Depression is not an easy thing to handle. Some folks struggle with it their entire lives, while others could be completely unaware they're living with it. New moms happen to be especially susceptible to postpartum depression (PPD), and I know from experience that this particular brand of depression isn't nearly talked about enough. That has to change, so I asked moms to reveal the one thing they wish they told themselves when they had postpartum depression. Turns out, the silence surrounding what an estimated 10 to 15 percent of women suffer from has kept women from being kind to themselves. And, if anything, kindness is one of the most important things any new mom needs.
While it wasn't entirely shocking, I realized that most moms who suffered through postpartum depression wish they could go back and tell themselves it wouldn't last forever. Others would offer their former selves strength and understanding and patience. When you have PPD, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, to withdraw from others, and to feel incapable of connecting with others around you. Some new moms feel completely empty and separate from the rest of the world, as though all their senses have dulled. Others have more physical symptoms, like an inability to sleep, or trouble eating. Experiences with postpartum depression are as varied as the women who suffer through them, which means how we talk about postpartum depression needs to be inclusive.
If you’ve had PPD, what would you want to tell your former self? Personally, I’d tell myself that I actually don’t have to feel this way, and that there are ways to get better. I would have been kinder to myself, and more understanding, and I would have held space for my sleep deprived, new-mom self to feel whatever it is I was feeling in the moment. Turns out, I'm not alone. Here's what other moms would go back and tell themselves, if they could: