Navigation and Balance…ah. Those two things can be difficult in any situation. Being a mom AND experiencing pregnancy related depression and/or anxiety, AND returning to work outside of the home can overwhelm the most balanced of women.
Women reading this may already be diagnosed and seeking treatment or some may be reading this and wondering if what they are feeling/experiencing is “normal”? At the risk of giving women who may be struggling and headed into another life transition a “to-do” list, I offer the following in the spirit of support for the journey.
Phone a Friend
Who can you call/text anytime day or night to just share how you are doing at any given moment? Ask a friend/family member if they are willing to be your lifeline as you head into another transition. Have them on speed dial (I know, a thing of the past) and reach out just to say “Whoa, I am having a rough day”, “I really need to talk, when do you have time?” or “Hi, just wanted to reach out”.
Be Gentle with Yourself
Women can be our own harshest critics. New moms often feel the societal pressure to look and feel joyous and full of love. While it helps when our family and tribe are gentle and supportive, it can be most important that we give that gift to ourselves. This can be an affirmation on a sticky note or a jar full of affirmations you pull from when you need those messages.
Start with One
Confide in others you trust (both inside of work and in your personal life) about what you are going through. Many women who have experienced pregnancy related depression and/or anxiety identify this as both the hardest and the most important thing to do. This confidant may be a therapist, your baby’s pediatrician, your friend, your partner, a trusted friend. Start with one.
When dealing with Pregnancy Related Depression, speaking up can lead to connecting. This connection may be made through an online platform, a Facebook page or a local support group. Knowing you are not alone when you may feel the most alone you have ever felt is essential. Humans are driven to connect, yet when we need it most, we tend to stay in isolation. Remember the “Phone a Friend”? Maybe they would go to a support group with you.
Lastly, a note to the loved ones and co-workers of someone dealing with pregnancy related depression and/or anxiety . . .
Dear Family and Friends:
New moms are overwhelmed and often feel like they need to do it ALL and with a smile on their face. Please ask the new mom in your life how she is doing today and then simply listen. Bring her a cup of tea or coffee. Leave positive notes of encouragement just because. Acknowledge that what she is experiencing is difficult, exhausting…whatever it is for her and then remind her that you are there for her.
Please, resist the urge to “fix” her or the situation. She is not broken but struggling and feeling/being supported is what we all need to feel empowered during the tough times and support is the #1 thing she needs right now.
There is no magic in the ideas on this page but where the real magic lies can be in the spark that moves someone to reach out for support and someone else to reach back, be present and listen.
If you are a mom or know of a mom who struggles with pregnancy-related depression and anxiety, encourage her to get help by going to www.postpartum.net/colorado, www.postpartum.net/ayuda (en español), or have her call 1-800-944-4773 for confidential and free support.