Following on from my last post about my experience with PND, I thought I’d write about what worked for me in my recovery – short and long term.
- Talking. I belonged to a mother’s group – not a particularly close one but a nice one all the same – and I remember sitting at a cafe in Sandringham and talking about how I felt and the other mums saying that sometimes they felt the same way. It sounds simple, but I cannot tell you what a relief this was. We go around thinking everyone is doing okay and they probably are, but to share my thoughts and feelings and have others feel the same was important. I remember always thinking “why didn’t anyone tell me it’d be like this?” And this is a time before blogs and twitter. There were online forums but I wasn’t a massive fan. Just on this though, society still has this thing where we have babies and we’re meant to live in a fog of nappies and smiley hugs – not always the case.
- Time. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone but after about nine months of barely sleeping, I actually said to myself “righto Beavo, you’ve gotta let go, you have to get over this” and I sort of did. If I’d heard it from someone else, I would have punched them.
- Exploring my values. I’d never even thought about values. Ever. But I’d recovered enough to start really enjoying life but something was still not quite right. At a values coaching session with my friend Jen (which was rather intense), it emerged that my top value, my most important value, was freedom. When you have absolutely no support for 10 hours a day, 5 days a week it can feel like it’s never going to end. I still get quite* tense during school holidays.
- Drugs. See previous post.
- Research. Exploring the reasons for perinatal depression and anxiety. As well as the values session, this was the real eye-opener for me. I suspect first time parents aren’t really prepared to explore the possibility of experiencing depression or anxiety or understanding that your family of origin has a huge impact on how you parent and how you cope as a parent. Everything seemed very focused on the pregnancy and birth – I gave very little** thought about the emotional impact of having a baby and a lot of thought about whether I had enough wraps, grow suits and newborn nappies. I kept thinking “gee I wish I’d known all this stuff when Mitch was born” because having an understanding of WHY I felt the way I did would have alleviated somewhat the ever-present feeling of confusion and the sense that I was, well, hopeless. I know, I was completely naive.
- Time. Again. Slowly but surely the boys got older, I got wiser and I created strategies that allowed me to have my freedom, to work and to start to feel human again. Obviously life is not the same. I still have my challenges if my freedom is impinged upon. The upcoming six weeks of school holidays fills me with a little dread, yet I know other parents are thrilled because it means a break from the monotony of the school run. Sure, I love the flexibility and lack of routine but six friggen weeks of it…breathe…
There are many ways to recover from perinatal depression and/or anxiety. Counselling is definitely one of them. Money was extremely tight at the time so I wasn’t able to have ongoing counselling.
If you’re pregnant (or new to parenthood), you’re in Melbourne and would like to undertake some classes around emotional wellbeing during the transition to parenthood, check out this website – Well Mum Well Baby. The last workshop for the year is on 16 December – definitely well worth a look. I would have loved to have done something like this.
Would you care to share how you recovered from PND?