Watch Your Words
Well, my hair is finally starting to grow back. You might be thinking: “Okay…awesome…no woman wants to be bald?” This is a big deal for me, though, because every time it starts growing back, I know that the fog is lifting and post-partum depression is getting further and further away from me. I have been victorious in beating this illness 4 times now and each time was difficult in its own right. This time, however, I was able to stare at it from a different perspective and make a list of all the things I wish someone had or hadn’t said to me over the past 6 months, and stay somewhat jovial about it. If you know someone who is pregnant or has recently delivered, make sure your words are meaningful and carry value. Here are 7 of the top things I wish someone had or had not said to me during this last spat of PPD:
1.) DON’T SAY - This is just a phase, you will be alright.
Yes, thank you…I have done this 4 times now…I already know. People, please just do something instead of offering empty encouragement. The intention is well I am sure, but PPD is serious and overwhelming. Just ask for their address and send a meal if you feel like encouraging.
2.) DON’T SAY - Make sure you sleep when the baby sleeps.
This one is probably one of my favorite things NOT to say. When should I shower or eat then? And how exactly would I sleep when the baby sleeps, but my toddler is going 100 miles per second? Oh, yes…you don’t sleep. Instead, ask them when nap time is and just SHOW UP. Hold the baby so they can nap or take a shower. I have found that my anxiety would rise if I had to fulfill a task that required me taking my eyes off of the baby for more than a few seconds. Sometimes a 15 minute shower with no crying was all I needed to regain my sanity.
3.) DO SAY – You are a great mother and everything you are experiencing is NORMAL.
Too many times, we forget to praise someone for something that may be considered an everyday thing. Babies are born every day. I was ashamed to admit that I just needed someone to say how good of a job I was doing or to let me know they saw how busy I was with 2 teenagers and 2 babies that needed my attention.
4.) DO SAY – You are going to make it…and I am going to help!
I am guilty of not wanting to ask for help because it has a stereotype that goes along with it of being weak. I know that it is not weakness, but when you are trying to sort through depression or mental illness of any kind, the words used the most are “I’m fine”…and 99% of the time it was because I was NOT fine.
5.) DON’T SAY – I am praying for you.
I know, believe me I know you mean well. But this one triggered me like no other. I was praying too…sobbing on my hands and knees most of the time. You can still pray for that person, but couple it with something that they need or could use. It doesn’t have to cost anything – maybe just pick up the phone once a week and call to see how they are doing. Nothing says “I am too busy” or “I have better things to do” than this one.
6.) DO SAY – You are allowed to be weak right now.
Nothing is worse than feeling like you have to hide a flaw or weakness. One of the greatest things my husband has ever said to me was that I was allowed to have a moment. This takes away the guilt and shame of dealing with something so serious. No one wishes they were depressed…especially with a perfect new baby. Let that person in your life be human and weak for a minute.
7.) DO SAY – When can you start exercising and what day can I come walk with you?
I had many people say that they would come help each time I had a baby, but life is busy. Most of the time, they didn’t have time to come. Anxiety got me good this time by making me scared to leave the house alone. Could I say this to many people? No. I knew that getting exercise would help in so many different ways, but it was impossible to explain how afraid I was to leave by myself with both babies.
Some of the things on this list may seem silly, but they all helped or hurt me. If you are battling anything, try as much as possible to be open with the people you trust. If we were all honest, we would all be reaching out for help more days than not.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.