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postpartum depression

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#1 of 18 OFFLINE   Leila Dougan

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Posted October 01 2005 - 12:25 PM

Five months ago I gave birth to my beautiful baby girl. She's wonderful, doing just fine, and an absolute joy. But it seems, unfortunately, that I have developed postpartum depression. I'm under care of my OB, on medication, and will be seeing a counselor this coming week. So those details are already worked out; this post isn't about that.

I realize that most of you here are guys, which is what I'm after. Posted Image Essentially, my husband is having a hard time being supportive, having never been depressed before. I'm in search of advice for him, mainly. So let me ask you all. . .any of you guys have had the women in your lives fall victim to the evil postpartum depression monster?

My husband, being much like a lot of guys I know, is a problem solver. He wants to "fix" my problem and when he can't, he (I think) feels defeated and leaves me alone. And since he has no personal experience with depression, he doesn't have a clue on how to be supportive. I know, I know, I should be able to tell him what I need, but being depressed, I'm havinga really hard time gathering my thoughts. I've been having an extremely rough couple of days and today I couldn't get out of bed until 4pm. He walked in at one point, asked if there's anything he could do, and when I said no, he just left me there. I know I am no fun to be around, but I do need him around, and when I tell him that he's frustrated that he can't fix it so he leaves. He doesn't know what it's like when it takes all your energy to deal with the very bad thoughts.

He's a good husband and father, really, and I'm grateful for that. Truthfully, as bad as this sounds, I don't want to be around the baby at all but I grudgingly feed her (I'm breastfeeding) because she needs it. He's been taking care of her alone for the last two days because I am not able to do a good job. So I'm grateful that he can do that for me.

Now that I've written all this, I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for. I think mainly, I'm looking to see if any of you have been in his shoes. Or if you have a story to share, or just general support for me.

Thanks, I appreciate it.

#2 of 18 OFFLINE   Brandon_T



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Posted October 01 2005 - 01:35 PM

My absolute best goes out to you Leila. My wife was battling PPD for nearly a year before we realized it. It took horrific toll on our marriage, our son and so many other areas of our life we barely recovered. It is very hard for the guy to deal with and understand. It is also very dangerous if it goes untreated as I am sure you already know. Please just be honest with him. My wife made some very strange decisions that she would not have made normally, and it nearly cost us our marriage. She was diagnosed with it back in March and has been on medication ever since. She still battles depression from time to time but I think she is getting better and on the road to full recovery. If you are interested I might have her post here under my name about what she wishes I would have done differently to help her out. Then you could have your husband read because maybe she can now put into words what you can't. Its just a suggestion, but I am willing to try anything to help you out. Also, in my thread about PPD, you offered advice for me. Thank you.

#3 of 18 OFFLINE   willyTass


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Posted October 01 2005 - 04:28 PM

Sorry to hear your depressed. It's a big world wide club. Men use the English language in it's literal sense. When your husband asks you "Is there anything I can do for you" he means "Is there anything I can do for you". Unfortunately there is no hidden meaning in his question, nor is it an invitation to start a conversation. to paraphrase Al Pacino men "mean what they say and say what they mean". I f you haven't learnt by now men, at least those who lack experience, cannot pick up on hints. Most women will drop hints so obtuse not even Nostradamus will pick em up.You have to understand your husband is 1. By the sounds of it, inexperienced/ immature. 2. Not a woman. Therefore you can't expect him to know what you want or how you feel by powers of sheer clairvoyancy. Woman can sense these things most men cannot. Yes he's probably a "Mr Fix it" (like most men) when what you want is empathy. Unfortunately few men are born with the instinct of empathy , most acquire this only once they've been traumatised themselves. Virtually everyone who is unhappy has a gut feeling as to why. I've never met a woman who's never experienced depression.And usually the ones with the perpetual smile on their face it's a case of the wider the smile the deeper the wounds. The medical profession will argue that PPD is hormonal or that the cause is unknown.They maybe right. But there's always the possibility that it's a state of mind. If there are reasons why you are depressed, and you don't (or can't ) tell your husband he will never know. Jung argued that repressed memories would inevitably rear their ugly head in the form of physical disease or depression "but I don't know why". Ive seen women spend 30 years waiting for their husbands to understand what I need/ listen to me/etc. It's a long and bitter wait for a wife waiting for her husband to look like a man but think like a woman. If your husband can't empathise with you by now he's unlikely to ever do so. It's not his fault he just hasn't got the experience yet.

