What I Want to Share With My Husband About Dealing With My Postpartum Depression
Oh, my love. You have taken our vow “through sickness and in health” to new heights. I know my journey of crawling back from postpartum depression has been your journey too. I know you often feel helpless, not knowing what to do or say. I know that sometimes it is difficult to like me or understand what is going on inside my head. I want to share some things with you that, hopefully, will give you a little more insight into this awful mental illness that has rocked our world:
1. I have trouble accessing my feelings when I’m in the middle of a depressive episode. It’s not that I am actually indifferent to you or to our daughter.
2. One day, I may feel connected to you and to myself, and the next I don’t feel connected to anything at all. I don’t mean to distance myself from you. It just takes all my energy to even be in the world.
3. I love you even when I don’t love myself.
4. Sometimes, I mistake my own negative self-talk for negative feelings toward you. I perceive you as being overly critical of me, when I am overly critical of me.
5. Conversation with me in the middle of a depressive episode is not logical or rational. I’m in my survival brain, not my logical brain. If we need to talk about something, it’s better to talk about whatever it is when my logical center is clearer. Depression makes everything foggy.
6. When I lash out at you, I am really lashing out at myself. Please give me grace.
7. I can fool everyone — even you, even myself — with my “I’m fine” mask. I have become quite adept at putting on that mask. That’s not your fault.
8. It’s possible for me to enter a depressive episode for no discernible reason. I don’t need you to try to fix it, or try to figure out what the reason is, though I love you for wanting to.
9. Some days, getting out of bed in the morning may be the only victory for that day.
10. I have to budget my energy every day, and sometimes that means you get what’s left in the evenings after the baby goes to bed. This doesn’t mean I love you any less or I have placed you lower on my priorities. It means I trust you’ll be OK with what I can give today.
11. I know that humor and positivity are your defense and coping mechanisms. Depression makes it almost impossible to engage with your humor and positivity. Please know that is not a rejection of you. I really am doing the best I can.
12. You are an incredible father. You are the best dad for our tiny girl, and the best partner in parenting I could ask for. My depressive thoughts don’t always let me access that knowledge when I want to make sure the baby is taken care of. That’s not your fault, either. You’re not doing anything wrong — my brain is tricking me.
13. Even though it’s hard to verbalize, your reassurance and support make all the difference in the world. I could not do this without you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I love you, dear husband. This, too, shall pass.
Your Grateful Wife
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Getty Images photo via Tero Vesalainen