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

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