Mother’s Mental Health #3
Mother’s mental health should be the collective responsibility of the society. Is there sufficient awareness about the things that could go wrong? Is the state working in symbiosis with its different sections in the society . One of the important component of the society being the womenfolk and their mental health. The mother as an entity is the one who is most prone to mental illnesses and fatigue and not to forget how she can influence the family that she caters to. I remember having two home visits by the health nurse of the Victorian Health Council, Australia, starting from the next day of my arrival after the child birth. I do remember being at wits end for the house was a mess as I was simply unable to do anything but stay in my room what with the severe stitches and other complications. The poor dh could do only so much.. When the Nurse finally arrived right on time the next day when it was all of 9 in the morning with a sharp knock on the door. I was really nervous as I naively thought that she could report me for being an incompetent mum as the mess in the house was quiet evident and as I went on to explain apologetically why my room was not spotlessly clean. It was then that the nurse smiled and told me ,
” You can relax, because I am not here to judge you. I am sure you are doing fine as a mum.”
A few further things which a health nurse always practices on home visits are obviously
- the health developments of the new baby.
- baby’s sleeping arrangements
- physical health of the mother following the child birth
- the mothers mental health
- queries on whether one has a social support group
- if family has a earning member
- steps to resolve the above or any other issues that might affect the family
Her kindness was further touching when she told us what a gorgeous family we had. I don’t know how much of it she meant it but I know that kind words always help yoyu relax and feel accepted. How many times we proudly proclaim that we are there to help someone if they are suffering from depression. We readily put up a message on our facebook wall in support of those suffering from depression but after that how many messages in the inbox do those ‘facebook’ supporters of depression actually receive? Maybe Zero, sometimes. What about a general sense of empathy and kindness towards those who are showing a happy face and are not so vocal about their state of mind. Well everybody is fighting their own silent battles, how about a little kind words to everyone that we come across irrespective of their race, religion, social status . I also hope that some of us are not contributing to unhappiness in the lives of many by presenting false images of our ‘blissful lives’. Today research is telling that Facebook sometimes is a major contributor of spreading discontent among people. Life is certainly not a competition of best profile pictures and a display of lavish celebrations. Inner happiness can not always be depicted in images but is something to be felt.
Coming back to the discussion of the mother, later on I remember on one of my visits to the healthcare nurse I was provided with a quiz, the score of which would decide if I needed a further referral to a Mental Health Doctor or Nurse. Incidentally I was a little below the essential score. However I had a friend who was diagnosed with a Postpartum Depression. From what I learnt , PPD usually occurs due to hormonal changes, genetics and often some major life changes. These come with their own baggage, the symptoms of which are as follows
- lack of interest in most things in life
- emotional outbursts/ crying
- disruption in sleep and eating habits
- low self-esteem
- feeling of inadequacy and so on
Just as when one’s physical well-being is affected and it brings halt to our day to day life activities, similarly even mental illnesses can bring your life to a standstill. These are often caused due to varying factors. Hence it is always a good idea to share it with someone you trust and immediately go for counselling. As for me I have experienced my times of lows as well in my journey of motherhood . However a little thing which can lead to huge stress in the life of us mothers is ‘EXPECTATIONS’. It is important that we learn to ‘let go ‘ of small worries and high expectations of ourselves.
It is not important to explain to anyone why your house is a mess, why the dishes are still in the sink, why your clothes are still in the laundry bag. The task you are doing everyday of your life is laudable and surely you are doing something right , the smiles on your kids faces should be enough to tell you that. We are not conditioned to be perfect. The quest for perfection can be a harrowing experience and is headed to disappoint. Further I am a believer of ‘Messy Home, Happy Hearts’. Well that would be too far fetched but I do tell myself that this will not last forever and one day our little ones will outgrow their stay , Besides giving our self a little time always works, whatever may be the problem, we always come around. From time to time a little break or a vacation to a desired place never hurt anyone. Although as they say with children you can never really have a vacation but that is another story!
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PPD can be very hard, especially if you already struggle with depression.
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