When I look back at my experience with postnatal depression, I know there was a lot of things that helped me on my way to recovery. But there was one thing that I feel kick started the whole thing, and that’s going away together.
Going Away Started My Recovery From Postnatal Depression
The first time I ever felt that Isabelle actually liked me was when we were in a random Travelodge in Weston super-Mare. She was propped up on the bed in one of those nursing pillows wearing just a nappy. It was ridiculously hot during a typical British heatwave where everyone shifts from moaning about the rain to moaning about the sun. I was prancing around the room, dancing like a stereotypical dad, when Isabelle must have caught sight of me and started to smile. She was probably thinking “What a dick!”
In that moment, I finally felt something towards Isabelle. I had seen something from her that might indicate that she actually liked me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like this moment cleared up my postnatal depression. Far from it. But it did show me that I could feel something towards her. And that was a huge stepping stone in the direction of recovery.
Why Going Away Helps with Postnatal Depression
Why do I think going away works? For me, there are quite a few reason why going away might help with postnatal depression. First of all, it’s the fact that you’re changing your surroundings. It’s very hard, especially in the early days, to let a sense of cabin fever creep in. You often find yourself looking at the same four walls, doing the same old things day in and day out. There’s a melancholic monotony to everyday life when you have a newborn, and it’s important to escape the cycle.
It also helped me in the sense that there was no other distractions. No house work, no playing host to guests, no cooking, and no other silly things to take yourself away from what’s important. Instead, when you go away, it’s just you, your baby, and potentially your partner.
For me this worked wonders. Because a lot of my postnatal depression came from the fact that I felt like I had no bond with Isabelle, travelling with her really helped me to address that. It also helped me feel like my life wasn’t being put on hold because of her. I could still get out and do stuff, and going away took away that sense that she was a burden.
It Might not be For Everyone
Can I say that this is a foolproof solution to solving postnatal depression? No chance. For some it won’t work at all. The feeling of being out of your comfort zone, and being in an entirely new place with a baby can throw everything off. If you suffer with anxieties as well as postnatal depression then this might even make things worse.
There’s also the aspect of money. Not everyone can afford to go away for a few nights in a hotel, even if it is a cheap Travelodge. Mainly because it’s not just the hotel. You have to factor in travel, food and things that you might want to do. When you add them all together things soon mount up. We did manage to save quite well during my wife’s maternity leave, but the travel did make a dent.
All I know is this: it works for us. We’ve gone away quite a lot since Isabelle was born. I’m not going to list all the places we’ve been, but suffice to say we’ve done a bit. There’s a category full of posts on traveling with Isabelle. Our most ambitious one was a 6 day road trip around the UK with an overnight cruise to Amsterdam, all of which was with a four month old.
It’s a Small Part of the Postnatal Depression Toolkit
I understand that not everything I suggest will work for everyone. I know that there is no one-answer-quick-fix to postnatal depression. We need as many things as we can to help create a better support structure. So that’s why we have to try all that we can to help make ourselves better.
I still struggle from time to time even now. I think I’m just someone who will always have a battle with depression in some form. But knowing what works and what doesn’t is a huge part of that battle. If you’re struggling with bonding with your baby, then maybe this might work. But even if you’re not, sometimes it’s just nice to get away and see somewhere new.