Safeguarding myself from PPD

Yup. Me too. I posted about my struggles in 2017 after battling almost a year with some of the most extreme emotions I’ve ever experienced – especially for the duration of time. Disclaimer, I was not officially diagnosed. I didn’t want to be. Click here for that post:

Looking back, the best description I have to summarize what it was like was that it was like I was frozen. I was outside of my body. I knew something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t figure it out – and that bothered me because I am a natural fixer. I had a hard time knowing what my needs were. I felt completely disconnected from my brain. Like I was reacting. In such a fight or flight state, a simple decision like what to make for supper, was nearly paralyzing.

I found myself resenting the one person who’s main objective was to help me, and make me happy and feel loved – my husband. The love of my life. I was shutting him out. Feeling resentful for things like having to shower without dealing with a crying baby, peeing without an audience, taking the dog for a walk, driving in the car without a screaming baby to tend to, finding refuge at work! oh my.

I lost myself.

I pushed him and many others, out of my circle.

The root of all of this, that I believe, was that I wanted SO badly to be able to do it all. I found myself obsessing over my house, trying to control it’s appearance I’d get so angry when someone left dishes out, or even asked if I needed help.

“No I don’t need help! Why would you think that? Do you think I am failing? You do, don’t you! You think I can’t do it! I will show you I can!”. ….was the story I was telling myself. (Thank you Brené Brown).

I completely fixated on things, I cried uncontrollably almost daily, I walked for hours in the middle of the night just to keep my baby asleep and everyone else sleeping too. I was EXHAUSTED.

We put so much on our plate. I pushed. I resented my baby, too. Oh the guilt. I couldn’t adapt and accept. I had this mission to prove the world that I am invincible. Ohhhhhhh what a dangerous mindset. I was in such a spiral, one thing feeding into the next. and I had NO IDEA that what I was experiencing had a label. I wouldn’t accept that. That could never happen to me. I do everything “right”…..somehow the rules didn’t apply to me.

Another disaster mindset!

One thing I have greatly appreciated is people speaking out. One of my dear friends recently spoke out about her struggles. Someone I really thought had it all together. It just goes to show that no one is immune to struggles. We just never know. I think it is safe to assume that Mom’s are struggling in some way or another. So that whole concept of “be kind, you just don’t know what someone has been through” rings so deeply true. Connect to them.

If you want to help, I’ll speak for myself but I’d never ever ever turn down food. 🙂

So what am I doing to protect myself this time? I can’t say that I am not a little bit concerned about my mental state. I’m actually terrified to go down that road again. But this time I feel more prepared.

Here are a few things I’ve been working on.

1. Setting boundaries prior to finding myself in the storm:

I am a people pleaser by nature. I find myself making sure I keep others happy even if it makes me sacrifice myself. I tend to worry too much about what others think and I am scared to disappoint or come across “bitchy”. This is a whole other topic. I’m recovering from this mindset 🙂

I’ve relieved myself of things at work (I didn’t do that last time), I’ve relieved myself from business coaching, I’ve taken most things off my plate. For the first time at the end of my pregnancy, I’m allowing space for nothing. No guilt. I”m actually not wanting this baby to come any earlier than it does. I’m looking forward to REST. I definitely neglected this for myself in the past because I wanted to keep up with everything as if nothing was changing!

I’ve been reading a lot of Brené Brown’s work, along with Boundries: When to say yes and how to say no by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Knowing is one thing, but practicing and doing are another.

I’ve written up my vision, including my boundaries for my birth, and post birth. I’m sending it and discussing it with family and people around me that I will need to count on. When you set boundaries, it can be hard. Trust me. But don’t forget that they are ADAPTABLE! Nothing is written in stone.

Keep practicing, keep communicating.

2. Reflecting

I love self reflecting. I have no problem accepting responsibility for the things in my life. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting, but I’ve matured by practicing this that now I see these times as an opportunity to grow and learn. I make mistakes ALL OF THE TIME.

This is more of a reactive practice, but still one that is relevant for me. Ideally I’d be super great at #3.

3. Being mindful of my feelings and emotions:

This is more ideal. Catching those feelings, recognizing the triggers, and asking if this is something to put attention to, or to let go.

Sounds easy, right? HAHAHAHA. Definitely not. I’m with you! I have gotten really good at feeling the emotion before I react, but I’m still working on letting it go.

Where to start? Try yoga (I try to do it daily!). Try mindfulness apps, try Gentle Birth! Paying attention to breath and thoughts are the foundation to these suggestions. Gotta start somewhere – this is what worked for me. 😉

4. Communicating my needs and my insights with my husband, Jay

As I incorporate all of these steps, I’ve been communicating with Jay. I have been talking to him a lot lately about boundaries, my struggles, and my needs.

We have both realized that we need to prioritize a few self care things to keep us sane day to day. Knowing our lives are going to be completely turned upside down for the next while, it is important that we know what each needs to catch a break, to destress, to recharge.

It is also key to know the signs of struggle. For myself, I get defensive, I get irritable, emotional, I get fixated on things when I’m feeling overwhelmed.

5. Letting go of “expectations” and “obligations” and “guilt”

This is a POWERFUL one for me. Being adaptable is actually the key to health. I know this, but had a hard time applying it to my daily life. Yup. Back to the “rules don’t apply to me”, and “knowing vs. DOING”.

I’ve been practicing this a lot lately. So far, it’s been very successful. Even writing this blog – In the past, I would have wanted to sit and write and would have been frustrated when I got interrupted. This is day 4 writing on and off. And I’m cool with it 🙂 (20 min Paw Patrol episodes have been a Godsend).

This too shall pass. The days are long, the years are short. I am not perfect. I’m not trying to be. You may relate to all of this, you may relate to some, you may think this is totally off base. Take what you like and leave the rest.

Lots of love,

Dr. Kelly

Photo Credit: Mag Hood Photography