In the discussions about PostPartum Depression, the focus is often on women and the struggles we face (go figure). Today, though, I’d like to focus on some people who are too often overlooked: men.
Recently, a friend of mine read one of my blog posts and related an experience he had with a friend who was dealing with PPD. The discussion was on Facebook and my mom commented with something I completely agree with: never underestimate the power of the love and support of a good man.
I was fortunate to have the support of several good men when I was fighting my own battle with PPD. First and foremost, my husband. He had to learn as much as I did, he had to pick up the slack when I couldn’t cope, he had to deal with my mood swings, he had to learn to deal and cope just as I did. He did so with an incredible amount of grace and strength. He was always there for me, always loved me, always supported me. He never blew me off or told me to just suck it up. He listened to me and heard me on a deeper level than just the words I was speaking, he heard what I meant.
I didn’t tell very many friends or family what I was going through because I was afraid that none of them would understand or that they would turn their backs on me or (in one specific case) use it against me in a fight or something. Of the few friends I did tell, one of my dearest friends is like a sister to me and she helped us watch Elizabeth the second time I was in the hospital. Naturally, her husband knew what was going on and he was nothing but supportive of me. He prayed for me and made sure we knew that he supported us through it all.
My dad was one of the only family members who knew at the time and he was also supportive; our family didn’t really know a lot about PPD at that point but he never let that stop him from just loving on me and making sure I knew he was there for me. He happily let us borrow my mom when we needed help with Elizabeth during hospitalizations.
The Elders/missionaries from church (we’re LDS) were incredibly supportive as well. They offered to come visit, give me a blessing, pray for me, help with the house, or do whatever we needed. Most of all though, they never once made me feel like my PPD was a sign of a lack of faith or need to pray more or a consequence of sin or any of the other lovely things that Christians too often insinuate and/or outright say when a woman is dealing with PPD. They were just there.
These men are far from the only examples I have of people who loved an supported me through my journey, but they are the men who first come to mind with regards to the particular topic of this post. See, you don’t have to be a woman to support someone through PPD, and you don’t have to be her husband or even family to love her and support her.
So to all the men out there who feel helpless and powerless, who feel like “There’s nothing I can offer/do to support the woman in my life who’s dealing with PPD”, please just toss that concept right out the window. You can be just as much of a help and support, your love and kindness can make just as much of a difference to her as that of the other women she knows.