#4 of 18 OFFLINE   Gerald LaFrance

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Posted October 01 2005 - 06:54 PM

Hi Leila Did you check with the Dr. about taking medication and Breastfeeding I know with Certain Meds it is NOT reccomended??

In time with medication and counseling you should be able to get better, I suffer from depression myself and Take meds and I had counseling in the past now I am back to my OLD Errr NEW self.

I hope you get Better and God Bless!! Posted Image
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#5 of 18 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted October 01 2005 - 09:14 PM

Leila, first of all my sincere sympathies. It's damn-all consolation, I know, but youre is a surprisingly common problem. Also, it's categorically *not* something that you have created either deliberately or subconsciously. To use the old cliche, sometimes bad things happen to nice people, and regrettably PPD is one such example. I don't want to sound patronising, but the facts that you are taking the right practical steps and you clearly have a good insight into your situation are excellent signs. As regards your question, I think that what your husband possibly needs is a little reassurance that what's happening will produce results. As you've said yourself, if he's a guy with a problem-solving mind, not seeing immediate results is probably frustrating for him. I think the best idea is to mention the current state of affairs to your counsellor and see if he or she can arrange to have a couple of sessions with your husband, not to 'treat' him, but to explain the situation and discuss how he can help (your counsellor may suggest this anyway).

#6 of 18 OFFLINE   Fredster


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Posted October 01 2005 - 11:22 PM

The day after the birth of our second (boy), I had taken our first born (2 year old boy) to the pediatrician for his 2 year checkup. The doctor detected a slight heart murmur. Nothing unusual she said, such murmurs are common and completely harmless. She did caution me strongly that I should not tell my wife at this time with all of those "after giving birth" hormones flying around and such. Of course, being a big idiot guy and all, I delayed this (in my mind) trivial news until she came home with the new baby (a whole day later!). Nothing could have prepared me for her reaction. She collapsed on the floor crying and moaning, that she just knew he was going to die and how horrible this was. The crying and moaning went on for what seemed to be hours. I'd thought I knew her, but I'd never seen her like this before. Nothing I did would calm or console her. For days after, she continued to have the "blues". I don't think it would have been classified as depression, but it wasn't at all like the experience with our first child. My boys are now teens and it's been a pretty good life with kids (so far). It's great that you can discuss your situation so openly. From a "guy" perspective, I don't think we can ever understand womens emotions completely - we don't appear to be wired this way. And depression is another tough one. If you've never been depressed, it's pretty hard to imagine what that's like. I think you and your guy will be okay. You're making all of the right moves. Just let time sort it all out.

#7 of 18 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted October 02 2005 - 01:02 PM

Husbands and fathers have already offered their experiences. I am neither one of these things, but I had a female friend who suffered from depression and who was married to a man who was the problem solver type and ultimately not a sensitive person. When she told him about issues she had with certain parts of her body he essentially said, "There's always plastic surgery." I later met his sister and she was essentially the same way - apparently the ability to listen without offering advice was not practiced in the family Posted Image. I think your post indicated a big component of what you need from him - what all of us need when we are struggling - someone who will listen without judgment and be present in silence. People tend to have a problem viewing these things as "doing something" when they can be the most important things to offer someone in need.

That said, I do understand the instinct to "go away" when you feel powerless. I have that compulsion every time something happens in my family. But you just have to put it away and understand that the person who needs you needs you for a reason. Though the frustration and feelings of powerlessness will likely remain, being present during those times - even in silence - really isn't as useless as it may feel.

