Ep. 6 – Dads get depressed too with Evan

In this episode of Beyond Postpartum, I got to chat with Evan, who is a father who experienced depression after the birth of his son. A big thank you to Evan for his vulnerability, openness, and willingness to share his story with us. At least 1 in 10 partners will experience depression after the birth of their child (and up to 50% of partners will experience depression or anxiety when the birthing parent is also experiencing perinatal mental illness), so if you are struggling, please know you are not alone. At the end of the episode I go over some of the common signs and symptoms of perinatal mental health challenges in partners, and share some ideas of where to go to get support.

In this episode, Evan and I talk about:

  • Underestimating how difficult having a child would be
  • Moving shortly after having a new baby and why that maybe wasn’t the best idea
  • Becoming a stay-at-home-dad unexpectedly
  • Why the ‘postpartum depression’ label was difficult for Evan to apply to himself
  • Needing support and not being able to get it
  • Not being socialized as a caregiver, and how that made it hard to adjust to being the primary caregiver to his child
  • The emotional struggle of caring for a child
  • Feeling like he wasn’t good enough
  • All the ‘shoulds’ that come with parenting
  • The comments that devalued his role as a father
  • The shame associated with not fulfilling the societal expectations of what a ‘good’ father does
  • Rejecting traditional gender roles in an intellectual capacity, but struggling with the tension of not fulfilling those roles
  • Going back to work after staying home for many years
  • When things started to turn around and things started to get better
  • Finally seeing the qualities that made him a good father
  • How things shifted over time as his son got older and they were able to bond in a new way
  • Feeling bored – and feeling shame about that
  • Not having a support network and feeling isolated
  • Why he didn’t reach out for support at the time
  • If he had had access to support, what would have been helpful
  • Feeling like his struggle was because of his own personal failings, rather than being a reflection of his circumstances and the big changes that come with being a new parent
  • How feelings of self-blame and shame made getting help so much harder
  • The lingering thoughts and feelings about that time that are still with him
  • What ‘healing’ is and what it looks like
  • Learning to develop friendships that are supportive and open
  • One of the toughest parts of parenting
  • The work that society still needs to do in supporting men and fathers to be primary caregivers, and to end the stigma
  • Struggling to find other men to talk openly about mental health struggles with
  • Why caregivers often appear to be ok when they aren’t
  • How and why getting breaks and space has helped us both be better parents and human beings
  • The wise words of advice he would tell himself if he could go back in time

Resources for fathers/men: