by meta on Thursday March 6th, 2014
About (my) Mental Health
Those of you following the blog long enough may remember that I experienced a mild depression and a few burnouts during the last 3 years. In fact I only started to feel better since last year, and feel truly happy again the last 6 months or so. This morning I read this blog post and it all came back.
In the blog post, Gabrielle said:
“I realize that if you haven’t experienced anything like this before, the idea that I wanted to die might freak you out. But amazingly it’s actually quite normal for someone who is depressed. Isn’t that awful? “
I was lucky that I realized that I was having depression VERY early. Honestly I knew I was having depression when I suddenly understood why people would kill themselves and why couples got divorced. I wasn’t feeling suicidal and I knew I didn’t want to get a divorce, but that time I understood how someone would feel like it was an option, perhaps the ONLY option. I am generally a positive and happy person so that it was obvious to me that something was wrong in me – in my head as well as in my body.
For weeks I cried very often and I felt so alone. I had 2 little children to take care of, no family nearby and my husband buried himself in work. I knew that my depression was still mild so that I didn’t look for medical help. I called my doula to come help me. She came for 3 weeks and helped me tremendously. It was also an eye opener that help was available, I just had to shout for it!
The year after was hard. I was still under post-partum hormonal whack, my husband was “ignoring” us by working all the time (also during the nights and on weekends), we moved house and suddenly there were so many things to do, and me finally staying at home with no income. Bad, bad combination. But thankfully I managed to keep my head above water. I read a lot, and being a scientist I constantly analyzed our situation, I tried small adjustments and easy fixes that some worked. I also concluded that it was partly a very hard early parenthood phase (at least for me – for those in deeper depression it may NOT be just a phase).
When I finally got a space at a day care for my son, I got mended quickly. I could breath, did many of those things on my to-do list, and finally had my me-time. So yes, stay-at-home moms may need help with child-care, too. I know that many of you live in similar condition to me, being too far from family support. I can say that it’s NOT normal to care for your children 100% of the time. Get some help! It takes a village to raise a child – it does!
Paying for a day care while we only have one academic income is A LOT. We couldn’t save, let alone afford vacations. But for that price, I was healing mentally and I believe it saved our marriage (again, I never wanted to separate from my husband, but there was a significant crisis in our relationship). In addition my son loved it there – he could play with other kids and learned French. It was a win-win for us.
As I already mentioned above, things already look brighter for me now. I know that depression is not uncommon among us. Remember that a burnout, as mild as it may sound, is a real mental health problem. Realize it early and take actions, save yourself and those who love you.
If you think you are suffering from any kind of depression, I plead you to seek help. These below are the things that helped me:
- Postpartum support from my doula
- Day care (2 full days/week) for my son (then 1y) and Jardin d’enfants (3 mornings/week) for my daughter (then 3y)
- Stay-cations (we spent many few-day trips in Bern where a good friend lived. It helped us to refresh ourselves while keeping the cost down)
- Leaving the not so important things aside. Replying emails and blogging were among those. Remember that I only posted a few blogs between 2011-2012?
- Coming back to my hobbies. I re-started sewing, and even found a new hobby: gardening
By no means I’m saying any of those are for you. You will have to find what works for YOU. My hope is that you can see that even the very simple things may help.
Sometimes, one does need professional help and medications. Please consider them. I know one, Elizabeth Frei, was recommended by many:
Elizabeth Frei, Ph.D.
Centre de praticiens de santé à Lausanne
Rue Beau-Séjour 28
079 954 40 11
Disclaimer: I received no compensation for listing any names here, and I had no first hand experience with any of them
I hope that by sharing my story I could help at least one other depressed person, and to raise awareness about mental health. Early parenthood is extremely hard, and with all the hormonal changes post-partum mothers are prone to it. But we also know depression can strike anyone anytime, it’s not a weakness nor failure, so don’t hesitate to shout for help!
P.S. If you have more time, do read Gabrielle’s blog post that inspired me to write my own story.