#8 of 18 OFFLINE   Chuck Mayer

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Posted October 03 2005 - 07:28 AM

Leila, My wife had PPD much earlier after birth (right away). She and I made it through; it was tough on both of us. Be honest with your husband. If you need him around...say so. It's not a personal choice to be depressed, it's a delicate chemical balance. Men (especially me) have trouble with this concept. Keep him informed, keep track of how the medicine is working for you, and keep the doctor informed. He might feel like you are making it harder for no reason. I simply think communication is key. The meds my wife got helped a lot. Keep in mind your baby probably has him exhausted. When I'm that tired, I am a powder keg unfortunately. So be as honest as possible with how and WHY you feel the way you do. He might see it as a judgement on him. It'll work itself out with proper attention and care. You are ahead of the curve. Good luck, Chuck
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#9 of 18 OFFLINE   BrianW



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Posted October 04 2005 - 04:19 AM

Leila, I'm just like your husband, unfortunately. However, to the extent that my wife has whacked me numerous times between the eyes with a 2x4, I entertain the fantasy that I may have actually obtained a clue or two. As such, I think it would help if you gave your husband the following instructions:

1. Tell him that being there and listening quietly is a major part of the solution to the problem. Let him know that even though he won't see results quickly, the solution depends heavily on his willingness to listen, and nothing more.

2. Tell him not to offer advice more than once a day, no matter how much you complain about something or talk his ear off. When he's given his advice for the day, thank him for it, and remind him that his advisory quota has been filled for the day. If he offers any more advice for that day, remind him that he's over quota, and that his advisory priveleges could be revoked. Don't you give in to the impulse to "let one slide" and fail to call him on it if he breaks this rule. By strictly enforcing this rule, no matter how cruel it seems you are being, you are giving your husband a quantifiable way to measure his effectiveness at being part of the solution, which is something his guy-brain desperately needs. ("Today she yelled at me only three times for going over quota, so I must be doing something right!" Posted Image)

3. Tell him that he is forbidden from asking you any questions that require a scalar answer. That is, no yes-or-no questions ("Do you want fries with that?"), no questions that have a finite number of definite responses ("Do you want pizza or hamburgers?"), no questions that require any kind of definite response ("What would you like to eat?"), and no questions that require a definite number as a response ("How many gallons of milk should I get?"). Open-ended questions like "How do you feel?" are allowed. This is actually more for his sake than for yours. You're not likely to be in a frame of mind to provide an answer that is actionable ("I don't know" isn't an actionable response, for all you women out there Posted Image), and such questions are asked in order to determine the next immediate course of action. If he doesn't ask, then he won't be frustrated. Likewise, if there's anything you want from him, no matter how trivial, you need to let him know. Again, enforce this rule with reminders every time he breaks it.

Finally, I have some advice for you, Leila: For your own sake, at the end of each day, tell your husband what a tremendous help he's been. And that you appreciate everything he's done for you. Let me explain that you won't be doing this to stroke his ego, or any of that lovey-dovey crap. As I said, you should be doing this for your own sake. Remember that in his guy-mind, he wants to express his love for you by solving your problems. If he goes too long without feeling like he's part of the solution, he will give up, and that won't do you any good at all. So even if you're convinced that he did absolutely everything in his power to ruin your life that day, you need to keep him on task and focused for tomorrow by pretending you appreciate it. Because if you think today was bad, tomorrow will be even worse if he doesn't feel like he's helping. So for your own sake, lie to him if you have to. If it helps you get the words out, think about how ths creep of a husband is such a complete moron that his pig-brain is incapable of discerning your blatant lie, and take pleasure in your manipulative deceit as you thank him for everything he's done that day. Sure it's manipulative, but it keeps him working as part of the solution, which is really what he would want anyway. He does love you, after all, and would even appreciate the expediency of your scheme, if he could only comprehend it. Hopefully, there will eventually be more and more times when you actually mean it when you thank him at the end of each day. Posted Image But in the mean time, lie to him through your teeth, however you can manage to do so. It's your life that will be better for it.

Leila, as was said earlier, you're way ahead of the curve, and you have every reason to hope for a full recovery. If you want, my wife will even lend you her 2x4.
Come, Rubidia. Let's blow this epoch.

