It’s been eight long winding years since I went through this. But even today, when i recall that phase, my toes curl up. I feel like I had imagined it all up. Or worse… it was very real, but the person it happened to, wasn’t me. That’s the impact of postpartum depression.
I remember screaming at my 10-day-old baby because she refused to sleep. My mother was watching me. For someone who feels if there is an opinion, it needs to be voiced, she was quite calm. After an hour or so, she says, “Do you know what you did a while back? You yelled at an infant who had no idea what was going on. Have you lost your mind?” Had I? I don’t know. It’s not like I couldn’t make sense of the futility or foolishness of shouting at a baby, and my very own at that! But I was going through a twisted concoction of emotions that I couldn’t put a finger on. I hadn’t heard of postpartum depression.
No, I didn’t live in a cave and yes, I’d done enough research on everything to do with pregnancy. I just missed out on the post-pregnancy details and so, when my doctor mentioned it, I felt a tinge of joy (at the fact that it’s quite common) and sorrow (at the fact that I actually thought I was going mad). So when I read up this article which says that postpartum mood disorders involve fundamentally different brain activity from those not occurring in new mothers, I felt a kick of crazy nostalgia.
According to this report, the highest rates of anxiety and depression in mothers occur during the first few weeks, months, or year post delivery as compared with at other times in a women’s life. But then, why is postpartum depression such a hush hush topic, almost as if it doesn’t exist or is a figment of an ‘exhausted’ mum’s imagination?
As is with every issue, acknowledging the existence of an issue is most vital to cope with it. Here are some more tips on coping with postpartum depression for the new mums:
- Be kind to yourself: Yes, you are a mum. But you are also an individual with certain basic needs. It’s okay to tend to those without feeling guilty.
- Tackle one day at a time: As much as the colicky infant is driving you up the wall, and the household chores need to be done and the elder one needs to be dropped to school, tackle one thing at a time. You are your best version and you are doing your best. Believe it.
- Seek support. Delegate chores. Ask for help. Being a good mother doesn’t mean you do EVERYTHING for the baby. It means you do all that you can without exhausting yourself and delegate the rest to responsible adults around. You are just one of the two parents.
How I wish I knew this at the right time. For me, the most difficult thing was faking a smile when friends and family would say things like, ‘aren’t you a proud momma now”. Don’t get me wrong. I loved that tiny bundle in my arms. I just had no grip on my mood swings. That stray visit to my doctor helped me pull myself out of the labyrinth I thought I’d never get out of. Seek help. That’s the primary piece of advice I’d have for all new mums who want to shush that nagging voice in your head that says something is wrong.
Also READ: This Singapore mum and baby did not deserve to die!
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