Frequently when people are going through some pretty tough shit, we have a tendency to minimize people’s problems by informing them that other people have it worse.
It’s true. There are always going to be people who have less than I have, who have worse problems, who have been through more. But are we really doing our friends, families and moms a favor by reminding them of this?
This type of stuff is exacerbated for moms too. I see it all the time on baby boards on the internet, comments that others make, etc. Often folks tell moms suffering from postpartum depression to just ‘focus on their sweet little baby’ and just remember that it is going to get better and ‘at least you [insert something about you having it better than some other person on the planet]’.
Is that really helpful? I mean, I know mindfulness is a great tool for people. But when you’re going through a chemical aberration that (in my case) keeps you from even being able to form an attachment with your ‘sweet little baby’, this advice rings hollow. Moreover – this type of advice is actually intended to be a distraction. It’s supposed to distract you from the misery you’re feeling by giving you perspective.
But why can’t we focus on the fact that we’re just having a tough time? Why can’t we acknowledge that yes, we had a baby but our year was kind of crummy? It’s almost like there’s this fear that if we acknowledge the last year was a rolling dumpster fire, that we’re subconsciously applying that descriptor to our child.
Of course that’s not what we’re doing. Sometimes life is just hard. Sometimes you can’t see the silver lining in the clouds. And sometimes, for postpartum depressed mothers, you just can’t see how great your little baby is because of the illness that has wrapped its talons around your brain.
2015 was awful for me. 2016 was kind of a dumpster fire too because it started off with suicidal depression. I’m acknowledging that. I’m owning it.
But the cool thing is: I know how bad it was for that year and a half. Now that I’m better, I can sit and say, you know what? My life is SO amazing now…because it is exponentially better than it was 10 months ago. I can see and feel the difference. I’m so incredibly proud of the fact that I fought so hard to get better. I’m so incredibly proud of the fact that I have the energy to care for my son and actually like doing so now.
Acknowledging the bad helps me appreciate the good…SO much. So if you (or your partner) are having a tough time and going through the hell that is postpartum depression – acknowledge it.
Because when you get better – it’s going to be INCREDIBLE.