#10 of 18 OFFLINE   Randy Tennison

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Posted October 04 2005 - 04:32 AM

Leila, You spoke so eloquently of your husband in your posting. Perhaps, write him letters, explaining what is going on in your head at that moment. Tell him how you truly feel about his help. It is often easier to write these things then to speak them, especially when dealing with the PPD. My wife and I went through a horrible time while going through the process to adopt our son. It took 2 years (only supposed to take 9 months), was filled with setback and disappointments. I was so mad and upset that I was not myself. We snipped at each other, and really had tough times. But then, I would read some of her journals that she was keeping for our son (she was documenting the process for him), and I realized that she did understand how I felt, and that she felt the same way. It really helped reading what we couldn't speak. Reading the letters will help cure the "I need to fix it right now", because there is a built in time delay between writing and reading. Just let him know that you do appreciate him, that you don't have a clue how to fix this, and you don't expect him to, but that, together, you will get through this, and not to give up or get frustrated. And tell him that you love him.
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#11 of 18 OFFLINE   MarkHastings


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Posted October 04 2005 - 09:48 AM

Leila, I can not speak about PPD but I can talk about dealing with depression. I've been on both sides and I can tell you, the one thing that helps depression is "understanding". The most difficult thing for someone to deal with, is not understanding why their loved one has depression. The most common thing to think is: "Stop being sad" - What they don't understand is, it's virtually impossible to do. The other thing that is tough is (as you've mentioned) the fact that they want to 'fix' your depression. I have a friend who tries to cure me every time I get depressed. It is extremely frustrating for me (and her as well) when she tries to "cheer me up". It actually can make the depression worse when they try to get you out of it. The best thing they can do is to understand what your going through...read as much as possible and talk about it with each other. The only way your husband is going to help is to understand that he can't do anything about it. That is SO key! He can't do anything about it (to fix it) but he CAN help. I can not tell you how much it helps when someone understands my depression. It less frustrating that way...it may not cheer me up, but it makes me feel better.

#12 of 18 OFFLINE   Joe Szott

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Posted October 05 2005 - 03:51 AM


First off, congratulations! This depression shall pass soon enough, but that new bundle of joy just gets better and better the rest of your life.

Second, I'm a man so I only know how to try and solve your problem Posted Image. I would suggest taking your whole family to the counseling sessions, or at least your husband. The counselor will not only help you understand your feelings, but can help him understand it as well. PPD is like your period to a guy, total mystery and non-understanding. This is something that affects everyone so everyone needs to be on the same page.

Do you guys have family in the area to help you out with the new baby? Sometimes that can make a big difference with getting a breather now and again.

Best wishes and hopes! Trust us, this PPD is just a blip on what might be the best thing to ever come into your life. You are blessed, don't doubt that for a minute.

#13 of 18 OFFLINE   Bob Turnbull

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Posted October 05 2005 - 05:18 AM

Particularly Tom Cruise...Posted Image

Best of luck Leila.

#14 of 18 OFFLINE   EugeneR


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Posted October 05 2005 - 05:49 AM

If your husband's the analytical type, getting him some literature on the causes and symptoms of depression may be very helpful. If he's able to intellectually absorb the fact that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, he may be more likely to view it as an "illness," like the flu or bronchitis. He then may be able to better cope with the frustration of not being able to "help" in the way he wants to, as opposed to helping in the way you need him to help, since he'll be able to see the depression as something that happened to you as opposed to feeling like it is something that you are choosing to do to yourself (and to him). Hang in there. As painful as PPD is, it is only temporary. Just keep telling that to yourself.

#15 of 18 OFFLINE   Leila Dougan

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Posted October 05 2005 - 05:35 PM

I want to thank each and every one of you for your responses. You've all really given me a lot to think about. I'm also sorry it's taken me a few days to respond.

A couple of things. . .

The studies done on PPD indicate that while hormones are a part of it, it's more because of a situational problem. It's also a chemical imblance, which can be induced by the situation. In my case, yes, I have a pretty good idea why I'm depressed. It's because I haven't gotten more than 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep in over a year, I'm dissapointed about the birth, I'm struggling with my milk supply, I've gone back to work, and am feeling guilty for doing so. Essentially, the lack of sleep has diminished my coping capacity so that I'm having a very difficult time finding a balance between my role as a mother, a wife, and an employee. I'm still adjusting to the fact that it takes me 2 hours to get out of the house every morning and then I come home to endless bottle-washing, laundry, cooking, yadda, yadda, yadda. I'm sure you all with kids know exactly what i'm talking about, but I haven't found a balance yet between all that and still reserving enough time to take care of myself. It just takes a toll on you, ya know?

