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5 Tips to Survive (and Enjoy) Mother's Day With Postpartum Depression

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We’re told Mother’s Day is about breakfast in bed, joyful tears over handmade cards and feeling celebrated for the job we’re doing as mums.

However, if you’re a mum suffering with ill maternal mental health this “wonderful” day can instead be filled with dread. A day where you want to hide away in bed rather than have breakfast in it. A day where tears are shed because you feel unworthy of the handmade cards and the little people who made them. And a day where you feel you don’t deserve to be celebrated as you’re doing a terrible job at motherhood.

I’ve been there. As a mum of two, suffering with severe postnatal depression and postpartum psychosis, the last person I wanted to celebrate on Mother’s Day was myself. As far as I was concerned, I was the worst mum in the world and a total fraud accepting gifts and cards telling me how lucky my beautiful girls were to have me in their lives.

As Mother’s Day approaches, I’m well and looking forward to the day and everything it stands for. However, for every mum who’s not reached this point, I’ve put together some tips on getting through the day.

1. Stop telling yourself to be happy.

I ordered myself to be happy on Mother’s Day. I’d warn myself that I needed to put aside my depression and feel happy. If you’re doing this, you need to stop. Your illness is not controlled by a switch. You cannot flick the switch to make everything OK just for the sake of one day. Therefore, this Mother’s Day try to silence these “be happy” demands and instead remind yourself that just being there on the day is enough.

2. Know your triggers.

Maternal mental health illnesses have triggers. They range from the smallest and inconsequential to the overwhelming and terrifying. This Mother’s day try to recognize these triggers and minimize them being triggered. By doing so you will be taking back some form of control, making you feel more in charge of your illness and how your days play out.

3. Lower your expectations.

Mums face huge pressure, and as a mum with a maternal mental health illness, this increases ten-fold as we battle our demons telling us we’re not good enough, no matter how hard we try. Therefore, this Mother’s Day lower expectations on yourself to have a perfect day. Mother’s Day does not have to be a perfect and happy extravaganza of activities. Keep the plans simple. Pay no attention to what other people are doing on social media to celebrate theirs. Instead focus on being kind to yourself, taking time out when you need to and enjoying time just you and your little family.

4. Give yourself the gift of honesty.

A catalyst for my bad days was hiding how I was feeling for fear of upsetting others. I didn’t realize that being honest with myself and others about my feelings would in turn help me feel less anxious and isolated and allow my family to better understand and help me. Therefore, this Mother’s Day be honest with yourself and your family about how your feeling. As by being honest about these feelings you take away the power they have over you.

5. Remind yourself that you are worthy!

Keep reminding yourself that you are worthy of the love and kindness you will be receiving on Mother’s Day. You are a fantastic mum who is also battling a maternal mental health illness and are doing this every day. Therefore, you my courageous and incredibly strong friend are quite simply incredible.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Photo submitted by contributor.

Originally published: April 19, 2019
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