Emily, my wife, was an energetic, optimistic, successful woman. She loved meeting new people, taking on new challenges, and helping others.But that all changed a few months after the birth of our son. Unfortunately she was the 1 in 5 that struggled with Post-Natal Depression. In her case it also came with anxiety. It was a tough time for her, but it was also a tough time for me.
Luckily she is now recovered, but it got me thinking – what would I have wanted to know at the start of our PND journey to make it better. Obviously everyone’s experience is different, but for me I’d love to have known the following:
1) Don’t take it personally – sometimes it was difficult to hear that “life isn’t worth it” or “I just want to run away”. It feels like a personal attack on your – that you’re no longer good enough, you’re doing a bad job. But you are doing great. It’s the depression talking. Try to remain calm and don’t let it affect you.
2) Give her some “me” time – take the baby out so she can paint her nails, suggest she goes for a run (careful with that one 😉 but exercise is great to lift the mood!), buy her favourite magazine and giver her time to read it etc.
3) Encourage her to meet new mums for support during the day. If your partner is anything like Emily was, she will have reduced her life to a select friend or two, or will just live life at home. But it’s important to get out and about – for fresh air – and to talk to adults. www.mummylinks.com is a great way of doing this as it enables mums to create local, ad-hoc play dates securely (it’s invite/approval only) Being ad-hoc is great for mums suffering with PND as they can create something last minute when they know they are feeling up for popping out, or if they want to meet up quickly.
4) Do date nights – it’s important to keep your relationship going and to try and have a life away from baby. Yes this won’t be as often as before baby – but try to schedule something in at least once a month. If you can get out of the house that’s ideal, but if not – order your favourite take away, chat about life, and watch her favourite film.
5) Help with practical things – washing up, cooking, washing clothes etc. PND can make everything seem overwhelming, so taking a few “to-dos” off the list helps.
6) Do some research – PND and other mental health issues are still not well understood by most people. So do some research to find out more. This video has three women talking with brutal honesty about PND. It may well be how your partner feels, and she may not feel comfortable even telling you this. It also shows just how common it is.
7) Find someone to talk to – 50% of men whose partners are suffering with PND also suffer. So it’s important you find someone you can offload on as – for the timebeing your partner won’t be able to cope with this. As men this can be tricky, but it’s really important that you keep yourself well to look after your family. Speak to a trusted friend, family member, or even your GP.
“If your a dad with a partner with PND and need other dads to talk to or maybe you are suffering to please Join the PND daddies hour Monday 8-9pm use the #PNDdaddies to join on – The PND daddy”
Dan – Partner of Emily