postpartum depression

A Lesson in Acceptance

As we break into the New Year, many people are focused on the "New You". At Blooma, we think you are great just the way you are. You are perfect. You are enough. Thank you to Blooma mama Shea for teaching us a lesson in acceptance. Of our talents, our failures, and all that life throws at us!

Be an individual. Be yourself. Be unique. Follow your dreams. Be who you are. These are all maxims that we hear every day. They are meant to be inspiring and move us to work on ourselves.  However, it often takes a dose of bravery to truly show and be your individual and unique self, instead of hiding behind the person you think you should be.

As a married mother of two on the ground and one in utero, sister, friend, neighbor and confidant, am still trying to figure out who I am. Yes, I can tell you that the beach by the ocean (doesn’t even matter where as long as there is saltwater and ocean waves) is my happy place. I can tell you the books I have devoured and the ones that I slogged through, just to finish for book club. I can tell you that I enjoy going on a run and practicing yoga. And, I can tell you that there was great joy in my heart when all of my siblings were together for Christmas, as we live in all different states across the country.

But, I can also admit to you, that sometimes it’s hard to accept who I am. It is amazing when you look at humanity, and even smaller, at the local culture, and see how similar we all are. Each of us follow very similar patterns – patterns in our day, in our human development, in our manners of speech. However, even in all these similarities, each person is gifted with specific characteristics that make us, us. For example, I’ve been given the gift of gab. I can pretty much chat with whoever walks into my path. I find it relatively easy to small talk, and can usually find something to talk about with whoever I am with. Yes – I know those who are even better at it than I am. But, I do know it is a gift, and I love having this strength in my pocket.

 I have, however, NOT been given the gift of craftiness. It will take a lot for me to pull out the scissors, glue, and glitter. I can sew on a button, but I cannot make a Halloween costume. A few years ago, I tried to make my son a Halloween costume from scratch – because I truly thought that’s what a successful mom should do. However, it was a complete disaster, and was only saved by my own mom, who can actually sew. I learned that, frankly, I don’t really want to learn how to be crafty. That being crafty does not excite me and brings unneeded pressure and stress. I will accept my failure at a homemade Halloween costume, hand it off to another person, and I will marvel and compliment you on your talent. But, I am going to be right here, with my own set of strengths.

img_64191

 

I am still learning to accept who I am, what strengths (and weaknesses) I have been given, and how I can learn to be the best version of myself. And, I am grateful for those that already accept me as I am - My family, children, friends. I remind myself that I must practice what I preach. I want my children to love themselves, accept their strengths, and accept the times that they may fail. To instill this in them, I first need to fully accept myself. My strengths. My failures.

I have been given many gifts, and for this I am grateful. My strengths are different than those of the mama next to me. They may be similar to the mama in the other room. But these similarities, differences, strengths, and weaknesses are what make us human, and what make it so important to support one another in the community. So, begin your own journey of acceptance and what you are meant to be for this world.

img_5077

 

Written by Shea Olson- Wife & Mama Trying to Make it All Work

Photo Credit: Laura Rae Photography

5 Things a Father Would Like You to Know About Postpartum Depression

Being a good dad means I need to be fair, present, kind, consistent, a good communicator, loyal, supportive, open-minded, a good leader, a fair disciplinarian and take good care of myself.

Pretty much …. Perfect.

The truth is, I’m not perfect. I’m human…. and this dad thing is humbling. It’s kicking my ass and bringing me great joy all at once. I’ve never had this kind of experience before.

I have postpartum depression - and so do up to 25% of my male peers.

Here’s what I need you to know:

1 - The traditional therapy model doesn’t work for me.

  • Showing up and admitting to another woman that I’m damaged is very scary and feels unnatural. Men are taught we are supposed to be "tough", and showing emotion makes us wonder if you will still view us as a competent protector and provider.
  • Asking me to talk about emotions I don’t even understand (vulnerability, denial, joy, shame) often leads to a shut-down. Rather than admit that I don't know what to say, I want to "fix" the problem. And I can't "fix" emotions. It's like expecting me to speak a foreign language that I’ve have never heard before.
  • I’d respond better to alternative methods of therapy. Emotion-focused couples therapy can be very helpful, if we are willing to be vulnerable. Here, couples learn an emotional vocabulary, and how to move towards each other, versus away.  Peer support is also very effective. Listening to other men’s stories and having a safe outlet outside of familiar relationships helps me with processing. It also creates accountability, provides mentorship and friendship.