My OB knows I'm breastfeeding and he's the one that gave me Paxil. It's perfectly safe to take while breastfeeding. If anything of you read about Paxil in the last few days, studies have shown some problems with it when taken during pregnancy. Since I didn't start until a few weeks ago, I'm alright.

Brian, I want to thank you, especially, for the great list of "rules". I think he'll find that helpful (even if he doesn't admit to it).

I think the "quota" idea for advice will work with him, and that will help him just listen to me without trying to solve something. That IS all I really need, and you've all summed it up so perfectly. He's gotten much better over the years, so there's still hope Posted Image

I will also try writing letters to him. Sometimes when my mouth has trouble articulating my feelings, my fingers are better able. It'll probably be on the computer, but I figure thats okay. . .it's just the geek in me coming out.

I think he DOES see it as a judgment against him, in a way. I think he seems my depression as a sign that he's not doing something right, that he's not being a good husband or something. He just has trouble understanding it's not about him. LOL

I think part of the problem is that his female translator program needs tuning. When I get depressed, I don't want to be around anyone or do anything, so I may tell him to go away. And he does! I need to tell him that when I say "go away" I really need him to "stay and listen". Not his fault, I know, since he can't possibly know what I mean. But I think that may be part of the problem.

Mark, I hate that "cheering up" thing too. As if it works. Sometimes he'll try that, but I'll just tell him point blank that it's not working and I don't need him to try. That usually works, for that time anyway.

Anyway, hopefully I'll be seeing a counselor soon. I called today to make an appointment but they'll be getting back with me in a few days. The weekend I was feeling awful, but Monday and Tuesday I was perfectly fine. Today was so-so. . we'll see what tomorrow brings. That's the crazy thing about this, my mood changes so frequently. . . my family probably thinks I'm a teenager again.

Maybe we need a few hours to ourselves, just to get a break. We have family who lives here in town, so I think on Saturday we'll leave the baby with my MIL and we'll go catch a movie (we're thinking of Serenity). I think a few hours may do us wonders, despite the fact that I know I'll be missing her like crazy.

Again, I want to thank all of you for the responses. I'll be sure to keep you guys update with how things are going.

PS - Brandon, I have no rememberence of your thread! Wow, guess I'll have to go back and read it and possibly take my own advice Posted Image

#16 of 18 OFFLINE   BrianW



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Posted October 06 2005 - 02:31 AM

Thanks for the update, Leila. Your feedback helps us to determine whether we're fixing your problem. Posted Image

I'm gratified that you appreciate my advice. Don't forget to thank your husband for his daily advice, too, even though, as I said, his male pig-brain can't comprehend that you're just trying to shut him up so he'll . . .

Hey, wait just a darn minute! I see what you're trying to do here!

Posted Image

Okay, that was just a blatant attempt to cheer you up, which I know was wrong. Sorry. I can't help it. Male pig-brain, you know.

Seriously, though, if you want my advice, my suggestion is to . . .

No, wait. That would put me over my quota.

Posted Image

Sorry -- male pig-brain.

The day is quickly coming when things will be much, much better. I know that on most days, knowing this will be no comfort at all, and reading it now may make you want to scream. But on one of your better days, which you seem to have had lately, it can mean a lot.
Come, Rubidia. Let's blow this epoch.

#17 of 18 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted October 06 2005 - 04:16 AM

I thought Brian's rules were very good too, but I thought I should let Leila make that call. Posted Image

#18 of 18 OFFLINE   MarkHastings


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Posted October 06 2005 - 05:56 AM

Again, that's probably the instinctive nature of the male...Men are bred to take care of the family. Women are the ones to give birth, which is a such a powerful thing to a male. Since we can't create life in that way, we take on more of a 'protective' role with the family. I guess that's the mans way of feeling he is doing his job (i.e. since the woman has already done the job of giving birth), so I can see how any failure (at first) would make him feel as if he is not doing his part. That must be extremely frustrating to him. Again, I wish you guys the best of luck!!! It sounds like you're on top of things and will get through it all. Oh, p.s. The other thing that helps, is to remember that a LOT of other people go through this. Knwoing that you're not alone, is a BIG help. Knowing many others have gone through it (and have come out fine) is the light at the end of the tunnel.

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