In the early days of my battle with postpartum depression, it was a lonely and scary time for me.
It felt like nobody knew what I was going through.
If you have never experienced postpartum depression (basically every male on the planet) or even depression, it’s impossible to understand the daily struggle of it.
I imagine that it’s also very frustrating.
I know how hard it was for my husband to see me suffer from something so debilitating– he even told me how lost he was on being able to help me.
Truthfully, while I was at my worst, I didn’t need someone to talk to (that was actually the last thing that I wanted)— I didn’t need a therapist for a husband. I just needed my husband. I just needed him there– period. There was no secret thing to say because this was my battle and he could gush out all those lovey-dovey words he could think of and it would still not be enough.
Man, that’s real exhausting, isn’t it?
I can’t tell you how guilty I would feel because I was putting my husband through my depression– silly, isn’t it? Isn’t that such a mom/wife thing? Even when we’re going through a terrible struggle, we’re still worried about other people.
Perhaps your partner is struggling with postpartum depression (or there’s a strong chance to believe that she is– read the difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression here) and you have no idea what to do for her. And maybe you feel like you really can’t do anything…but I promise you that you can…and even though it may feel like she doesn’t need you right now, she needs you now more than ever.
1. Let her know that she’s not alone.
You don’t have to understand what she’s going through but you do have to let her know that she isn’t alone in this; depression is a very lonely time and our mind can take us to some pretty dark and twisted places.
Let her know that you will weather this storm with her– this storm will pass.
Here are a few ways in which you can let your partner know that she’s not alone in this struggle:
*let her know that you are always available to talk.
*remind her that there are blogs, facebook groups, and an abundance of resources out there for ppd.
*remind her that no mom is ever perfect and it’s okay to not always love motherhood.
*sit up with her in the middle of the night when it’s the loneliest time for her.
*ask her, “how are you feeling today?”
*never make her feel wrong for having ppd.
*connect her with other moms that experienced ppd so she has someone to relate with.
I want to add– don’t be discouraged if she’d rather talk to other moms about her struggle than to talk about it with you. Remember: this isn’t about you…her choice to not share these emotions is her decision. Respect that and be grateful that she can share the struggle with someone else.
2. Offer her your support.
She needs you THE MOST right now so your support is very needed.
Here are a few ways in which you can offer your partner support:
*reassure her that she’s doing a fantastic job with motherhood.
*respect her boundaries of not wanting to share every emotion but always offer an open ear.
*when she does open up, let her vent about it freely.
*never judge her.
*research postpartum depression on your own time to know as much as you can about it.
*if she wants to take medication, support that.
*if she wants to go to talk therapy, support that.
*if she’s not into being intimate, support that.
*urge her to do more things for herself while you watch the kids and support that.
3. Pay attention to her cues.
Have you ever felt like your partner is going off the deep-end and you have no idea why?
Why is she always snapping at the smallest things?
Why is she so moody every-night after dinner?
Why is she never happy to see me when I come home from work?
Listen, it’s the postpartum depression that is doing all that ugliness and until you begin to pick up on her cues, it will be much harder on her (and you!). She may be moody and snapping over a dirty kitchen sink and you need to just get over that and really pay attention to what she’s trying to tell you.
You can literally begin to make this time a little more easier for her (and again, you!) by simply paying attention to her cues and needs.
Why is she always snapping at the smallest things? – She probably reached a limit for the day and ANY tiny thing- from spilled milk to a whiny child- can send her over the edge.
What you can do: tell her to go take a walk, a bath, or you take the kids out to the park or a movie. She needs time alone. Kid-free.
Why is she so moody every-night after dinner? – It’s probably because the kitchen is now loitered with dirty dishes, a dirty stove, and grumpy kids that didn’t eat the 35 minute meal she prepared.
What you can do: offer to clean up the kitchen or to give the kids a bath– if she doesn’t tell you which one to do, make the move and start helping.
Why is she never happy to see me when I come home from work? – It’s not that she’s not happy to see you, it’s just that she’s tired and overwhelmed from a long day. She needs YOU to take over now.
What you can do: instead of jumping on a video game or going to the gym, here are three things you can do to ease her mind.
1. ask her if there’s any-thing that you can do now that you are home, 2. make dinner…if you can’t cook, order take-out, 3. give her some time to herself.
Postpartum depression can be a very lonely and scary struggle– remind her that she’s not alone, offer her support, and pay attention to her cues. You can weather this storm together.