women and men. I’m eternally grateful
I experienced postpartum depression and anxiety after weaning my first daughter. I was 9 months postpartum when it hit.
I didn’t recognize myself – I felt fragile, vulnerable, unable to cope, and overwhelmed. One of my biggest worries was that this was my new normal, the new me. This terrified me.
With a lot of support and time I did get better, and although I still struggle with both depression/anxiety, I am better equipped to handle it when it descends.
Everyone told me that I would get better but I truly didn’t believe it. To any new mother that is struggling with the adjustment to motherhood, do not let your postpartum journey define you.
This is not the new you. You WILL get better, it just takes time. You are a great mom.
We’re In This Together is a photography series, coordinated in partnership with the Pacific Post Partum Support Society and the Good Mother Project, that offers messages of encouragement, hope, support and love to new parents.
For more information on how you can share your message, please visit: http://goodmotherproject.com/were-in-this-together