Last week I spoke in New Jersey about the importance of self-care during pregnancy and post-birth, but my conference highlight was visiting with three moms who’ve survived postpartum depression/anxiety/OCD who are trained to support other women going through it. There was a fourth mom there who offers support online but didn’t know any moms locally and these three embraced her like they would each other.
It reminded me again that we must be the ones to lead the charge to dispel society’s myths about motherhood and to ensure that all moms, whatever point of motherhood they’re at, get the emotional health care they deserve. We must challenge our own biases about anxiety and depression, and accept them as “health conditions” just like heart disease or diabetes. We must accept that self-care is self-preserving and that women who make their emotional health a priority have more not less to give. As Laura Nash said beautifully, “You can’t give away what you don’t have.”
So, we’ve decided to declare November “Self-Care Month” with the self-care contest/challenge running from Nov.14-18. We think this is the time when women need to be most reminded to keep their emotional pitchers full with all the season’s demands. Please get your friends, co-workers, moms, daughters, neighbors and all your female peeps to join us for fun and great giveaways.
Also special thanks to my friend Susan Ellis Murphy who mentors the SNJPC support moms and works tirelessly to ensure the health of SNJ moms.
It has taken many years to learn how to take care of me; always putting other’s first while I drained the energy out of myself. Learning self-care began while battling postpartum depression (PPD) and anxiety 21 years ago.
PPD was out of my control, but I could seek help from others. This was very difficult for someone who had never done it before. I gave my family and friends specific direction on how they could help me; i.e. I need an hour to myself, time to go for a walk, sit and talk with me, etc. On many occasions, I asked family and friends to watch my daughter while I attended doctor visits and counseling sessions.
Doctor visits were necessary and counseling sessions were invaluable; I learned tips on relieving anxiety and that my needs were important. I attended support groups for women with PPD. I limited my conversations to those that were good listeners and supportive. I stayed away from anxiety provoking situations.
I have learned that while self-care is important, sometimes you may need an extension of self-care. That’s when professional healthcare, professional counseling and support from others can help you to heal.
Linda Meyer is the Executive Director of Mother to Mother in St. Louis, MO. Mother to Mother provides free telephone support, group support and resources to women experiencing emotional difficulties during pregnancy and postpartum. www.mothertomothersupport.org
Mother to Mother will be participating in the St. Louis Walk for Mental Health on Saturday, August 20 www.thewalk.org