With the holiday season approaching, it can be a joyous time– cozy fireplaces, yummy food, festive activities, and being with the ones you love. It’s also a time where families come together to share in the holiday spirit. Extended families near and far, travel to spend these precious days catching up; which can be extremely overwhelming for someone diagnosed with postpartum depression (the questions, the looks, the assumptions).
For the women that may be reading this that do have a stable and supportive family- that is fantastic and you are pretty dang lucky. However, I’m aware that not everyone can be so lucky as to have an understanding and supportive family when it comes to serious issues.
Case in point: Postpartum Depression.
Postpartum depression is now just getting recognized as a serious condition (finally!) and that’s because of our amazing generation of strong mamas that have been courageous enough to open up and talk about it.
Unfortunately, postpartum depression can still be viewed as a non-existent or easily brushed-off condition…which is why some mamas may have a hard time talking about it.
I’m here today to help you gain the confidence to face your family this holiday season if you have postpartum depression.
I don’t want to point fingers or anything, and I know it’s not their fault, but our mothers and grandmothers generations kind of screwed us over on this one.
Back in “the day” (yeah, I went there) women kept all their shit held deep inside. Motherhood was nothing short of amazing. Smiles, as well as spotless homes and home-made meals from scratch, were expected.
We know that there is a HUGE difference between the baby blues and postpartum depression since the mothers before us came home from the hospital with their newborn babies.
Are you afraid to face your family this holiday season or you’re unsure how to talk to them about your postpartum depression? I have some tips that may help you.
Don’t feel like you have to explain yourself, or your condition
You should never have to feel like you have to explain why you’re feeling the way you feel. You don’t owe anyone an explanation as to why you’re depressed.
Also, don’t need to explain your condition– if someone doesn’t understand postpartum depression, then that is on them to research the condition. Not you. Please don’t feel like you owe anyone an explanation for your mental health.
Be prepared to answer the questions
Some people are genuinely concerned with how you are doing, so be prepared for rapid-fire questions, such as:
“how are you doing?”
“are you feeling okay?”
“how have you been?”
“do you need to talk?”
“do you need any help?”
I assure you that these questions are not meant to hurt you, but to help you.
Remember that most people really just want to help (and accept that help)
It took me a long time to realize that it’s okay to ask for help. Asking for help is actually a sign of being a pretty kickass mama…and not to just ask for that help, but to ACCEPT it. If you aren’t feeling okay, then accept that and talk about it. You will have bad days during your journey, and that is okay.
When it becomes too much, change the subject
When you become tired of the endless questions and worrisome stares, changing the subject can be a great way to steer the conversation to a lighter spot. Some conversation ideas can range from the weather, the food (because it’s the holidays and we are ALL eating), to which types of movies are playing in the theater.
Bring along a moral support buddy
If the thought of visiting family really skeeves you out and you’re unsure how to do it by yourself, bring along a moral support buddy. Tell your buddy to stick close by your side and even make up a code word that you can say to him/her when things get too much.
It’s not you, it’s them
If anybody seems standoffish since they found out you’ve been diagnosed with postpartum depression, remember: it’s not you, it’s them.
They don’t understand what you’re going through and chances are, they don’t even know what to say to you. I think it’s still important to engage with these people, however, if your effort is more than they are willing to give back, it’s okay to take a step away from this relationship. Perhaps they will understand your struggle someday, or perhaps they won’t, either way, it’s not you, it’s them.
Try to stay out of uncomfortable situations
If you know that going over to Aunt Gerty’s house will be emotionally and mentally exhausting, perhaps it’s best to sit this one out. You don’t need to worry about whose feelings you may be hurting if you don’t go to the big dinner– because your mental health is the most important.
Place yourself in comfortable situations
When we are in our own environment, we can feel less threatened by our worries and fears. Perhaps having the holiday get-together at your home (where you feel most comfortable) is an idea.
If the thought of having a house full of people overwhelms you to the point of hiding under the covers, you don’t have to plan it alone! Call up a trusted family member or pal to help you coordinate the party or dinner.
How does the holiday season affect your postpartum depression? What would you like me to talk about in my next Holiday survival post? I would love to hear about it in a comment or through e-mail. I’m always here to listen, and I know how important that is this time of the year.
I hope you have a fantastic holiday this year and remember~ keep smiling.