5 important things I learned from having postpartum depression

Depression is like a beast living inside your mind. Here are five things I learned from dealing with that beast.

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  • After I stopped breastfeeding my son, I started to feel sad and down pretty much all the time. I remember telling my husband I felt like God, my family, and the world hated me. I told him I felt like I was not a good mom and that my son deserved better. No matter what he said to comfort me, I still went on feeling that way.

  • The next few months were dark dark days. I had never had depression before and I didn't realize exactly what was happening until we got a first big snow. I looked out the window and was sad. That's when the light bulb moment happened …

  • All my life I have LOVED snow! I look forward to it each year. I love it so much I even wanted to move to Alaska. So when I noticed that even the sight of snow still wasn't making me happy, I realized that I was depressed.

  • It's a tough thing dealing with depression and my family (all who have never experienced it before) didn't know what to do or say. My little sister, bless her heart, tried motivating me but the conversations usually ended up with me crying or angrily hanging up on her. My husband felt like he had lost his wife and I felt hopeless. The only thing that made me happy was my son. Yet, when he would cry a lot (because of teething) or when he was sick, etc., I felt even more down.

  • Depression is like a big black hole of nothingness. It's like a beast that lives inside your mind and you can't tame or control it. It's almost impossible to continue functioning. Many people have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. I struggled with getting through each day. I was often just going through the motions of life, not really feeling a whole lot, except down.

  • I believe that the reversal of my depression was due to multiple factors. Having come out of the Postpartum Depression, I looked forward to life again. I felt like I had my body and my life back. I was no longer living in despair and feeling hopeless.

  • This experience taught me so much and I wanted to share what I learned with you.

  • Below are 5 things I learned from having depression. I also added a few things I did to feel a 'little' better despite being depressed

  • 1. Don't ever judge another (especially if they have depression)

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  • Unless you have been there before, you can't know what it feels like. You just don't know.

  • 2. Some of the worst things you can say to someone who is depressed are

  • Snap out of it; I'm worried about you; You are sick; You aren't yourself anymore; You need more sunshine; You need to exercise more; You need to be grateful for what you have; You need to have more faith; You need to … Curing depression is just not something that a depressed person can do that easily (if at all).

  • 3. Depression takes time to diagnose and to treat

  • When you go to the doctor with an ear infection they prescribe antibiotics, you take them, your ear infection goes away, and you are done with it.

  • With depression it is much different. First, they want to do tests which take time. Then they aren't sure what kind of medication to start you with so you become an experiment of sorts. Ultimately, it's not a perfect science but the one thing you can count on, is that finding something that works takes time (usually a whole lot of it).

  • 4. What works for one, may not work for another

  • I talked to a few other women who struggled with PPD and they told me what seemed to work for them. I tried everything they all mentioned. Some helped and some made me worse. We all have different bodies, chemical make ups, and hormones so be careful when trying things that helped someone else. Know that what works for them may not work for you and visa versa.

  • 5. The best things you can do and say when someone has depression are

  • I'm so sorry, I'm not sure what you are going through but I am sorry you have to go through it; You are a very strong person, I admire you being able to get out of bed, hold down a job, or smile (really just tell them its amazing that they are doing things that are difficult for someone with depression to accomplish); I have time on Tuesdays, would you like for me to come over and help you clean, cook, or just hangout? (if they say no, ask again another time, be genuine and offer again if you think they are declining because they don't want to inconvenience you); I'm happy to take your kids during such and such time each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; You are amazing; I'm sorry you are feeling this way; I hate that you have to go through this; I'm here for you, really, if you ever need to talk; etc.

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  • What helped me while I was depressed may not help you or someone you know, perhaps it will though so I'll mention the few things that did help me.

  • 1. Having a break from mothering

  • I love my son (and he actually was the only thing bringing me joy during this time) but having a weekend off when my husband would take him out on a road trip was a major help.

  • 2. Getting out into the sunshine or if its rainy, dark, or winter, try a Vitamin D spray.

  • 3. Talking to friends about it

  • 4. Crying it out

  • 5. When my husband was ultra supportive and super kind

  • 6. A good nights sleep

  • Sometimes I couldn't sleep at which time I'd take melatonin and it helped.

  • 7. Working on my blog

  • I started my blog before I got depressed and working on it shifted my focus and really helped me get through this tough time.

  • 8. Prayer

  • Prayer helped me immensely because God understands what we are going through and can comfort us. If you aren't religious, try meditation that may help as well.

  • 9. Finally, my mom did a lot of research on this while I was struggling and told me to bathe in Epsom salts to get more magnesium in my body.

  • I only did this twice before I started coming out of it. It did seem to make me feel better, but because I was coming out of the depression I'm not sure if it helped significantly or not.

  • 10. Saliva samples

  • Had I not gotten over it when I did, the next step was to take a saliva sample and have it diagnosed. Saliva (through research that I did) shows imbalances better than the blood does, therefore it is easier for doctors to correct the imbalances.

  • Even though I was truly depressed, I noticed that doing/using the aforementioned things did help me feel a little better. Although I'm not sure why I got better, I just want to tell those who are struggling with depression or know someone who is, that finding a solution is often a delicate matter. Suggesting that someone with depression do X, Y, or Z to feel better will often make them feel worse. It needs to be suggested when they are in a good place and it needs to come out of love.

  • Often research and other sound findings convinced me to give certain things a try. And luckily, I wasn't so deep that I gave up on getting better. Sometimes people do get that deep though and as hard as it is, loved ones just need to be patient.

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  • My hope in writing this is that there are a few things that I learned or that helped me which will be useful to others who are suffering from depression.

  • Editor's note: This article was originally written on Live Like You Are Rich. It has been modified and republished here with permission.

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Anita is a resourceful wife, mother, author, and friend. She writes about a variety of ways to create a rich life (both materially and non-materially) on any income on her blog Live Like You Are Rich. She is also the co-author of "Living a Rich Life as a Stay-at-Home Mom."

Website: http://livelikeyouarerich.com

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