I have suffered with PND (post natal depression) with both of my sons. Much more severely with my first son but it has still been present this time around. My son is now 8 months old and I am only just coming through my PND, with the help of medication and some amazing friends and family. These friends and family members are awesome but in the main part they didn’t know, at first what to do. They didn’t know what to say or what to do so that led me to this blog; How to help someone with PND.
PND effects women very differently. The way PND effects me enables me to look after my sons and their needs. I am able to look after my husband and keep a household running but I will completely neglect myself. I feel like I don’t deserve the time and effort I put into everyone and everything else. If there is a small window of time I will almost always fill it with something to do with housework or my sons or husband.
Exhausting doesn’t come close.
There are certain things that would have helped me though. Had it been noticed earlier and had I not have been hospitalised these are a few things that I feel really would have made a difference. I’m not saying I would never have suffered PND if these things had been done I am simply saying that these would have eased things and more than likely things would not have got as bad as they did.
How to help someone with PND:
- Be there for them; That’s literally it. You don’t have to have the right answers or be able to ‘fix’ anything, just simply being a shoulder to cry on or someone to listen would make such a difference to someone suffering. Feeling alone was a big problem for me so even having someone sit with me would have made me feel less alone.
- Try to make sure they eat and drink (water); I really struggled with this. I am diagnosed with anorexia so it was a huge problem for me but I know many women who this has been difficult for. Try to make it relatively healthy, not chips every night, as if she does also struggle with food this will make things even worse. Cook a super quick stir fry or just chop up some fruit and veg for her to pick on. Make sure you are making her a glass of water or squash and keep topping it up. I can promise you if you don’t make her something to eat then she probably wont eat at all.
- Offering to go to appointments with her; I never had this. I had many appointments to go to, baby related and mental health related but never had the offer of anyone coming with me. In all honesty, most of the time I would probably have said no but just the fact that someone had offered would have made me feel that I was loved, I was important and I needed to get better. Even if you go but offer to sit in the waiting room I’m sure that will be greatly appreciated – the worst part of appointments is sometimes the waiting before hand!
- Help her out so she can sleep – day and night; Sleep is a big trigger for me. It is the biggest and quickest reason for a decline in my mental health. However, I am also aware that lack of sleep comes hand in hand with having a new baby. Also, a discussion I’ve often had with other mums is how difficult (or impossible in my case) it is to nap when baby naps. I suffer with insomnia and have to take medication to sleep at night so there is never any chance of me sleeping in the day but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t offer. If we don’t want to nap can you take baby for a few hours so we can rest at least or have baby overnight so we can sleep for at least one night. Offer up ideas as us mummies can be reluctant to ask.
- Be a bit forceful – if needed; I 100% need people to be forceful with me. If someone hints or casually mentions in conversation that they could babysit I will instantly dismiss them as not really wanting to help – they are only mentioning it to be polite. You need to tell me when you are coming and how long you’ll be gone, for me to take you seriously. I would be so grateful for this and I have few close friends who are the same.
- Tell her you’re proud of her; And so you should be! She has given birth to a baby, whether that’s via C-section or naturally both are amazing but incredibly hard – physically, mentally and emotionally. Tell her you’re proud of her for getting help for her PND, another incredibly brave thing to do, admit you’re struggling and ask for help. She might not believe you at first (I never do) but eventually it’ll get through and she will feel so loved and so glad she spoke up. So make sure she knows what an awesome mummy she is. It will honestly mean so much.
Things do get better. It can be a long and tough road for some, me included, but with help and support things will improve. PND and Me founded by a lovely lady called Rosey is amazing if you are struggling, feel alone or feel like you can’t talk to your family or friends. She runs a weekly Twitter chat Wednesday at 8pm #PNDhour and it honestly will make you feel like you are not alone. So many women struggle and this is just one of the amazing online support groups for PND.
Just remember never be ashamed of having PND. You didn’t ask to have it and it certainly doesn’t make you any less of a mother. You are strong enough to fight it. If I can, you can.
Stay strong, stay safe.
Lots of love,