You think that bringing a new child into this world is going to be completely joyous for both you and your spouse. Besides the stress of the actual birthing process, you feel that the toughest part is behind you at least for now. You might have never expected postpartum depression to become such a huge part of your home life along with the work that comes with being a new dad. These very things went through my head just a little over a year ago, and I felt absolutely helpless. Looking back though, I realize that things really weren’t hopeless, it was just a tough period in life that slowly improved with time.
If you are struggling to keep your head above water, know that you are not alone, and that things can improve. I am NOT a doctor so please understand that I am not offering medical advice, only practical suggestions that helped me through a very tough time.
Equip Yourself First
The reality of postpartum depression, is that it affects everyone. You might be feeling the grip of depression yourself at this point, or even feel angry or bitter with your situation. Helping yourself first is one of the most important things you can do. You know how when you take a plane flight, they tell you to first put a mask on yourself before trying to put one on anybody else in case of an emergency. If you feel like you are drowning, you need to equip yourself to survive before you can help your wife and baby. Going to see a doctor, and a therapist is a good place to start. Some of you tough guys will think this is a weak move, or that you just need to get tougher to deal with your situation. I can tell you that is a big mistake, because you are dealing with other people’s feelings as well and not just your own. Getting proper medication and counseling will equip you to not only cope, but help your spouse with what she is going through. More on that in just a bit though.
At the time of dealing with my own depression, I built a really great friendship with another guy my age who had dealt with the same thing himself several years back. The boost I got from just grabbing lunch to chat with him about life and coping was a huge help for me. I highly suggest you make an effort to talk with a few trusted guy friends who will be willing to listen and empathize with your situation, particularly ones that already have a child themselves if possible. Additionally, Never be afraid to ask for help from family and close friends, because you will need all you can get right now.
Help Her Get Help
Being empathetic and encouraging isn’t the only thing you can do as a husband. Helping your wife to get help herself can be a huge challenge. She may not want to do anything but lay in bed or watch TV all day. It may take everything you have to encourage your spouse to get to a doctor, but if you have done it yourself already, you are setting an example and showing how serious you take the situation of your family. It may take months until she is finally ready to get help. You cannot physically force a human to do something they don’t want to do without hurting their dignity, so making every effort to be positive in your discussions about solutions is going to be extremely important. Remember that negativity and belittling your spouse will only set you back, so try your best to be understanding and not expect too much at this point.
Keep Your Head Up
Postpartum depression isn’t fixed overnight, but with time things can get better. Prepping your mind to stay strong for your family, and understanding your long-term goals is a must. Never forget that you can control your own actions. Don’t focus on what you can’t control. Find joy in your new child, and know that he/she needs you more than ever to be loved and cared for. Keep focused on how you can make things better not only for your wife, but also for yourself. And remember that taking even a little bit of time as a break for yourself to rest your mind and refocus is an important key to maintaining your resolve to help your family.
Yea it sucks that the situation is difficult, but a lot of guys deal with the same situation you do, and I was one of them. I was able to get through it and things are 100 times better now. Don’t despair, you will get through this!