It’s September and back to school season came and went. It will always feel like Fall to me, when packing the backpack, gathering snacks, and the 6:30 walk to the bus stop begins again. It should be Autumn, but here in north Georgia it still feels like summer. Fall is a fresh start for the kids to get back to their education, and thankfully the kids are physically going to school. What a relief. As much as I would love to be sipping a pumpkin spice latte, I’ll likely end up at the pool a couple of times this week, and it’s already almost Fall Break!
It’s a crazy time of year, where things aren’t as they seem. It’s crazy getting up at 5:50 after a summer of “sleeping in” until 7:00, and walking to swim practice, and multiple trips per week to the library. It’s crazy with Curriculum night, and buying supplies, and scheduling haircuts, and sending emails to new teachers and finding out who the new bus driver is. Y‘all it does not get easier as they get older, it just gets different.
Go ahead and make a couple of extra cups of coffee. I’ll wait.
Speaking of crazy, I want to talk a little bit about mental health. On the stage of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the great Semone Biles said it out loud- she wasn’t ok. That must have been hard, to say the least. And she got a lot of feedback. People say she needs to get over herself and pull it together, and others applaud her strength and bravery for following her instincts and knowing when to take a break. I can’t imagine what she and her teammates were feeling when she withdrew from the team competition. Thanks to Semone, people are talking.
And you know I’m bring this back home, right? It reminds me of bringing home that baby. The first baby. When you thought you knew what it meant to be a parent, and then your realized that you have no idea what you’re doing, and it’s too late, the baby is here. And hungry. And screaming. And you’re all alone. Maybe you’re not alone physically- your mom, your partner, your MIL is helping you. But maybe you are. And whether you are or not, you may FEEL alone. And scared, and sad. With pregnancy and delivery come a slew of hormones that can make you feel like a crazy person. I know this, because I have been a crazy person. I am throwing this word around, “crazy” because it helps me to cope, but the truth is that 70-80% of birthing parents experience mood disturbances, and 1 in 7 suffer from depression within the first 3 months Post Partum. At 7-8 months PP the number of depressed or anxious birthing parents rises to 1 in 5. And we are not talking about it.
More moms than ever are taking a combination of antidepressants and anxiety medications. And many of us feel guilt that goes hand in hand with postpartum depression and treatment. I am going to say something really loudly now, forgive the shouting.
THERE IS NO SHAME IN SEEKING HELP FOR MENTAL HEALTH. THERE IS NO SHAME IN ASKING FOR HELP. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO EXPERIENCE THIS ALONE.
Ok, that’s done. A lot of moms quietly and tearfully ask me if the prescription they’ve gotten to treat their depression/anxiety is ok for breastfeeding. It mostly is perfectly safe. And you know what else? I‘m going to shout again.
YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT YOU FEED YOUR BABY.
It turns out that baby or not, the whole world has been struggling with their feelings. I hate to even say it. Covid-19 really messed with us. Mental health providers- therapists, counselors, and Psychiatrists have WAIT LISTS. Can you believe that? And guess what else?! Insurance doesn’t typically cover very much.
So, if and when you need support, it is hard to come by on the professional stage, and isn’t affordable for a lot of people. I am outraged.
I am including at the end of this post some resources for parents who are struggling with managing their emotions. And I have to remind you that Postpartum Depression is: (this is my interpretation) baby blues that last longer than 2 weeks postpartum. It can feel like emptiness, sadness, feeling flat, or hopeless. You might feel disconnected, and may have a hard time caring for yourself and/or your baby.
PPD and Anxiety sometimes go hand in hand. A parent can have symptoms of one or both and should seek help. This is no way to live, and we deserve better. Even non birthing parents can experience PPD or anxiety, and it’s more common than you think. When a parent has a history of depression or anxiety it’s even more likely! What is even harder to take here, is that the depressed or anxious parent may not notice their symptoms, and that makes even more challenging. They don’t even know that they need help.
What can you do to combat these feelings PP? -talk to someone- a friend, partner, family member.
-find a professional and tell them what you’re feeling/not feeling- a counselor, a therapist, a psychiatrist, your MD, DO, OBGYN, DC, IBCLC…. These professionals can guide you to your next step.
-take a deep breath, and know that you are not alone.
Post partum mental health disorders are TEMPORARY AND TREATABLE. You will get through this. ♥️
love and peace ✌🏼