What You Can Learn from my Journey with Postpartum Depression
My name is Giselle and I left the corporate world to become a full time Mom of a beautiful boy, and Editor of katherinerosman.com. This is a small site that we are growing quickly with the aim of becoming a central resource for Mom's that will provide actionable advice and info guides. I have found so much support through online Mom communities and I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the information that is out there, and hopefully help others in their own journey along the way.
Looking back at my journey into motherhood, I am amazed at just how unprepared I was for the mental battle that was to go with it. The accompanying life changes were so immense that I barely had time to notice that I was slipping into a state of postpartum depression.
Over the 12 months since my baby was born I left my career, moved to a new country, experienced blocks of time where I was completely alone, and was beginning to wonder if anyone would notice if I disappeared.
Some of this was through necessity, and some just letting the daily demands of motherhood take over my life. My lack of awareness and action to address these problems led me down a dark path that went further than it needed to.
I wanted to share some of the pivotal areas of life that will influence your state of well being, where I went wrong, and what you can do differently.
Self Esteem and Status
What I did
I returned to work as soon as I was able to, and managed to get into a workable routine. Aside from some minor sleep deprivation, and the inconvenience of pumping breast milk all day I was enjoying the balance in my life.
Then I was faced with a choice. Go it alone as a single Mom, or move to another country to make sure my son had his father in his life. I did not hesitate and packed it all in to move to another country. Giving up my career in the process.
While I know that I can pick this up again in the future, it was a shock how much of my identity was tied to my job. I was managing a department of 70 people and I strived to be someone that people could trust and look up to. All of a sudden I had one person looking up to me . . . and he was less than two feet tall!
What you can do
This should be a bit of a no brainer, but try and avoid any other major life changes! You are already in the middle of the biggest life change you may ever go through. Stress and anxiety will be present in your life. This is not the time for unnecessary complications.
What I did
Moving to a new country would be an exciting prospect under normal circumstances. But my partner was not able to move with me and would follow a few months later. So I was alone and starting from absolute zero. No friends, no job, and an unreliable internet connection . . . I didn’t even have a driver’s license. This led to a period of what felt like complete isolation from the outside world.
I tried mother’s groups, but let’s just say that the recurring topic of unhelpful partners just wasn’t the kind of support I wanted to be around.
What you can do
Your network is what will relieve the pressure. Friends, family, mothers groups (that you actually get along with) all play an important roll in giving you an opportunity to interact with people that can actually talk back.
When you leave work it is the lack of daily social contact that can be the greatest shock. You need to make an effort to retain that contact outside just your partner.
A catch up with your best friend can be rejuvenating. Some quiet time while the grandparents take over can release the pressure valve and allow you to look inwards instead of constantly outwards.
If you are lucky enough to have these things in your life, take advantage. It can make all the difference.
What I did
I expected that motherhood alone would give me all the fulfillment I needed in life. While I would not trade being a Mom for anything, it does not create a well rounded life in isolation. It took me a long time to figure this out.
Online communities of Moms had been a lifeline for me through this dark period, and it was through this I found an opportunity to work part time on a parenting website. This was so different from anything I had done before. A new challenge, and a chance to give something back and help other new parents. While getting to know an amazing network of like-minded people doing great work in the industry.
What you can do
Diversify your headspace! Take up a new project, start a class in something. Yoga, pottery, writing . . . anything!
Seeking Treatment for Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression can be a very serious condition. Spotting the symptoms can be difficult at first because you will probably suffer from tiredness, insomnia, mood swings and a lack of energy anyway when you have a new baby. If this feels persistent over a long period of time then seeking medical advice can ensure the response is measured and appropriate for your situation.
Any prolonged feelings of guilt, low self esteem and general a lack of interest in your baby are symptoms that should be acted on immediately. Your doctor will be able to advise whether medication or therapy are necessary treatments.
Remember that PPD is a very common condition, and the best thing you can do is start the conversation early.