I’ve been toying with the idea of writing this post for a while, but I haven’t mustered the courage until now.
Day after day, week after week, I find myself in awe of my clients. I am astounded by their ability to be vulnerable, to open up themselves, and allow healing to occur.
It is for them that I write this post.
When people have asked me why I decided to work with postpartum, I often tell them that I am passionate about helping parents become better- better partners, better role models, better people. I want to help build happy, resilient families, I say.
I tell them that it is an area of great need within our communities and that too many people suffer in silence, believing they are the only ones.
And while all those reasons are true, I seldom reveal what really drives me- that I myself have struggled. That I myself have wrestled with depression and anxiety. That being a parent has scared the crap out of me more times than I can count.
Worrisome thoughts… check
Sleepless nights… check
Restlessness and agitation… check
Feelings of worthlessness… check
Thoughts of never being good enough… double, no, triple-check
There were times when I was a stay-at-home father, that I thought about giving up- that somehow my wife and daughter would be better off if I left.
I knew that these thoughts weren’t true, but they were very real at the time. I questioned my effectiveness as a father, as a husband, and as a man.
What hurt me the most is that I didn’t feel safe revealing these thoughts to anyone. I felt alone, isolated, and defeated.
I compared myself to others- at least how they appeared on the outside- and wondered why I couldn’t be more like them.
Why couldn’t I be happy? Why couldn’t I get my daughter to stop crying? Why couldn’t I do what so many other parents have done before me?
I didn’t even realize what was happening at first. I simply felt like a failure.
I don’t remember exactly what it was, but something my wife said caused me to take a step back. I looked at what I was going through as objectively as I could and realized that I was, in fact, depressed.
Turning to mindfulness at the time was the key for me. I was able to rebound from my depression, and the experience taught me so much more than I could have learned from books.
One positive thing that came out of my experience- a newfound appreciation and respect for my mom, who has always been there for me.
Who knew being a parent could be so tough? Why didn’t anyone try to warn me?
The truth is that we do know. We know that a significant number of men and women struggle with anxiety and depression after the birth of a child.
We also know that relationship satisfaction declines significantly in two thirds of couples in the first three years after a child is born.
The problem is that we just don’t talk about it. We don’t talk enough about how hard it can be to raise a child.
I want to change that. I want to have those difficult conversations.
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
That’s really why I do what I do and am so passionate about it.
I don’t want anyone to suffer in silence the way that I did- the way that so many other moms and dads have done and continue to do.
It’s not fair. It’s not right. And it needs to change.
Help is available, and healing is possible.
I also want to say thank you to my clients who continue to inspire and push me to grow.
Feel free to join the conversation online on my Facebook page.