“Your illness does not define you, your STRENGTH and COURAGE does.”-anonymous

When Sandy came in for her first therapy session she was very distressed. She sat on my couch in my office and told me her story.

Sandy had a healthy baby 6 months ago yet she was still not feeling herself. She was crying all the time, had no energy, little appetite and was not bonding liked she had hoped with her daughter Kayla. Sandy hated motherhood. Although she felt sad and lonely, Sandy longed to be by herself, fantasying of spending her days in bed. She even thought occasionally about running away. She stopped caring about the things around her. She never left the house and she had no energy to cook or tidy up. She rarely changed out of her sweatpants and often looked unkept. This was a drastic change from the Sandy who loved to dress up and went to the hairdresser for blowouts twice a week. She cut off contact with those around her, even her closest friends. She declined invitations to baby groups or playdates. She even refused to go to her parents her house for a Mother’s Day BBQ. Her husband Mark tried to be supportive but she felt frustrated by his efforts. Sandy felt guilty...she thought she was a terrible wife and mother.

By the end of our session it appeared that Sandy was suffering from the classic symptoms of postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression (PPD) is a complex, taboo and often misunderstood mental health condition. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association the condition affects up to 20% of Canadian mothers.

Some tips for Coping with Postpartum Depression:

Express yourself:
Reaching out to those around you can really help ease the loneliness, anxieties, sadness and isolation that is accompanied by postpartum depression. Share your feelings and fears with your partner, best friend or online support group. Having someones understanding and support is the first step to healing.

Take care of yourself:
After your baby is born it is easy to let your needs become secondary. However it’s imperative that you remember to take care of yourself as well. Remember that in order to give your baby the care he/she needs, you have to be in the best emotional and physical state possible. Getting some sleep, eating balanced meals, doing exercise and believing in your motherly instinct will help you heal.

Get help:
Do not suffer from postpartum depression alone. Since postpartum depression is a medical condition it is VERY important you consult with your doctor as well as a therapist that specializes in postpartum depression.

Working through this PPD takes courage, motivation,time and support. Overcoming it will allow you to heal and become the mother you always hoped to be.

About the Author:

Lisa Brookman, MSW, PSW is a psychotherapist with experience working with adults and adolescents who have faced a range of complex challenges.

Lisa’s clinical experience includes working with individual, couple and group therapy for issues such as infertility, postpartum depression, parenting challenges, marital conflict, anxiety, depression, self-esteem and confidence building, grief and bereavement.

She is the Co-Director of the West Island Therapy Centre www.westislandtherapycentre.com