Postpartum depression, for so many mothers, feels like you're drowning. For those around you that can't or don't understand exactly how you're feeling, it can be difficult for them to offer you exactly what you need to stay afloat. Trust me, I know. I suffered from a nearly devastating bout of postpartum depression, and had it not been for my partner, I might not have come out on the other side as successfully as I did. Every grown-ass man can help with postpartum depression, and I'm thankful that mine did, even if he didn't know exactly how to at the time.
Of course, this isn't to say that all parents are in heteronormative relationships, or that men are the only partners who can help a woman suffering from postpartum depression. Clearly, that's not true. However, when a cisgender male can't physically know what it's like to have postpartum depression, his support is meaningful and worthwhile and in so many cases, vital. When I started showing the signs of postpartum depression, I initially kept them to myself. I was afraid of what others would think if they saw me feeling anything less than elated, so for a long time I kept my struggle a secret. I'm hardly alone in my fear of telling others how I felt though. A lot of women hide their postpartum depression because of the stigma that society places on mental illness, and because they're convinced so many people around them just won't understand.
Despite this stigma, we shouldn't have to suffer alone. Thankfully, in my own case, my partner realized that I didn't seem like my usual self, and stepped in. With his support, I finally sought help for my postpartum depression. We got through it together, and I'm certain that if I didn't have him to lean on during some of those dark moments, I might still be suffering in silence. So, if you too think you might be suffering from postpartum depression, and you need help from your partner but aren't quite sure how to ask for it, show them the following nine things.
They Won't Ask "What's Wrong With You?"
There's nothing wrong with you if you're suffering from postpartum depression. That's a completely ludacris sentiment. Postpartum depression isn't just something you can will yourself out of. It's not something that you can control, and it most definitely isn't your fault, and your partner should never make you feel like it is.
They'll Put In Extra Work At Home
If you're suffering from postpartum depression, you need to take care of yourself. I realize that taking care of yourself sort of contradicts that 24/7 care that you're told you should offer to your baby, but you need time to tend to yourself and your mental health. Your partner can take over more than half of the responsibilities, and allow you some time to rest and seek treatment. He shouldn't make a big deal out of having to do so, either. It took two people to make your baby, and it also takes two people to care for him or her.
They Won't Make Her Feel Guilty
New motherhood is painted as this blissful time, but for some women, it doesn't feel that way. If you're not feeling quite as blissful as other people, including your partner, think you should, having them burden you with unnecessary guilt will only add to your pain. A grown-ass man won't make you feel like you're anything less than an amazing mom, even when you don't actually feel that way.
They'll Give Her Space
Sometimes, you just need to be alone. You just need the room to breathe, and to be in a safe place on your own where you can allow yourself the time you need to just feel. A grown-ass man won't resent your for needing space. He'll be too busy taking care of the baby and helping to support you, to feel neglected or resentful.
They Won't Criticize Her
Postpartum depression (PPD) isn't something you can control. It will make you feel like you don't have any say in how you think or feel and, at times, it can make you seem nearly unrecognizable in another person's eyes. That's unfortunately one of the most painful aspects of PPD. Feeling like you aren't yourself, and having another person blatantly critique you because of it is unfair. No wonder women are so afraid to talk about postpartum depression; people are anxiously awaiting their admission so that they can tell them everything that's wrong with them for not feeling how others think they should.
They Won't Tell Her She's "Hormonal"
Just, like, no. People are allowed to have feelings and experience emotions that aren't a direct result of having a set of ovaries. Telling someone that how they feel, especially when they're suffering from PPD, that they're just "hormonal" is deducting from a diagnosis that is actually quite serious. Boys blame feelings on hormones, men know better.
They Don't Tell You That You Should Be Happy Because You Just Had A Baby
PPD can be confusing for the person who has it, but it can be equally confusing for their partners, too. If you've got PPD, and your partner thinks that it somehow equates to you not being happy about your baby or the decision to become a mother, just try to make them aware that there's a very distinct difference between their assumptions and your diagnoses. Of course you're happy about your new baby, but loving that baby and bonding with him or her probably feels impossible when you can't comprehend what's happening to you. You can still love your baby with postpartum depression.
They Research PPD To Get A Better Understanding Of What She's Going Through
If your partner doesn't understand what you're going through (and odds are, he doesn't), they're likely confused by your behavior. If they're committed to helping you though, they'll do take it upon themselves to do some research about PPD. Pretty much everyone has access to the internet, so there's really no excuse for them to not get educated what you're experiencing. Learning about PPD from people other than you, could help them to get a better grasp on how very debilitating it can feel for you and, hopefully, help them learn how to support you more effectively.
Sometimes, you just need to vent. You need to put your feelings on the table without the fear of being judged or ridiculed in order to be able to breathe a sigh of relief. Just because your partner might not be able to feel what you're feeling, that doesn't mean that he can't listen. Just listening to you openly speak about what you're going through is probably the best thing your partner can do, and if he's a grown-ass man, he's ready for you to talk when you are.