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One step at a time while dealing with post-partum depression

When I wrote the previous blog about post-partum depression, I had no idea how many women would be touched by it and would want to read more on this topic. To be honest, there is so much that I can write about anything related to "depression", but this particular type is very dear to my heart. In my 10 years of practice, I have met and helped a lot of women with post-partum depression/anxiety (PPD/PPA). But being a therapist is one thing and it is another thing being a client. I knew the symptoms, but to experience everything in my changing body, especially following a traumatic birth experience, was something else.

Now why am I stressing so much on post-partum depression? The reason being, mothers have it hard. Right from the beginning of your journey as a mother, each and every single person around you is only focused on helping you with the baby, but they can sometimes offer more stress and pressure than help. Everyone means well, but there is a barrage of unsolicited advice starting from breastfeeding, to dietary restrictions, to societal pressure and traditional yet outdated methods of child rearing which today, have been completely challenged by pediatricians worldwide, and so on & so forth. You are well-read. You as a mother, know best, however, your instincts are constantly challenged by the previous generation, because they feel they know better. This first blow to your self esteem is enough for you to start doubting everything you do. So here is step no.1

Be assertive wherever required because YOU KNOW BEST as far as YOUR BABY is concerned. Let people guide you, but choose carefully which guidance you want to follow.

Personally, no traditional/outdated advice worked for me or my baby till now. Every child is different and unique, and yes sometimes you have to endure judgments of elders, disapproval as well as labels for your child being "delicate" or "fussy". It's alright. It is not your job to please them. It is your job to be your baby's advocate and follow the latest recommendations or your pediatrician's advice. So having this assertiveness really helped me eventually. Initially, I was a mess, and was just so scared of being the wrong parent for my child. It took me some time to muster the courage to actually tell people to let PARENTING be my and my husband's job, and let LOVING be everybody else's.

DEPRESSION, HOWEVER CAN IMPACT YOUR SELF-ESTEEM, so most mothers fold when it comes to being assertive. Your partner's support and his assertiveness is the one you rely on, when this happens. For this, you and your partner need to be completely in sync with each other as far as parenting is concerned.

Let me be clear, depression did not hit me immediately after birth. Right after birth, you are caught up with so many emotions. You are either struggling with breastfeeding or the baby's health or lack of sleep, or all of this together. There is mostly anxiety rather than depression. Having a strong support system does help a lot. I was fortunate to have my in-laws whenever I had anxiety about baby's health. This is where their experience truly counted - in providing emotional support! However, most mothers do not have that support. Relying on the best support system possible is your best bet. So, here is step no. 2:

Find your tribe, online or offline

There are countless post-partum support groups on social media. Being a part of these groups was my STRONGEST support system. When my baby developed colic pain, she would cry non-stop for 4 hours from 6 pm to 10 pm, every single day. And when she would cry, she would wail as loudly as possible. It was scary for anyone to experience. Only things that would soothe her was being in constant motion while holding her. So driving her or walking while carrying her, were the only things that helped. Everyone around me started commenting "kitna roti hai", followed by unwanted, unsolicited advice and expert opinions like, "don't carry her too much or she will not gain weight!" I mean, how ridiculous right? As if gaining weight had anything to do with carrying a baby or not. When I posted these queries on the group, I could see so much love and acceptance being showered on me. My baby's crying was normalised by all the moms in the group, when they shared their experiences. This is where I learnt that HUMANS are CARRY MAMMALS and that it is our natural instinct to be carried as an infant. Warmth, love, affection, attention, and sleep is all my little one needed.

Once I came to know about this, I felt a surge of relief. Just knowing that my baby is fine and merely wants these basic needs fulfilled, gave me some confidence. Remember, how I mentioned that my baby was mirroring my emotions? Slowly, she too started mirroring confidence. So since then, the moment me or my husband would hold and carry her with confidence and surety that all is fine, she too started feeling secure and sure.

