I know, I know, everyone is different, and everyone will have different things that will help and hinder them when they’re feeling depressed. I have rather a close relationship with PND, as I describe here. If you know someone who is struggling with PND, then this little list may help you to empathise with your friend, which in turn should help you help them! When I was in my darkest months, I wrote a list of how I was feeling. I dunno, I needed to get it out of my head, and all my counsellors and my GP were asking how I felt. It’s always at that precise moment that no words come to you at all, right?? You’re left dumb, while you know you had a good way of explaining it earlier that day, and you leave the appointment knowing that they have no idea how you really feel. A lot of the things on this list seem to tally with the NHS site on PND, so I’m assuming that they are quite common among us depressive mummies! But again, by no means is this a finite list. (Warning – this is not a happy list) Here goes;
- Like I’m on a speeding train and can’t get off, slow it down, or stop it.
- No excitement/positivity for the future
- So, so tired
- Like I want to hide from everyone and everything, to stay in bed
- Everything is just relentless
- Like I am unable to do anything
- Really not enjoying being a mummy
- Feeling guilty for not enjoying being a mummy
- So sad
Sounds like a really happy time doesn’t it?! Anyway, hopefully that will give you an idea why saying ‘just buck up’ might have got you, at least, a cold shoulder for a few months, and at most, a punch in the face.
Here’s another list I made once I was feeling a bit better, of the best things people had done for me or said to me during those awful months;
- Delivered meals to us – ready made, all ready to go, or pre-frozen so they could just go straight in the freezer
- Did the washing up without being asked
- Watched the boys for me while I slept/had a coffee/tidied/just lay on the sofa/went to the doctor/shopped
- ‘It’s really hard work’
- Not judging or questioning our parenting choices – especially gentle parenting – never tell a depressed mum that they are spoiling their child if you think they cuddle them too much, or that they will be fine if they put their crying child in bed and leave them. In fact, just don’t comment on their parenting unless it is a compliment or something encouraging.
- ‘I’m sorry it’s so hard. Is there anything I can do to help?’
- ‘How are you, really?’
- ‘When can we come over to help out?’
- Listened to me talk
- Checked in with Daddy Bear to check how he was doing – he found it really tough time too and had no idea what to do to help. He felt very powerless, and needed friends around him too
- Made me a den/nest to hide away in
- Sent us vouchers for Cook Meals – this was a TOTAL LIFESAVER.
- Never say ‘but they’re worth it in the end’.
Look after your friends, people. They need you, and you can help, even by being an anonymous giver of Cook vouchers, or bringing over pizza and Diet Coke. But please ask what you can do to help, listen to them, talk to them, and ask their partners how you can help too. Don’t assume you know what is best, or that you know what to do. Some mums will burst into tears if you take their baby and say ‘go lie down, he’ll be fine with me’, others will give a great sigh of relief and basically throw their baby at you.
This whole experience has helped me to be kinder to other mums/dads that I see out and about too. Seeing things from the PND side of things and having been in every awful situation you can imagine, from Archie Bear lying down in the middle of the pavement, changing a poo-splosion on a busy train platform, literally dragging my toddler across the road, crying in the supermarket queue, I could go on and on and on, I know just how awful that scathing, disapproving look from onlookers makes you feel. Like a big, fat, embarrassed, failure. So, if you see someone having a tough time, whose child is going a bit bonkers, having a meltdown, or just a parent looking like they are about to burst into tears, give them an encouraging smile and maybe give them a hand.