It seems that for centuries it was taboo to talk about. Countless women suffered in silence and many questioned their sanity. Sometimes the children of these women also suffered as a result of a need to keep a very big secret, so as to avoid negative attention and questioning from others.
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Awareness of postpartum depression seems to have increased over the years, as the media has been willing to expose what it is and what one can do to address it. Women in the public eye have courageously shed more light on this topic by speaking about their own experiences, which has helped others to get the help they need.
In working with postpartum depression, I have had the opportunity to see people learn about and work through this very real and very difficult issue. Postpartum depression has many negative associations — and rightfully so. The symptoms and impact they have on the lives it touches are significant and unpleasant to say the least.
However, I have also had the opportunity to see that sometimes having postpartum depression is not all bad. This may sound ridiculous, and it is understandable that most would raise an eyebrow at this statement. After all, postpartum depression makes the person experiencing it feel like she has lost herself, confused, helpless, and downright miserable. But from negative experiences, we can often draw positive lessons that will impact our lives for the better. Below are some of the most common lessons I have had the honor of being present for.
1. I am doing too much.
This is extremely common. A woman comes into my office and says that she can’t do the things she used to do. And then she gives me the seemingly never-ending list of activities she was involved in prior to the birth of her baby and the onset of her depression. She wants to get back to the things she was involved in previously, which is understandable.
However, sometimes depression is our body’s way of telling us to slow down. This is particularly true when we don’t listen to our bodies regularly and take the cues it is giving us to say "no" to requests of others and take time for ourselves. Realizing that the depression is a big message your body is trying to send and listening to that message can be a huge step forward in beginning to resolve the depression symptoms.
2. I need to take better care of myself.
This is true of many people. Most of us can learn to take better care of ourselves. But the fact is, as nice as it is to talk about, we, as a society, tend to continue to run ourselves ragged instead of following through with our own good judgment. Sometimes it takes something as big as depression to clue us into another big message from our body — a healthy mind follows a healthy body.
A person who is being mindful of their self-care, and following through with it, is far less likely to experience continued depression. This is especially true for postpartum depression. The body is trying to heal from childbirth and will need extra care. The tricky part is that time is now more limited with a new baby in the house. Self-care must be made a priority and supported by those in the support network so the mother can be successful in caring for herself and her child.
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