During the week I went on the radio to talk about my experience with post-natal depression, and how social media possibly contributes to this problem. It was a good experience, and I wanted to follow it up with some more thoughts to re-iterate what I’d said there, and also add some additional information.
For those that don’t know, I suffered post-natal depression after the birth of my first son. His birth was hard, and he suffered a dairy intolerance as a baby. I was helpless, and hurting that my baby was hurting. I yelled and cried, and when I told the health nurse, or the GP at mine or his checkups I was repeatedly told that he was fine – he didn’t have the right symptoms for ANY sort of problem, and it was just colic. Oh, and that I was probably exaggerating things.
// Having people not believe you because you are a first time mum is very hurtful, and certainly contributes to higher PND in first time mums //
// Find a good GP! If your GP doesn’t take your concerns seriously, or doesn’t believe you, just find a new one. Seriously. There are actually heaps of GREAT GPs out there, you just have to find them (and probably wait for an appointment!) //
After a few months of this, my thyroid totally spun out, although I didn’t know that was the problem at the time. By this stage I had discovered Lior’s dairy intolerance, and we had things mostly under control, but the damage was done. I suffered in silence for many many months after that, and at 13 months postpartum I went to a new doctor and was diagnosed with post-natal depression. Even that part of the story did go smoothly, and I was screwed over by the mental health services at the local hospital. I gave up, and Luke, Lior & I put everything we owned into storage and hung out in Israel for a while, where I found myself not only cured, healthy, happy and at peace, but also after not too long a time, pregnant again. Ha!
// Definitely not saying everyone should just pack up and move to Israel, but also… it’s a miraculous land… //
// Holidays are great – don’t underestimate the power of changing your routine and lifestyle for a period of time //
I re-wrote the above story of my first year of motherhood, it made it sound horrific, and terrible every day, but in reality it wasn’t. I had lots of really great days, and in general I soldiered on, making the most of my life, and appreciating what a gift it was to be a mother, and to have my darling little boy. He was adorable, and lovely, and I loved spending time with him. And I think lots of people would attest to this being their reality when they experience post-natal depression. Little things being fine, and yes to fun things, yes to laughing, yes to generally “coping”, but having a bit of a cloud hanging over you. To have the running theme of your life somehow being hardship and sadness, even though rationally you know that this is not so much the case.
// PND is different for everyone – having someone to regularly talk to is a great way to keep things in check and notice when that cloud just won’t go away. I’m sorry to tell you that this person is almost definitely not your husband, or your mum. //
As I said on the radio, if you’re a mum (new or “old”!), then finding the right tribe on social media is so important, and during my second pregnancy I found that. Finding people who’s parenting style you resonate with, and who are honest about the ups and downs of motherhood. No one wants to watch people sad and moping online, but also it’s not helpful only seeing the highlight reel.
// You might find that by being honest you actually help other people. If you’re someone who is open about their own realities, then you might make people feel safe enough to ask you for help should they need it. //
My personal manifesto for using social media is to keep things real, and being mostly positive. Sometimes, times are tough, and life is just not positive. It’s about a year ago that I got some hard core burnout from over-commiting myself, and that was actually pretty hard to share online, but I’m glad I did. I hope it helps someone else not over-commit themselves. Sharing the tired days when my baby didn’t sleep, and I am desperate for coffee – this is real life, and I share this too. Sharing the joy my kids bring me, and things they do that make me proud – this is also super important, and part of what makes a strong online community. We’re about to embark on a three week trip with 3 small children and a 20 hour transit, so if you’re keen to see the fun and also the hard of travelling with kids, definitely head over to my instagram. 🙂
// Be honest! Be vulnerable! But this is partly why having that right tribe is important. If you’re surrounded by people who like to give tons of advice when you didn’t ask for it, or judge you for give them the ol’ heave ho, and block them. Aint nobody got time for that. //
// On one of our trips both our kids weed and pood in their clothes whilst sleeping on a 12 hour flight. That was incredibly fun. Not. Hopefully nothing like that will happen on this flight!! //
I just wanted to lastly add that if you’re a husband, keep an eye on your wife. Don’t let things get so bad. If you’re a wife, even if you may have PND yourself, don’t forget your husband! I think men actually get PND in a different way, but quite frequently, it’s just not diagnosed (and they can get through it a bit easier, because they don’t have the hormonal interference. But still, a psychologist can really help. If you’re in Australia, just go talk to your GP about it, and you can most likely get a bunch of free session to see if it’s going to help you!
// Post-natal depression is not a women only issue. Men can also suffer post-natal depression. //
// Post-natal depression not only affects you, but also your spouse, baby, and other children. Seeking help is the best thin you can do, if not for yourself, then for the people you live with who are affected. //