You do not feel like yourself. You wonder if this is what being a new mother feels like. You are worried all the time and find it’s hard to take a deep breath. You believe that if you tell anyone how you are feeling they will either dismiss it as normal or tell you that you should be happy because your baby is healthy and everything is fine. You are concerned that if they knew some of the thoughts you were having they would deem you an unfit mother.
So you don’t do anything.
Your symptoms are making you doubt yourself right now. Symptoms of depression and anxiety have a way of making you believe this is about who you are. It is not about who you are. It’s about having symptoms that are treatable. Find a safe place where you can talk about how you are feeling so you can find relief. Research has shown that the earlier you seek help for any postpartum-related anxiety or mood disorder, the sooner you will feel better and the smoother your recovery will be.
Therefore, if you have recently had a baby and do not like the way you are feeling, you should:
1) Believe yourself. No one is in a better position to assess how you are doing than you are. Trust your instincts. You do not need validation from anyone else. What you need is clarity, support, and possible treatment, depending on the symptoms you have.
2) Stop comparing yourself to others or to your own expectations of perfection. Right now. It does not matter how others are doing or what things look like from the outside. Everyone has her own struggle. Listen to your heart.
3) Talk to your partner. Even if you are worried that you will be misunderstood. Sit your partner down and find your bravest voice to express why you are worried about the way you feel right now. Your symptoms are real.
4) Quiet your inner critical voice. Rush to find some self-compassion exercises and listen carefully to the words. You are suffering right now. Be kind to yourself. Believe that help is available. Believe you are worthy of getting that help. Believe you will feel better.
5) Do not accept indifference. Do not stop until you are comfortable with the responses and the support you receive. There are many well-intentioned but misinformed friends, family members and healthcare providers. Be your own best advocate.