2 - Shame and low self-esteem are my greatest issues -  not anger.

  • Shame is often rooted in family and childhood issues, past trauma/abuse, bullying, and messages from society. Exploring this stuff can often reduce my shame and increase my self-esteem, but often takes time and a therapist that knows to move very slowly.
  • When I am experiencing depression - I presses play on my “worthlessness script” and then act in a way to reinforces it. Why? Because it is what I know how to do and it’s easier than exploring feelings of inadequacy, helplessness, shyness, uncertainty, stupidity or other shame- rooted emotions.
  • What I was taught - is not my fault. It’s helpful for me to hear that what happened to me in my life, what I was taught about self-worth and what it means to be a man,  is not my fault. I also want to know that I have a choice- to continue the cycle, or learn ways to break it.

3 - My postpartum depression will look a lot different than a woman’s.

  • Anger and reckless behavior will be prevalent. Overworking or over-engagement in hobbies to avoid being home, sleeping more or staying up later at night and somatic symptoms (headaches, pain, stomach problems) may be present.
  • Other signs include higher risk of substance abuse, risky behaviors like driving recklessly or engaging in fights.
  • Onset of these mood disorders often occurs later in the postpartum time than in women.
  • Postpartum depression in fathers is seen worldwide.
  • My risk increases if the partner/woman in the relationship has depression, anxiety or OCD. I’m also at an increased risk if I’ve had a past depressive episode or a family history or depression.

4 - There’s no exact tool out there to diagnose my male postpartum depression.

  • Online tests and instruments in general should not be used to make a diagnosis. They are often not thorough enough, personalized enough, and I could lie or minimize my symptoms. But tools like a depression test or the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale can be given as a way to plant a seed for future reflection or conversation.
  • Ask me!!! Is being a father what I envisioned? How is it different? What has the experience of fatherhood been like for me?"
  • Having a partner share their observations in an early therapy session (but NOT the first) can be helpful. Let me create some rapport with the therapist first, and when you come, talk more about my behaviors than how you perceive I’m feeling.

5 - If you suspect I am suffering - don’t push, plant seeds.

  • If I say "I’m Fine" - don't argue. Share your own observations, let me know you are here if anything changes.
  • Tell me it’s ok to feel scared. Tell me it you see me, support me, love me.
  • Try to engage me in activities versus talking about feelings. Suggest we take a walk together, or do a physical activity together that we enjoy. It’s less scary than a face-to-face conversation about feelings.
  • If we decide we need to, lets contact the pros. If I don’t have the energy to call for an appointment - that’s okay. Help me make the call.

 

This piece was inspired by “Parental Mood Disorders: What you need to know about working with Dads” - presented by Mark Meier and Crystal Clancy at the 2016 Beyond the Baby Blues Conference.

Mark Meier, Founder of Face It, a Minneapolis-based center to help men overcome depression.

Crystal Clancy, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at Stages Counseling, based in Eagan.

 Sarah Auna, Lamaze-certified Blooma Childbirth Educator.

 

The Top 15 Blooma Blog Posts: #1 – “My Walk with Postpartum Depression & Anxiety”

Once again we bow our heads to our fearless, amazing leader Sarah Longacre. We cannot imagine the courage it took to write this blog post that has been viewed tens of thousands of times and shared all across the world.

For any mother out there struggling with these same issues - know you are not alone. Please know that you can reach out to anyone at Blooma, or go on our Resources page to seek help if you feel so inclined. This horrible bear of a disease affects one in eight mothers, and that is just too much.

Let's shout our stories from the rooftops and do what we can to end this terrible disease.

Once again we need to thank Sarah for sharing this incredible story, this number 1 post in our Top 15 Blooma Blog posts of all time:

"My Walk with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety"

Love to all the mothers out there.

Ann + the Women of Blooma