There are about a hundred reasons why being a mom is challenging, but struggling with postpartum depression (PPD) is perhaps the most challenging. I think that's because there are so many expectations placed on moms that often imply how a mom should and shouldn't feel. Sometimes those expectations can come from trustworthy sources, too, which makes it all the more difficult to fight against them. Whether it's your partner, your doctor, or your family member, there are things about postpartum depression that dads just don't get a say in, no matter how much they care about you or how desperately they want to help.
You see, no one has the right to tell you what to feel, especially when they haven't been through it themselves. The men in our lives can (hopefully) try to understand, but the fact is, they will never have the hormones, the emotions, the physical trials and tribulations (and much, much more) that new moms go through. Anyone who tries to invalidate your experience is really only endangering you. You don't need someone making you feel like you're broken, because you're not broken.
With that said, if someone is pressuring you to be a certain way, telling you that what you're feeling isn't worth taking seriously, go elsewhere to find support. Talk to other moms, find a support group, talk to a professional, because you are not alone and you shouldn't spend a single second ever thinking or feeling like you are. And while your partner (regardless of their gender) will likely try to help you get through postpartum depression, make sure they never, ever, try to have a say in the following things. Honestly, it's not their place.
Whether What You're Feeling Is Valid
Postpartum depression has so many faces so there's no wrong way to feel. You can love your baby but feel trapped. You can resent your new baby and feel no connection to them whatsoever. You can hate yourself. None of these feelings make you any less worthy to be that baby's mom, and every one of those feelings is important to acknowledge. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
That Having PPD Isn't Just About "Being Sad"
Depression doesn't always mean you're sad. It might look like it from the outside, but you may actually be paralyzed with the fear of hurting your baby, or feeling as though you'll never be good enough to be the mother of this child. No one should ever tell you that's all it's about.
Whether You Decide To Go On Medication
Sometimes you need to go on medication for your own safety and wellbeing and for a higher quality of life. Please, don't ever let your partner tell you that medication isn't a necessity or you should forgo it in the name of breastfeeding or any other reason. Your life, and your sanity and your happiness and you know, you, are worth quality care. Sometimes, that quality care is medication.
Whether It's Time To "Get Over It"
Postpartum depression isn't something you simply "get over," and don't let anyone tell you as much. There's no right time frame for experiencing postpartum depression, so no one should ever tell you it's time to "move on." It's not like your body has some kind of internal clock that beeps exactly 12 months after your labor. For me, it lasted closer to 18 months.
Whether Or Not This Is More Than Just The Baby Blues
The "baby blues" happen to a lot of new moms, so I guess it's easy to understand why it's the first thing anyone thinks of. Still, nobody but you knows what's going on inside your brain. If something doesn't feel right with you, and if you can only describe how you're feeling as "off," get help. That was the beginning of PPD for me.
Taking The Time To Get Treatment
I know it can be super stressful in any home when a new baby has been thrown into the mix. With your partner working while trying to help around the house, and also probably not getting enough sleep, it can feel unfair when either parent gets extra time to themselves. It doesn't matter, though. A mother's health, your health, is just as important as the health of anyone else in the home.
How Much Help You Need Around The House
If I ever hear a man ask a new mom what she does at home all day with all that "extra time," it takes pretty much every ounce of strength to control myself. I always want to ask how many times he got puked, peed or pooped on during his day,or how much screaming he had to endure or how many adults he got to have real conversations with.
New moms can easily become overwhelmed with all the things they have to do just to keep the new baby alive, so basic things like putting in laundry or doing the dishes can seem like insurmountable tasks.
Whether You're A Good Enough Mom
There is a good chance that any mom suffering from postpartum depression already thinks she's a horrible mom. Guilt is a huge part of PPD, because society lays down this giant expectation that new moms are supposed to be so happy, loving, grateful, and instantly bonded with their new baby. So many new moms, including myself, feel like a failure when they don't experience these things, so they certainly don't need a man passing judgement, too.
Any Sort Of Policing Of Your Emotions
In the end, postpartum depression is a confusing, harrowing battle for any new mom. We're already questioning every feeling and thought that doesn't fit society's expectations of new mothers, so having our partner (especially a partner who can't physically understand what we're going through) try to dictate what it is we're supposed to feel doesn't help anyone.
If you're suffering from postpartum depression (hell, even if you're not), whatever you're feeling is valid and no one should be telling you who you need to be or should be experiencing. Find support, because it's out there, and know that support is what will help you get through it.