A lot of mommy bloggers say that you need to make time for yourself as well. Honestly, there is no time!!! You need to get sleep when baby is sleeping, because your body is recovering. However, once my baby turned 1.5 months old and was being fed on demand, I started watching my favorite shows (on mute!!!), and tried to spend quality time with my husband as well as friends. When depression hit, I was alone with the baby and her nanny. My husband had to relocate first and then we were supposed to move with him. However, he was such a hands on parent, that once he left, the entire burden fell upon me. I didn't know how to spend waking moments with my baby? The symptoms started with me feeling GUILTY all the time. What do you do with a small baby to entertain her? Am I doing enough? This was around the time I started co-sleeping as well, which is not recommended. That too made me feel guilty. The second symptom started soon after. Constant SELF DOUBT. I was doubting each and everything I was doing, thinking as well as feeling. I run an organization, so I still had to run it and manage cases, accounts, files, pay bills and rent, etc. I started doubting my ability to do my own work as well at that time. Then we moved to another city, and this is when I was at my lowest.The next symptom to hit me was SUICIDAL IDEATION. Playing the thought of not existing any longer and not having to deal with this, was constant. This is when I sought help, and the first person I expressed it to, was my husband. This is probably the most important step you need to take mamas! Step no.3

Seek help immediately


Remember tomorrow will not be the same as today!!!

This is my favorite mantra. Anxiety means telling yourself that this will never end. This will be the case forever or this will become worse. Take a deep breath. Tell yourself "Tomorrow is going to be different." Believe me, with babies, each day is actually different. My husband, is my MOST VALUED support system. However, many mothers do not have a supportive husband. In that case, you will need to seek help of a therapist or a psychiatrist, who can help you with your anxiety and/or depression with methods that will not harm your baby while you are breastfeeding. I too got help from my therapist and my pranic healing teacher. Yes, SPIRITUALITY and MEDITATION just accelerated my healing process. So here is step no.4:

Get in touch with who you are. Not the mother, not the professional or the wife or anything else. JUST YOU.

Getting in touch with myself, just being aware of who I am, helped me reach a calm space, faster. I kept asking myself, "What am I resisting that this is persisting?" Whatever it is that I am resisting, I welcome it in my space. I forgot what I kept telling my clients: WHAT YOU RESIST, PERSISTS. When I realised I was resisting hardships, struggle, ill-health, abnormalities in my child and my life, poor relationships with family, I visualised that I am welcoming all of these with complete acceptance, with no barriers, and with tremendous joy and gratitude. It is a way of telling life "bring it on". Slowly, all my fears subsided, and I felt ready for whatever was waiting for me out there. In reality mamas, there is nothing so horrible or scary waiting for you. These are events in life which you can endure because you have the CAPABILITY to endure it. My twin-heart meditation, my ultimate saviour in every phase of my life, came to my rescue one more time, and since then there hasn't been a day that I've missed my meditation. My life coach, reminded me to meditate, and also reminded that maybe my child was seeking healing energy from my meditation.

I am still a work in progress. I am aware that anxiety as well as depression comes in episodes. However, I am confident when the next episode arrives, I will be better prepared with this loving army of awareness, evolved consciousness, lessons and learnings, people and groups, a team of professionals, and most importantly my insightful and receptive child.

With the help of all of these resources combined, I finally started thoroughly enjoying every moment of motherhood. I let go of the maalish wali, and I started doing maalish (gentle massage) for my baby. I started bathing her. And just touching each and every part of her body with love, gratitude, and compassion, I kept thanking her for giving me this new life, the life of a mother. Today, I am able to work, as well as do household chores, as well as be with my baby with focus, is all because she made me a better person. Had she not reflected my emotions in the beginning, I would've never understood that I had anxiety and depression. Had she not needed healing energy, I would've never gone back to meditation and self-healing. She gave me the courage to confidently stand for hers as well as my right to seek healthy boundaries, help when needed, and to speak assertively for both of us. She makes me a better me, each and every day and I am just so filled with utmost gratitude, as I write this post, towards my daughter, AHILLYA!

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