Written by Jana Angeles
Having Postnatal depression (PND) is a hard battle to overcome. It will bring you challenges in life you never anticipated. It will change the relationships you have with your current support network and you will have to take on certain lifestyle changes with it. The recovery process from PND is not simple and no journey is the same.
Each individual will have different coping strategies. The first thing to do when you recognise symptoms of PND is to get help as soon as you can and to also find support from your family and closest friends. Don’t rush the recovery process from PND. Appreciate the baby steps you take in healing and let yourself grow and learn from your mistakes. You are human after all.
So, what’s the best advice you can give to yourself during the recovery process?
Accept that you’re not a burden
It’s easy to feel ashamed when you’ve always been someone who never relied on other people. Just remember that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. Anyone that has struggled with depression knows that they feel out of place and can oftentimes feel self-conscious about expressing their feelings and thoughts.
Communicating with your family and close friends can help you with your recovery from PND. When we’re clouded with dark thoughts and feelings, it can be draining. So, don’t feel ashamed if you need to vent and talk to people about your problems. It’s okay to vocally express them to the people you trust.
You are a different person
There will be days where you’ll feel like your old self again, but let’s be real, PND changes your perception of things. You’ll find appreciation in the steps you take to recovery, but you’ll also feel a sense of sadness for lost time. After giving birth, you may have spent a long time grieving and you may not remember the first few months you had with your child.
It’s tough to accept this, but it get’s easier when you realise you can make up for it in the present. Remember, you’ve done your best to get to this point and that having PND doesn’t dictate your life. Recognise that you’re doing everything in your own capacity to do what’s best for you and your mental health.
Have a plan for bad days
Just because you’re recovering doesn’t mean those awful days where depression hits you are totally gone. Unfortunately, they will come back and affect you at some point. There will be triggers for some people and moments where you’ll feel like everything is going backwards.
Have a plan for those bad days and let your friends and family prepare for incoming calls from you. Accept the fact that each day is different and it will bring on obstacles you may not expect. If you’re not willing to talk to any loved ones, just remember you can contact either PANDA (1300 726 306) or Lifeline (13 11 14) for extra support.
Your life will move forwards
Twelve months ago you probably didn’t want to get out of bed or take a shower. Now, you just want to take the dog for a walk and have brunch with a few friends. Just remember that life does go on and each step you take is a step forwards.
You’ve come so far and you deserve a pat on the back for reaching this stage in your recovery. Tasks you thought were a drag now come naturally. It’s easy to forget the small stuff but when it comes to PND, any progress is better than none. You deserve to move forward in life. You deserve to be happy. Never forget that.
If you feel depressed, anxious or showing any signs of PND, please call the PANDA hotline on 1300 726 306 (10am-5pm AEST Monday – Friday) for further support and help. For after-hours assistance, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.