Is all the pain and suffering that is ppd making you feel absolutely worthless?
Please, whatever you do, please please please believe me when I say it’s not your fault. It’s not you, it’s the PPDemons.
Your system has been hijacked by powerful demons that are wreaking havoc with everything inside, and this spills over to create a mess on the outside. This sucks even more because now you feel so guilty, and voila!, more pain and suffering. Nasty vicious circle.
While much pain is unavoidable during early motherhood, so much of the suffering can be alleviated by dissolving the guilt. Yes, guilt-free mothering is indeed an option, even if it’s impossible to imagine right about now. That is where the leap of faith comes in. If you feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, please imagine a match striking and a small flame beginning to shine. Use this light to imagine how your life will be when you do get better. What will it look like when the amazing mother inside you is free of the heavy burden of guilt and shame? The first thing you need to do in order to get there is believe that it’s possible. And if you can’t quite believe that, just pretend. That’s good enough.
I’m working on developing a home-study program (Homework? The good kind. The kind kind!) that will teach women step by step how to melt guilt away. Here’s the idea: you are the sun, and your guilt is a chunk of ice. Not an ice-cube. More like a boulder, or a glacier. Something too large to lift, or bust, or smash into smithereens. Violence is tempting here, but it doesn’t work. The only way to overcome a glacier is to melt it away, so the freezing chill is gone and all that remains is pure, sustaining water. Nice metaphor, right? Well, if it worked for me, it might just work for you too.
To be the sun, so you have endless amounts of light and warmth to shine onto your solar system, you’ve got to turn off some stuff, and turn on some other stuff. This requires allowing for some subtle yet mighty mindset adjustments. The most important shift is from fighting the depression (beating yourself up never made anybody get better) to working with it, so you can gently and effectively disarm it.
The depression doesn’t just spring out of some deep flaw in your character; it results from the acute stress that is new motherhood, and the gaping holes of unmet needs that come with the territory. You are super-vulnerable at this stage, and the demons pounce and takes over. Another important shift is accepting that the demons are not entirely out to get you. Much of the urgency that moves them comes from a desire to protect their host (that would be you). They send you warnings and messages in the form of torture (most demons hiss and roar, they don’t know how to communicate gently).
Ignoring them–pretending there is no struggle–only makes the demons more ferocious. Tuning in and listening helps. This is really hard to do in the beginning. Hard and scary. But when you do it with the right attitude, and the right support, it becomes easier.
What else helps? Learning to understand your internal language so you can recognize which needs are desperately calling for action. Meeting those needs as best you can under your particular set of circumstances. Even grieving without guilt when meeting the needs is impossible.
Doing this effectively requires practicing new emotional skills. This is the kind of emotional workout that rewrites mental patterns and will allow you to feel better and be more true to yourself for the rest of your life.
I wish I could put a download button here right now so you could start working on this stuff tonight while you tidy up the kitchen. This kind of workout does not require going to the gym, it doesn’t even ask you to stop attending to the house or the kids. You can do this work in the comfort of your own mind while your hands are busy with everything else you need to take care of. (That’s what my mind works on when I’m washing the dishes after dinner.)
But the home study isn’t ready yet. In fact, it’s in the early stages (more about it in the About page, where else?). I’ve got all the ideas and the methods in my head, and in notes, and in my head… but with two little kids, it’s a slow go. Still, I’m making steady progress, and I will make this program available as soon as I can.
You can help me make it faster and better by commenting below, by telling me what hurts you the most, and what helps you find comfort.
If you would like a note from me to show up in your inbox when this stuff is ready, please sign up to my mailing list and you’ll also receive the PPD Love Letter, a free monthly dose of the ideas I’m talking about here. I will never EVER share your contact information. Your privacy is safe here.
Prefer email? ppdtojoy (at) gmail (dot) com