Do you know a fellow mum who is suffering from Postnatal Depression and if so, do you know how to speak to her about it or if speaking to her is even the best or appropriate thing to do?
There are no other words for it but “totally shit” when a friend or family member gets diagnosed with PND and as friends we are left wondering what the best way forward is when it comes to talking about it with them. Should we shy away from the subject or confront it head on? When meeting up for coffee along with “Hey, how you doing? Love what you’ve done with your hair” Should we also be slipping in:
“How the hell are you doing and is that bastard PND still ruining your life?”
How do we make a question deemed too taboo, too intrusive, too painful and too personal, acceptable to ask?
Talking to a friend or loved one with Postnatal Depression or any form of depression opens up a host of emotions, unspoken questions and over politeness as you find yourself dancing around a whole host of suitable reactions and questions you want to ask but just don’t know how to. It leaves you running between wanting to help and show support to the fear you are being too intrusive and that your questions may catch them on a bad day and make them feel worse. In short a bloody mine field!
We love this person who is suffering and want to help them feel better. We have an overwhelming desire to help to fix them and ease their burdens but due to the cloak and dagger and secretive nature in which our society still treats all forms of depression we as friends are left in the dark. Postnatal Depression is for the majority something that happens behind closed doors and only revealed at its worse to the closest of partners. This in turn keeps it at the forefront of the sufferers life but miles apart from those who would love to help them through it but just don’t have the understanding or invitation to aide them to do so.
Postnatal Depression silences its victims and ironically makes them incredibly well adept at acting and looking incredibly sociable and “together” to the outside world. Anyone looking in would be forgiven for thinking nothing is wrong and at times stare in amazement at how well their friend has adapted to motherhood and is coping so well with it all. When we find out that in fact all is not well and that PND has paid them a visit we question how we never noticed and then question how on earth we should be helping them?
We are angry for them and want to get angry with them about it happening. We want to talk with indignation about the cheek it had picking them when all they wanted was to be a mum. We want to be able to laugh at the dark irony that depression has hit one of their most fun loving and out going mates and we want to hold their hand and go into battle with them vowing to face it down side by side and then throw a party when they have finally managed to give it the big “up yours”.
So how do we turn “How are you?” into an easier question to ask your loved one with PND?
Postnatal Depression is a lying and scheming little shit! Therefore it should be treated and spoken about as such. Cast your minds back over the years and the partners, now pick the most atrocious lying and cheating son of a bitch you have ever had the misfortune to cross paths with and apply the same level of conversation you had about him to PND. Oh yes ladies, PND is like the Arsehole ex who everyone hates and can’t wait to get rid of. Your friend has been stuck with him for a while and is now battling to kick him to the curb, however, he is of the persistent and thick skinned variety of arsehole so is doing all he can to stay in her life. Now, imagine the advice you would be giving your friend. Imagine the questions you would be asking her and the up front conversations you would be having as you both slag him off and make a plan of how to uproot him out of her life and give him one hell of a kick up the ass!
This is how we should be treating and talking about PND and the effect it is having on all the amazing women we know. It should be top of the agenda of our catch up coffees, girly get togethers and mother and baby groups. Right after, “fancy a glass of wine?” should come “how are you and how’s the PND?” It needs to become a normal part of the fabric of female conversation worldwide. It quite simply just needs to be spoken about more until it is no longer taboo. So victims of it and their friends alike feel they have the freedom to confront it head on, to speak about it and find out how they can help.
Likewise us victims of PND need to face the illness head on rather than hide away. We need to start talking about it no matter how awkward or uneasy the first time may be as this dialogue will eventually be one of the things that makes us feel better and will save us from suffering in silence.
It takes an extreme amount of courage to admit you have a mental illness and a hell of a lot of bravery as a friend of a sufferer to talk openly about it to them. As a sufferer of PND myself I can say that talking and writing about it has been one of the most terrifying and challenging things I have done. However, I know that it is essential to get past my discomfort, fear and any shame I feel about having this illness, in order to be able to move on from it and take a small step towards getting PND on the agenda of “normal” whether you be a victim or a friend of one.
Therefore, let’s all stop being scared of Postnatal Depression and instead start asking the once deemed “awkward” questions. It may just turnaround the bad week of a loved one, give a friend the power to get help and save a fellow mums life.
I am asking for your help and the help of Every Mum out there to spread the message that Every Mum Deserves the Right to Enjoy Motherhood! Therefore, I would LOVE you to come and join The Enjoy Mum Movement here and show your support by following the movement on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Love Liv xx
(Founder of The Every Mum Movement)