I don’t receive calls; the phone is always on silent. I don’t feel like talking to anyone. I make up excuses not to attend parties; avoiding everyone becomes so much easier when locked up in a room. I smile as I kiss him, hoping desperately that he doesn’t see the emptiness in my eyes. His loving arms encircle me and I am consumed by shame and guilt.
I look at the child and I feel sad that I might be holding back on so much that a mother could give. The little face lights up on seeing me, as if I'm the best thing ever. I feel undeserving, of all that love. And I drown in a dark bottomless well. I don’t even know what it is that I am feeling.
I’m losing hope and a feeling of helplessness is taking over, of which I don’t know the how and why. As I say goodnight, I am secretly thankful that I don’t have to face the day anymore. I silently cry into the night, wondering if everything would ever be alright.
The absolute sense of joy and wonder at the birth of a child often turns into days becoming one big haze. The sleeplessness, exhaustion and making room for the child physically and emotionally in their lives could overwhelm new mothers. Add to the mix a rage of hormones and newly acquired emotions, the mum is off the game she so carefully planned all these months. The change makes her wonder if something is wrong with her.
A sense of instability, insecurity and what seems like a loss of her standing in life could make a new mum anxious. Being glued to a small and extremely demanding human, who sucks her energy and time, might make her feel otherwise useless. This is especially true for people who have been career oriented and outgoing, but now tied to a child almost 24/7.
At times, these feelings go away after a few days. They are called baby blues. Some times they don’t go away and that is getting diagnosed for postnatal depression (PND) would be a good idea.
Even though women are informed about PND and it's symptoms, they might fail to reach out to someone when they start feeling low after childbirth. Either attributing the feelings to their exhaustion or embarrassed to express things out loud. Sometimes they don’t know what they are feeling, just that something is wrong. Some just live in denial.
It is very important for the family and friends surrounding the new mother to be informed about PND so that they can help. It becomes imperative to engage the new mother in conversations and assurances leading her to open up about her feelings. They can also assist her in talking to the family doctor or the gynaecologist who might refer her to a psychologist.
Most important would be the role of the partner. They need to understand that she needs their patience, love and support.
Even when clinically undiagnosed, new mothers often need to be reassured, for the arrival of a baby can cause imbalance in her world.
Post natal depression, if left undiagnosed and untreated can put strain on the woman's relationships, together with sabotaging her self esteem and confidence.
Note: If you are a new mother or a mother to be, here are some links that you can go through to get to know more and reach out to talk to someone.
Excellent article. I think it is so important that those around someone suffering depression or post natal depression support that person. She may just be feeling so overwhelmed by her feelings (or lack of feelings) that she can't pick up the phone and make that vital doctor's appointment herself.