The truth is that postpartum depression doesn’t just affect you; rather, it is a true family affair. You may be the only one actually diagnosed with postpartum depression, but your entire family will be living with it.
Postpartum depression will absolutely have an impact on your partner, who not only has to co-parent with you, but also has to learn about and understand your condition so that they can be a source of support. As your partner, it’s also part of their job to help you navigate the emotional roller coaster that comes along with PPD. Your partner should also be included in your discussions about your treatment options.
You may have to discuss the financial impact of treatment or therapy. Can your family afford these options? Also, you may have to re-evaluate your childcare plans. My husband had the unfortunate position of asking me if I was emotionally stable enough to stay at home with our daughter. As difficult as it was for him to ask – and even more so for me to hear – his responsibility to our daughter made it necessary to ask, and I’m thankful that he did.
While this may seem obvious, postpartum depression will have a huge impact on your child(ren). Your newborn baby may cry more and you may sleep less as a result, which could, in turn, worsen your depression.
You may also feel detachment or resentment (I absolutely did) because of what you’re going through. If you are nursing, PPD may also affect your milk supply, and for many mothers the inability to breastfeed can lead to feelings of guilt which are a primary symptom of PPD.
What is most important for you and your family to understand is that postpartum depression is a journey, filled with easily manageable good days and some that aren’t so easily managed. As with most mothers who suffer from PPD, having a supportive family and close-knit friends were a leading contributing factor to recovery.
I found that having open and honest dialogue with my husband helped me to remain aware of my symptoms. Parenting is difficult for so many reasons and the day to day routines can sometimes cloud our awareness. Every couple of weeks, my husband and I check in with each other and he asks me blatantly, “Are you okay?” It’s that moment that I’m taken back to my- sometimes harsh- reality and I have to ask myself, “Wait… am I okay?”
As mothers, we tend to put ourselves last. We think about our family’s needs before we even consider our own. However, with postpartum depression, in order to take care of our family we must take care of ourselves first. So, remember that when mama is happy and healthy the rest of the crew will be too.
Tell me, how did your partner or family handle your depression? Was there an actual conversation about it? What role did your family play in your treatment?