Postpartum Depression Recovery: Only You Know What Will Work Best

Moms know best what they need to get well and to feel like themselves again after postpartum depression. And, I don’t actually mean moms in general, but each one of you. Individually. When it comes to what you need to feel well: You. Know. Best.

You know better what you need to feel well than all the postpartum depression books out there. You know better than all of your well-intentioned friends and family. You know better than your husband or partner. You even know better than your neighbor or the lady behind you in the check out line. You. Know. Best.

All of this isn’t to say that you should know what all of your options for recovery are already. This is where skilled and trained professionals come in who can guide you on what you might want to consider, what research tells us, and what has worked for others in your shoes. But I’ll tell you something, even those of us who are “experts” in the field of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression don’t know ahead of time what the best options might be for each individual mama. You, my friends, are the experts in You.

I write this today because I have had moms sit in my office over and over who “should” themselves into a corner. “My own Mom says that I should just stay inside and rest, but that makes me feel depressed and all that I want to do is be outside,” says one. “My husband says that I should just quit breastfeeding, but those are actually the only moments that I feel grounded and connected to my baby,” says another. “My neighbor says that I should not give my baby formula and that ‘breast is best’, but this nursing thing makes me feel trapped and overwhelmed,” says the next mama. “Everyone keeps telling me that I should eat three meals each day, but I just can’t make that work and find it easier to eat little snacks all day long,” says that one after her. “The book that I am reading says that I should wear my baby all the time, but I just want a break!” says the one after that. “And then this other book that I am reading tells me that I should just let my baby cry, but I get so overwhelmed and anxious,” she goes on to say. “I feel like I can’t take medication for my depression and anxiety because society says that’s a cop out,” so many voices say, “but I am suffering and I have tried everything else already.”

You see? Everyone out there will have advice on what is best for moms in general. Everyone will shout loud and clear about what works for them, and expect that the same thing should be appropriate for others. There will always be advice and it often contradicts what you have heard only moments before.

When a mom is depressed or anxious she often feels that she has lost herself, that she no longer knows what is best for her, that she can’t make decisions, and that everyone else has the answers before she does. I dare to differ. While I know that it feels this way and that symptoms of depression and anxiety can pile up on top of your clearest sense of self and get in the way of your expertise of You, underneath it all you know more than anyone else what will allow you to feel whole again. Many of us out there are here to help guide you along that path, to work with you to answer your own questions, to educate you on what we know about treatment options and the pros and cons of each of those. There are many of us here to partner with you as you dig underneath the symptoms to regain that clear sense of yourself. And, at the same time, you are allowed to choose what resonates and what does not; what feels best and what does not. You get to choose.

Because you know best.

Kate Kripke, LCSW