Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the mothers in your life. And if you are a mother, it can be a wonderful time to celebrate yourself. But Mother’s Day can also be a complicated holiday for many women, especially a new mom who may be suffering.
A new mom may feel like nothing she does is good enough. She may blame herself for everything— even those things that are outside of her control. She may experience intense feelings of anger or irritability. She may feel sad, overwhelmed, anxious, hopeless and worthless all the time. She might feel like her baby doesn’t love her or fears that she doesn’t love her baby. Maybe she shares these thoughts with loved ones. Maybe they dismiss her concerns and therefore, unintentionally dismiss her. Maybe she tells no one and feels more isolated and alone.
These women may or may not be aware that they are suffering from postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety. All she knows is that she is experiencing these feelings as self and not as symptoms of illness. As a result, she believes that there is something inherently wrong with her.
In the throes of postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, acting happy on Mother’s Day doesn’t always feel possible. It can even be painful. For this mom, the brunch reservation may not bring her joy when leaving the house is a struggle. The gifts may feel like a consolation prize after losing her old self to her new baby. The kind words from loved ones may be heard, but not believed.
For this mom, I know you are suffering, your pain is real and you’re not alone. Postpartum depression and anxiety isn’t what you expected, but here we are. Not every Mother’s Day will feel like this one. One day, you will find relief from your symptoms and feel joy again. Once you acknowledge what is going on, find a therapist who specializes in this area and start taking care of yourself, then you will be able to overcome and conquer.
If someone you love is suffering from postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety this is what you are up against:
- If you tell her that you love her… she won’t believe you.
- If you tell her that she’s a good mother… she will think you are just saying that to make her feel better.
- If you tell her not to worry… she’ll think you have no idea how bad she really feels.
- If you tell her that you will come and help her... she will feel guilty for not being able to do it on her own.
If you want to help her through this, here’s what to say:
Tell her that she will get through this, that you are there for her and in it together... she will feel less alone.
Tell her that you believe that she is in pain. And that you're sorry she is suffering, and how awful that must feel... she will feel understood.
Tell her that it’s okay to make mistakes and that you don't want or expect her to be perfect... she will stop feeling guilty.
Tell her that she can get better and that help is available (And then offer to come with her to her first session)... she will heal.
A new mom, who is struggling, needs to hear these words often, not just on Mother’s Day. To the community of mothers out there, I wish you a Mother’s Day that recognizes you, that nurtures you and that acknowledges all of your victories, no matter how large or small. You are enough.
For questions or to schedule a complimentary phone consultation, contact Jamie Kreiter, LCSW here.