Postpartum depression is a killer
Lately I have been reading a number of news articles mentioning women unleashing atrocities on their newborns or new mothers committing suicides or mothers being delusional or depressed. All these incidents have been attributed to postpartum depression in one way or the other.
Postpartum depression or symptoms related to it have often been ignored in our country. A pregnant woman enjoys all the attention when she is carrying the baby but once the baby arrives, the focus shifts. Mothers feel neglected by their spouses, relatives and families. Add to this the sleepless nights, challenges associated with handling a newborn and a woman's own hormonal upheaval which her body is going through. All this can make life of a new mother hell. Lack of sleep for days on end can drive a normal human being insane. One can't blame a new mother for losing her sanity or balance. And if the spouse or family is insensitive to her condition or questions her abilities to handle a baby, it surely can play havoc with a woman's mental equilibrium.
The truth is that all this can be overcome or treated easily. For one, a woman should call out for help if she feels depressed or suicidal. Motherhood can be pretty overwhelming given a baby's unpredictable timelines and needs. The spouse and the family need to stand like a pillar of strength around the new mother. A little bit of attention and care can prevent huge disasters and can save a mother from tripping over the edge. Some sympathy, love and support and addressing the issues the woman is facing go a long way in helping a woman cope with her new responsibilities without turning negative and cynical towards them.
I myself have faced severe depression after some months of having my baby. Being a working woman all my life, I suddenly felt my life cocooned to diapers, feeding and running around the baby all through the day. I craved for 'me time' and conversations with my husband. So much so that I started hating my husband going out for his work. At times I felt like ending my life. But then better sense prevailed. I told my husband all that I felt and every time I felt overwhelmed, I would rush to him and ask for help.
It was then that both of us decided that I should go down for a walk every day for an hour. This would pump up my 'feel good' hormones and also make me feel less claustrophobic. My mother would come down once every week and I would go for a movie all by myself while she or my husband would take care of Sia. Slowly I started meeting my friends for coffee. I told myself that if I was happy, I would keep my baby happy. Initially leaving her at home made me feel guilty and less adequate as a mother. But I slowly realised that I would rather be less of a mother than a dead mother or a nervous wreck.
The spouse plays the most important role in the post pregnancy phase. As a mother struggles to achieve new milestones, she looks for encouragement, praise and motivation from her spouse. If the spouse is critical of her abilities or does not share any of her responsibilities, it is but natural to feel lonely, cynical and sometimes even start resenting the very baby who the couple have created out of love. It's a sad situation to be in. I really wish and pray that women speak out and ask for help. Ask anyone, your mother, spouse, in-laws, friends, maids, just anyone who cares about you. Form a like-minded group, meet other new mothers, read articles, confide in your gynaecologist. Cry and unburden yourself once in a while. There is nothing to feel ashamed of. Don't be hard on yourself. It's okay to fail. Your baby won't love you less for not being the perfect mother. You are a human being and we all have our bad days, and in case of mothers, bad nights too.
So recognise your needs, address them. It's a phase you will soon overcome and your baby and you will have a lifetime of happiness ahead. Do not let this phase ruin your entire life. You have created a beautiful life in the form of your newborn. It's your duty to nurture and protect it. But self comes first. Only a mentally sound mother can raise a mentally sound and happy child. So do all to keep yourself happy. Ask for your happiness. Work towards it. You deserve to be happy. Nothing is worth losing yourself or your child!
Till my next post! You can write to me at http://mammamania.in
More about Shabia Ravi Walia
Shabia Ravi Walia is a media professional for the past 15 years. Dabbling in production, creative direction and writing, she has equal experience in both genres of fiction and non fiction. Over the years she has worked on various reputed non fiction shows like Surabhi and The Good Food Guide for Siddharth Kak, Movers and Shakers on Sony TV and well known fiction shows like Siddhanth, Kumkum, Ek thi Rajkumari, Mile Jab Hum Tum etc. She was amongst the core team who launched Sahara Samay in Mumbai for Sahara Television.
She satiates her love for writing by providing content for websites, copywriting for corporate films and penning down short skits and poems.
Currently Shabia works in the content division of a leading television channel. However her biggest achievement till date as considered by her, is the birth of her baby Sia and penning down the experiences associated with it in the form of her bestselling book 'Mamma Mania.' When Shabia is not rustling up stories, she loves to whip up a storm in the kitchen or put on her dancing shoes and burn the dance floor. Shabia lives in Mumbai with her husband Ravi and daughter Sia and is already planning her 2nd book.