Having postnatal depression is crap. But, like many illnesses it’s not just the person who has it who suffers. It’s also the people that live with them that have to go through it as well.
That’s what happened to me. I didn’t suffer from postnatal depression, my husband did. I’m currently hijacking his blog to talk to you about what helped us through his postnatal depression. Luckily for me, or maybe not, I’ve grown used to his depression. He’s had depression pretty much most of our relationship, so I’ve been here before, but I wasn’t prepared. At all. Knowing him, and knowing that this was everything he wanted, since very early on in our relationship, it was an incredibly hard thing to watch and cope with. Still to this day, I’m not quite sure how I didn’t have a breakdown myself. Anyway, here’s my five things to help with someone going through postnatal depression.
1. Don’t Judge the Feelings
Believe it or not, they actually can’t help how they feel. However frustrating it is for you, however angry it makes you feel that they don’t even appear to like their baby, let alone love them, it’s probably a lot worse for them. This is going to be very hard not to judge their feelings, but it’s important that you try. If you have a go at them for how they feel it’s only going to make them worse. They could then start feeling guilt as well as the depression and this will take them much longer to recover.
2. Don’t Forget About Them
It’s easy to forget about your partner when you have a newborn. You’re trying to recover and your mind is trying to process everything that’s going on, you don’t really know what the hell you are doing, and you’re very much sleep deprived. But your partner is there too. And they’re used to having all your time and devotion spent on them. Now all of a sudden they’re pushed out and left at the wayside. Even if it is because you have a baby to look after.
I’m not saying you should ignore the baby and focus on your partner, that’s not going to work. But try to find time to spend together. When the baby sleeps, spend that time together. You can still tuck yourselves up on the sofa and watch a film, take walks together somewhere and even go away to a hotel. It’s a great way for the three of you to bond away from all the distractions of the house.
3. Try Not to Push Them Into It
It’s incredibly hard to find the balance between involving your partner with the baby and making them feel like they’re being demanded. Rather than pushing them into something that they’re not ready to do, take your time with them. Instead of saying “you can change her nappy,” say “do you want to change them?” Let them come to it.
Don’t get me wrong, this will likely make things more difficult for you, I’m not going to lie, it is incredibly frustrating, but pushing your partner into things will only make them resent the baby more, and push them further into a bad cycle.
4. Take Your Time
This might not be something that will be quickly fixed. There’s no timetable for this. It might be over in a few months, as it was with us, or it might go on for years. The important thing to do is to just stick at it. If you keep at it, and be there for them during this time, then it’s likely it will be over sooner rather than later.
5. Seek Help For Them
If this is your partners first experience with depression then they may not think they need help. They may not even want to admit that they are depressed. So you might have to gently push them in the right direction. If you feel that they are suffering, make the doctors appointment for them. It’s what I had to do a few years ago, and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. Yes, they have to be willing to help themselves, there’s only so much you can do, but seeking the help for them might be just what they need.
Hopefully some of these things can help you find a way to make your partner feel better. Don’t get me wrong, it was extremely hard on me too. Sometimes I felt like I had to tip-toe around on egg shells, worried I’d say something to make him worse. At times, it felt like I had two babies to look after, and I know that sounds bad. But it was extremely hard being a first time mum, not knowing what I was doing whilst also looking after and attending to my husband, who will admit, at times was equally or more needy.
There certainly are little things I wish I had done, such as; looking into male postnatal depression, I mean, with a history of depression,it shouldn’t have really been a shock but still, I never gave it a second thought. Secondly I wish we spent more time by ourselves in the very early days and said no to people. But you learn from all experiences, good and bad.
I hope you enjoyed me stealing his blog for a post, I might come back another time to talk about breastfeeding. I know he can write something about it, but he isn’t the one actually doing it, so maybe I’ll be back again.
Feel free to leave a comment below if you can think of anything that can help someone with postnatal depression. It’s currently #PNDAW17 so there may be a few more things related to this on the website over this week, so keep an eye out on the Facebook page.
There’s also a postnatal depression toolkit on the website, so you can check that out for more ideas.