Updated: Feb 28, 2021
You just had a baby, and now everything is happening. How do you know whether
you are “just” sleep deprived or you are suffering from depression? Looking at a list of the symptoms of depression- almost all of them are also normal symptoms of having a baby. Sleep deprivation, difficulty to concentrate, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, irritability, loss of interest in sex, aches & pains, over- or under-eating- all of these are normal occurrences in parenthood. It is not surprising then that a large number of people suffering from depression are not getting any support. Maybe you just expect parenting to be hard and you think you are “just tired”. Maybe you think your difficulty to cope just means that you aren’t trying hard enough or aren’t a good enough parent. Even though becoming a parent is so ordinary we just don’t hear enough of how hard it is for people. So it is so easy to think that you are the only one who hasn’t got it figured out. On Facebook, instagram and everywhere we mostly just get shown the “nice” moments. We don’t see the messy bits. Here is an invitation: if you are finding it hard to cope- please know that you absolutely deserve support. You do not need to nor should you be alone with this. And please know this also: you are good enough. Your parenting is good enough. Your children will be ok. Regardless of whether you suffer from depression or not- none of us can do parenting on our own. If things are very hard I want to invite you to book yourself in to see your GP. They can help you differentiate whether your difficulty is more serious. No you are not taking up space for people who need it more. This is important. If you have any doubt at all- please just go and check. The earlier you get a diagnosis the easier it is to get help. And you can get better. You may or may not choose to take anti-depressants. Or see a qualified psychotherapist or counsellor. There are many different ways to get help. And there is a lot in your power that can help you (which applies to all of us regardless of any formal diagnosis). We need to remember to care for ourselves. Don’t just look after your child, look after you too. On airplanes they say "in case of an emergency put your life vest on before helping others". This is the same. We need to put our life vest on first to be able to parent. And this includes getting time to rest, time for ourselves, doing something fun, eating well, getting exercise, being in nature, hanging out with friends- all of these are known to help improve depression (and sometimes you also need therapy and/or meds to help- that is ok!). Depression and indeed parenthood can be incredibly lonely.
I want to reach out to you and invite you to not stay that way.