If there's one thing I've learned from surviving postpartum depression and anxiety, it's that there's something to be learned from everything we experience, even if it's not apparent as we're going through it. If you're wondering how to get through postpartum depression because you're in the thick of it, or you're pregnant and worried you may end up having it after you give birth, I'm here to tell you that, if nothing else, you're not alone.
I think the two hardest things about battling postpartum depression are the stigma attached to feeling badly when you have a new baby, and actually reaching out for help. I remember people telling me that "the Baby Blues are normal" whenever I said I felt "off." Sure, feeling all kinds of different ways after giving birth is totally normal, but it's important that when a new mom says she feels off, that people listen to her, and ask her more questions. Because that word "normal" can either serve as a strengthening, validating, reassuring thing, or it can be used to dismiss and discount and look past some very real, decidedly not normal problems.
So many new moms, myself included, often try to just power through whenever we feel like something's wrong. We do this for a variety of reasons: It's scary to ask for help, as it is time-consuming; it's embarrassing; and hey, you've managed to get by so far, right? Well, it's possible you're one of the "lucky" ones who can manage without telling anybody, right? Maybe if you just don't say anything, this unshakable feeling of things being "off" will go away, and you'll have gotten through it without anyone else knowing about it (and subsequently judging you for it). And this very well might be true; maybe you could just hunker down within yourself and get through these issues on your own — but at what cost would you be doing so?
In the end, only you can determine what’s best, if this is something you’re going through. What I will tell you, though, is that when you finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, you will recognize the strength that you have gained for having survived such a difficult time. Here's how:
You Understand Your Limits Better
At a certain point, you learn when to say no, because that's the only way to survive. There were days when I just couldn't be social, despite having a social event to attend. I had to listen to myself, so that I wouldn't burn myself out mentally.
Hopefully, You Are Better Able To Accept Help When It's Offered — And Ask For It When It's Not
A lot of moms try to go it alone during the hardest time in their lives, but PPD can help you realize that when you accept help, you're actually helping everyone around you too.
You Know Better Than To Listen To The Haters
The people who seem to think that PPD isn't real? You tear that sh*t down fast, because you know better.
You're Aware Of The Signs Of PPD, And Make Sure Other Moms Are Being Supported
Every mom I know who's been through PPD spends the rest of her life looking out for other moms. We know how hard it can be, and how easy it is for friends and family to miss the signs.
When You Start To Feel Like Yourself Again, It Feels Even Better Than It Did Before
Honestly, as I came out the other side of this disease and started to notice beautiful things again, and started to smile and laugh with less of the bitter edge I'd developed, it felt so sweet. I appreciated those moments so much more than I had before.
You Advocate For Yourself (And Others) Better Than You Ever Would've Been Able To Before
When you experience any of the stigma attached to PPD, it really builds your character and motivates you to stand up for others who are stigmatized.
You Learn That Helping Yourself Also Helps Those You Love
Have you heard of that analogy? The one about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first before trying to put one on someone who can't do it themselves? This is so huge, guys. We need to take care of ourselves so that we have the strength to take care of those who need it.
You Become A Warrior — And You're Ready For Every Battle That Could Come Your Way After That
Whether or not you realize it, when you go through postpartum depression and/or anxiety, you've entered into a tribe of women who will support and encourage each other, through online communities and in person. They will love and accept you, you just need to look for them (and trust me, we don't hide).