I've been fortunate enough to speak with quite a few amazing Mums lately. As Karen Kleiman, founder of the Postpartum Stress Center, says, a Mom's ability to seek support shows their strength of character. When I have the distinct privilege to witness the struggles that Moms share with me, I feel humbled. Let's face it, Mommin' is hard these days. Societal pressures seem to come at us from every angle, like walking down a street and being knocked in the head with flower pots with each step. We're told to be happy, be thankful, be gracious, be eco-conscious, be natural, be fit, be flexible, be organized, be effortless, and above all, be strong.
Mamas Need Their Allies
When you suffer from Postpartum Distress, depression and anxiety can wreak havoc on your ability to cope. It is so important to find your allies. Perhaps your supports are a Mom's group like the ones that the Mama Coach's here in Calgary have created; or perhaps it is your neighbour, your partner, your Mom, or your therapist. Finding those who you can ask for help from is necessary. You also need to find those who can be present with you when you're feeling down, without pushing a "chipper up" agenda. This is when sometimes connecting with a psychologist or counsellor is worthwhile; someone who can share the space with you without judgement or dismissal.
Discovering Your Innate Resilience
Maws who have gone through PPD and take an active role in their recovery learn tools to buffer times where things get tough. Learning to tolerate distress and then rise above it helps to shift the narrative from shame and guilt to strength and resilience. Finding strategies or tools that help is very personal and individualized. What will work for some, will not work for everyone, so give it time and be compassionate. Remember that doing the work and being an active participant is what's most important. Trust that you will find what works. Kleiman (2009) reminds Mums that have begun the healing process:
Take it slow
Do not expect too much too soon
Do not overextend
Expect intermittent bad days or slight regressions in progress
Guilt will get in the way
Mommin' ain't easy, so be gentle with yourself. Ask for help. Find your allies. Remember that self-care is not a luxury.
*There are so many words that describe Mothers. Because of this, I've used a variety in this post. That being said, the list of cultural representations are bountiful. Find the one that you feel most energized by and Mom-on!
**Special thanks again to Valerie Schneider Photography.