The past four years I have been struggling with peri-natal depression (PND). It has been an extremely emotional experience, to the point I practically lost a substance of self and reality. The notion of the failed mother, a mind of perplex, my PND resulted in me ending up in hospital twice last year and almost losing my husband and son. After my last hospital visit, which was 12 months ago, I embarked on a healing journey, to better myself to be a happier mother, wife and person. Slowly and surely the melancholy of my PND is becoming a thing of the past, however from time to time I slip up and sparks of my mental illness are alight.
During this perilous but fortuitous journey, there have been moments of inspiration that have helped free me from the ever looming clutches of despair. Here are some ways that has helped alleviate my PND so far:
1. Eliminating/Reducing toxic friends and family.
From the moment I fell pregnant, there was always someone with an opinion. Whether it be criticizing how I handled my pregnancy, or the way I have brought up my son. I came to a point where I just had enough and have been strong enough since to stop contacting certain family members, as well as friends. Whether they are family or friends, I believe negativity should not be put up with. Especially when being a first time mother who is continuously learning the ropes of parenthood, whilst having to deal with PND and insecurities of being a failed parental figure.
2. Communicating more with my husband.
At the peak of my PND, my husband and I were barely talking to each other. And if we were talking, it was arguing and fighting over everything. When we decided to give our marriage another go, the first thing we agreed on is to communicate a lot better. Communication is truly the key, because if my husband does not know how I feel, he will think everything is ok and I will bottle every drop of emotion, and vice versa. Lack of communication perpetuates the viscous cycle resentment and lets those little demons in your head free reign and have the upper hand.
3. Having “me” time.
“Me time” is pertinent. Whether it is a sleep-in, a walk, reading, gardening or cooking – it is me time. I can burn out so easily if I don’t stop for a moment and have some time to myself. Having this time to myself helps me recollect my thoughts and reassign things rather than bottling them up and slipping into that void of despair and sadness.
4. Living a more wholesome life.
Every morning before I wake up I do a quick 10 minute meditation. I find meditating melts away my worries for the day and is replaced with energy, gratitude and happiness. Also, I find that exercising and eating less processed foods help alleviate my anxieties and I feel less blue.
5. Seeking external help from medical professionals.
Talking to (professional) strangers has helped me see an outside perspective of my PND. My psychologist gave me techniques and advice in handling my mother struggles and mental illness. My psychiatrist unravelled demons of the past that could have sparked certain aspects of my PND. The best thing about talking to a medical professional whether it is a GP, a psychiatrist, or psychologist, social workers or mental health workers, is that it can give an objective outlook rather than a subjective one from provided by friends and family.