Why YOU need support, too
• Postpartum depression affects the whole family.
• Living with her depression will take its toll on you.
• Chances are good that her depression will deplete you of your resources. You’ll be on overload for a while — increase in childcare duties, increase in household duties, decrease in sleep, increase in worry and stress — only touches the tip of the iceberg!
• Do not underestimate the impact your wife’s symptoms and your extra duties will have on you.
• She needs you to take care of yourself.
Find the time to take care of yourself
• Sometimes it seems easier to keep going the way you’re going.
• Stop and think about whether you are taking care of yourself adequately:
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Are you eating well?
- Are you getting any exercise?
- Are you overdoing anything?
- Are you exhausted?
- Are you irritable?
- Are you getting sick more often?
• Try to pay attention to how you are feeling and what you can do to take care of yourself.
• Don’t put yourself on the bottom of the list of things to do. She needs you at your best right now.
Give yourself credit
• She is lucky to have you by her side.
• You are working very hard right now. Every day is hard.
• Accept the fact that some days you will not be at your best.
• Try not to blame her or yourself.
• Try to work in a break now and then.
A word of caution about comfort measures
• If you are vulnerable, in any way, to addictive or self-destructive behaviors, be especially careful.
• Alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, working longer hours, staying out late… some of these may sound appealing at times of stress.
• None of these is a productive coping strategy. They may feel soothing in the short run, but can prove disastrous if they are your only outlets.
• If you find you are relying on support from dangerous territory, step back and approach the situation honestly. Contact a support person or therapist to get you through this.
Excerpted from The Postpartum Husband, by Karen Kleiman