As a mother in a postpartum depression you have enough just thinking about yourself. The last thing you might think about is how your depression is affecting your partner. Not only does it affects them but they also play a crucial part in the healing process. Postpartum depression and our partners is an often overlooked topic. They feel it too, so in order to move your own healing forward you need to stop blocking them out and include them into your journey.
Include not Exclude
When you feel down, most people crawl back into their own shell. It is hard to communicate about what you feel when you don’t even know how you feel. It’s so easy to slip into your own little world and block everybody else out. Especially your loved ones who know you the best are sometimes the hardest to share your true feelings with.
During a depression you experience feeling of being lonely. The last thing you want to do is to add to that feeling. It can feel against your natural reaction but excluding people who want to help you is not going to help your healing. Your loved ones have your best interests even when you feel at your worst. They can’t look inside your head so you need to lead them in.
How do you communicate with your loved ones in a compassionate, non-judgment kind of way? It’s easy to lash out to your loved ones when they don’t understand you but you have to realise that they can’t read your mind! As much as you wish for them to understand what you’re going through, they don’t really know if you don’t tell them.
For months I was getting frustrated that my husband didn’t help me more, didn’t understand me and didn’t ask me more often how I was feeling. Did I ever mentioned this to him? No… So how could I expect from him to know when I never mentioned it? He can’t read my mind and your partner also doesn’t read your mind! Let me get clear, he did help a lot but for me it wasn’t enough, I needed mental support. I was getting frustrated that I wasn’t getting what I wanted but I didn’t know what I needed.
They only way you know what’s going on in your head is to talk about it. Maybe you don’t know the words, but just try to start with: “I don’t feel happy” or “I don’t feel well” or “I feel alone”. You need to open the dialogue or answer honestly when someone asks you how you’re doing. There is no reason not to share it. You might feel ashamed or insecure but I promise you that once you open up, people are there to support you.
It takes constant work to keep communication open and honest. I mentioned before to be prepared for the fourth trimester is important for yourself but also your partner. To keep your body healthy you need exercise, but to keep your mind and soul happy you also need practice. In a depression your natural reaction might be to shut down, but with the help of your partner you can find your path to healing. Setting out the time to practice together, whether that is physical exercise or meditate together, will help to soften your hard edges and open the conversation.
An important part of communication is listening, for you and your partner! We often lash out at our partners during moments we don’t have to time to talk it out. Making time to sit down, turning off all phones and all other distractions and only have eye for each other is so nourishing for your relationship. Not just after adding a new baby to your family but it’s valuable for every relationship. It maybe doesn’t sound very romantic to schedule time to sit down, at least once a week, but I promise you, it’s a worthwhile investment!
- Sit in front of each other, making eye contact
- Stay silent for 5 minutes to get comfortable in each others presence
- Try to stay away from judgments when sharing or responding
- Share your feelings about the postpartum period with your partner – for the partners, don’t respond yet, just listen and wait until she’s finished
- When she’s finished sharing, the partner can respond
- Let your partner share how they experienced the postpartum period – for the mothers, don’t respond yet, just listen and wait until they’re finished
- When they’re finished sharing, you can respond
Remember this exercise is for opening up the conversation. Even if you can’t find the right words, just try to share and describe the feeling that you’re experiencing right now.
This was the last blog in the serie of Postpartum Depressions. Just in case you missed them here you can read the previous ones;
- Yoga to overcome Postpartum Depression
- Recognize Postpartum Depression
- Fourth Trimester and Postpartum Depression
- Holistic Healing of Postpartum Depression
Have you had a postpartum depression or know someone who does? An open dialogue about it is so important! Reach out to people who love you, or reach out to that mother who’s having a hard time.
Disclaimer; I’m not a medical professional and I can only speak from my own experience. Always consult with your doctor whether you can start with a physical practice! Do you think you have a postpartum depression? Reach out for help and support! Whether that is professional help or in the form of friends and family, you don’t have to go through this by yourself!