Depression in any way is horrible. Joy thief. It makes its way into your life and seems to suck the very essence of your being away from you until you no longer recognize yourself…and you no longer care to.

I think we all have dealt with depression in one way or another. It comes in so many forms after all. From chemical imbalances in your brain (that you absolutely cannot help) to seasonal depression or day to day sadness that if left alone, can lead to more darkness.

I know coming from experience I’ve dealt with the depression that seems to come and go, and can be remedied with forcing myself to take a shower, or make my child laugh, or talk to my husband about it.

But it seems like most of us also have close relatives or friends that deal with intense depression in different ways. It’s so sad to say it…but if it’s not you it’s almost always someone you know and love. I’m so glad in today’s world mental health is becoming more and more accepted as a real illness and taken seriously. Sometimes it’s not just something a shower will fix. It can be very serious and real help needs to be sought.

If you or someone you know is really struggling, please, please call 988, this is the new suicide and crisis lifeline phone number to talk to someone 24 hours a day, free. Or 911 as well for more dire circumstances.

Now for the Mamas…let’s talk about that postpartum depression. I was not prepared. But who is when depression hits? I know for me, I thought I might have missed it since my baby was older and I seemed fine for the most part during early newborn stages. As soon as my baby hit 5-6 months, I was not ok. I can only assume it was postpartum depression, I’d heard it can be delayed like that for some women.

I was crying all the time, sometimes over things that were really insignificant or weren’t even happening (example: my husband or baby’s death, my baby growing up so fast, me dying and my baby growing up without me, or even coming home from work and I was in traffic for too long and I missed seeing my baby while at work and he was already in bed). I was incredibly tired all the time, and would get frustrated at myself when I would get frustrated at my baby for needing me. For a 6 month old needing me?! That’s how horrible postpartum depression is. It puts horrible thoughts in your head, makes you feel hopeless because of them, and then you have to deal with it.

I feel like unfortunately most mamas have dealt with it in one way or another. Here are some ways that helped me to get through it and continue to get through it.

(These are just surface level suggestions to help cope. If these things don’t help in any way or you feel incredibly depressed, please contact your OBGYN. They have resources to help you, prescribe medications or can recommend therapists that specialize in postpartum depression)

1. Self Care

I know I mentioned it before, but taking a hot shower or bath, washing my hair, doing a face mask, shaving all the things is so nice and pampering. I don’t know about you, but I usually hate the maintenance days where all the things need to be done. I only wash my hair 1-3 times a week and shave just as often. But I know for certain if you are going through depression, these things have been skipped for a while. There’s no shame in it. It’s just you prioritizing more important things for survival like feeding your baby or yourself. But I’m here to tell you that you will feel like a new woman after taking care of yourself. Have your husband or your mom watch the kids for a long time and go relax mama.

2. Get out of the house!

If you don’t feel up for getting out of pajamas or walking around stores, then go for a drive. Roll those windows down and crank up the music. This is a good one because you can go with or without your family.

But I would suggest if your partner is able or a family member is free to watch the kiddos, go and enjoy your peace. I’m not saying you don’t enjoy having your babies around, NOT AT ALL! But I do know you CANNOT fill from an empty cup. You cannot give your family 100%. I know we all want to, but it’s just not possible. Depression or not. You can give your babies 99%, but you have to keep that 1% for yourself.

3. Take yourself on dates, mama.

That kind of goes with my next idea. Get ready for the day (I promise it’ll make you feel so much better), go to Target or the mall or thrifting, whatever places are your favorite. Take yourself for a pedicure or get your nails done. Make that appointment to get your hair fixed or cut. Get your lashes done. Get a MASSAGE! How nice does that sound?? Go get coffee. Go do your hobbies whatever they may be. But you gotta prioritize you sometimes, regularly.

You begin to lose yourself when you don’t recognize yourself. And no one said when you become a mom that you need to lose yourself to become a good mom. Literally no one has ever said that and if they did, they’re very wrong.

4. Get back into exercising!

I’m preaching to the choir here. I need to get back at it. I lied to myself when we got a home gym I would workout all the time. That’s a big fat nope. Even if it’s walks around the neighborhood, or pilates at home using Youtube. Moving your body can be great for your mental health. I know because every time I’ve been consistently working out, my mental health has always been infinitely better. I would have more energy too. Funny how that works. I know it’s hard to want to get up and move, believe me I know. But sometimes to save yourself, you have to.

5. If you’re in a relationship, please go on dates.

Your spouse or partner needs to work with you to make that happen. It’s vital to your relationship to continue dating after you’ve been together for a while or have kids. Get a trusted adult to watch your babies and go out on the town and enjoy each other. Talk deeply about what you have been feeling. Ask how they are doing (they’re dealing with parenthood or work stress too, even if it looks different from your version). Take time to reminisce, laugh, hug or kiss and talk about the future. It can be insanely refreshing to take time to yourselves as big adults without the kiddos and enjoy dates like you used to.

6. Resume your traditions

Get back into worship. I understand if this one isn’t for you, and that’s ok. But some people go to church regularly and it can be really hard to stop going for a while after having a new baby. I know we haven’t gone consistently and I can tell my mental health isn’t great when I’m not around fellow Christians. Church for me is so welcoming and judgment free, so it’s difficult when we don’t go because we’re tired or don’t know what to do with a crying baby during the service. Sometimes you just need to go and if you’re in the right church, they’ll understand the crying baby.

7. Clean and declutter your home!

I’m so grateful my husband has the same mindset as me when it comes to a dirty home, and he has no problem helping me, which in turn helps my mental health. I become infinitely more depressed when my home is a disaster. Start small, do one area or room at a time if you need. Start with putting the baby toys away, you don’t need toys everywhere taking over your home all the time. Start a load of laundry. Whatever you’re able to do. It’s ok if it takes a while. Play some music and dance with your baby while you pick up some things. It doesn’t have to be a lot or deep cleaning by any means. Just something to help you regain your sanity and feeling of control.

I hope some of these helped. I’m so sorry if you’re going through any kind of depression, mamas or anyone who reads this. It is a horrible thing to go through. Know that you’re not alone, and I’m here to offer friendship and prayers if you ever need or want!

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