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It has been almost four years since I was diagnosed with severe post natal depression and anxiety. I almost lost my husband and son resulting in almost taking my life. I didn’t want to accept that I was extremely unwell and that the transparent disease debilitated me as a mother, wife and as a woman.
Once I sought help with my health professionals, received proper care from the psychiatric unit, treated the right medication the journey to recovery began. Although I did not feel that power, or understand it to begin with – day by day, step by step, I slowly allowed that power to be invited in.
I don’t know where you are at in your postpartum journey, but I am writing this in hope that you will see that you are not alone in this beautiful mess called motherhood, and that you can heal from this experience too. Here are four ways I reclaimed my power after post natal depression.
1 – Take Time To Heal
Post natal depression is such a traumatic experience, so be kind to yourself. Recovering from post natal depression is not an easy and quick recovery. Almost four years on, I am sometimes haunted with what happened and how much I let everything turn into a mess. I caused a lot of damage to my marriage but most of all I almost destroyed myself. I sabotaged myself with the cruelest words.
My self esteem was so low I let rejection become the crux of my beliefs. Allowing rejection to enter cut into to me so deep, where all forms of depression and anxiety planted in every corner of my body. These cuts are so different to a cut from falling down. These cuts are transparent. Yes they hurt like a physical cut, but they take longer to heal – sometimes, months, and in my case years.
So sweet mama, take time to heal. If you need to cry, cry it out. If you need to speak to someone, whether it is a friend, family member, partner, doctor or spiritual leader, speak up. If you need that medication, take it. These will help the process in healing.
Remember, time is your friend, we are so lucky to have time on our side as there is no rush to heal. It will be challenging, it will be heartbreaking, above all, it will be worth it.
2 – Do Not Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Asking for help is the hardest for any mother suffering from post natal depression. During the dark times, we build a resilience that we do not need help from anyone because post natal depression instils into us that no one can help us. I was so ashamed and embarrassed that I could not cope with motherhood. I pushed my family and husband away thinking I can do it all, but I couldn’t.
Once I started my road to recovery it became clearer with how much help I actually needed. I work full time. I have a big home. I have a little boy and husband that needs me too. I finally broke out of my stubbornness and started asking for help. Even if it meant getting my son baby sat for a few hours. Even if it meant hiring a cleaner to clean my home. Even just asking my husband for help.
Once I started asking for help, a layer of my post natal depression disintegrated. Asking for help does not mean I am a weak mother. It makes me a stronger mother, because I can now finally see my struggles, and that I can not simply do everything by myself. After all, we are all just human and there is only so much each of us can handle until we ask for help.
3 – Reconnect With Yourself Again
Post natal depression is one of the most isolating times ever. The early days of motherhood can be very lonesome. The monotonous chores of feeding, changing the baby. The continuous humming of the washing machine and dishwasher. The daily grind of motherhood and mental illness was not just loneliness in the home.
I remember I would be in a room full of people, laughing, engaging yet being miles away from everyone, and no one would know. This sense of loneliness extended to my husband as he did not understand what I was going through and as a result, I disconnected from him.
This loneliness was the bane of my existence and I made a conscious break to get out of that mindset. To disconnect loneliness from within was to reconnect with myself.
I had to accept I was not going to be the same person I was when I fell pregnant. Nor was I going to be the same person when I left hospital with my newborn son. Motherhood has added a new dimension to my identity but I have had to learn that motherhood is not my entire identity.
How I love to reconnect with myself can be as simple as going for a walk, reading, and meditating – these were some of my favourite things to do before I became a mother and I still love doing these things. Even just to go to the coffee shop and read a book on my own – I am reconnecting with myself.
Just doing these little things make me feel like “me” again and it is a reminder that my old self has not completely left since becoming a mother.
4 – Surrender
To surrender is the essence of reclaiming your power. However being able to tell yourself that you have a problem is the hardest thing to do. Bottling up weeks, months, even years of pain, anger, shame and frustration will only not only destroy you, but those around you.
Yet being able to look at yourself in the mirror, and look into your eyes, your heart, your soul and admit that this disease is there it will not only unlock the emotions of pain, anger, shame and frustration – it will truly begin your journey of the road to recovery.
It took me months to finally surrender. I was in denial when I had counselling sessions with my psychiatrist and psychologist. I was in denial when I was taking my medication. I was in the most denial when I was admitted into a psychiatric ward when I attempted to take my life. I was in denial for such a long time that it clouded my decisions.
Denial did not enable me to live my life to the fullest.
So to surrender and accept that I had severe postnatal depression and anxiety has lifted so many burdens and has empowered me to become the better person that I deserve to be.