Postpartum depression is one of those things you just don’t forget. My youngest son will be 10-years-old this year, but I remember going through postpartum depression so vividly. I was a Pittsburgher living in Brooklyn. While the city was always on and full of people I felt so lonely and tiny in my small Bed-Stuy apartment.
Everyday that I had to spend in those four walls seemingly cornered by these two screaming little giants was overwhelming. I’d yell at them for small things, cry when they cried and sometimes have full on adult tantrums screaming about how unfair it was that my husband got to go to work and I was forced to stay home and take care of everyone. And, my anger wasn’t just confined to my children. My husband probably got the worst of it. When he came home, I’d give him the silent treatment just to let him know how much of a privilege I thought it was that he could leave the house everyday.
It took me awhile to admit that I was suffering from postpartum depression. I’d given birth to two babies back-to-back. They were not even 12 months apart. My hormones made me feel like I was nuts and my mind would loop in this constant circle of diapers and disgust, diapers and disgust and so on and so on. It was one of my neighbors who first mentioned to me that I was going through postpartum depression.
She’d come down to my apartment one morning to ask if we could go to the park together with the kids and heard me having one of my fits. She later told me that she’d stood by the door and heard the entire thing. The next day, as we sat on the park bench, she said,
“I know we are both going through it with these toddlers, but I think you may be going through something else”. My first thought was that she was being nosy and should mind her own business, but her words kept coming back to me.
While I didn’t go and find a therapist, I did acknowledge that I had a problem. I began to recognize my behaviors more than before and got a notebook to begin planning my way out of postpartum depression. Here are are some of the things that I did to overcome my depression, and you can do them too.
Find Your Tribe
I got on the Internet and went to work looking for “groups for Black moms in Brooklyn”. I ended up finding Mocha Moms, Inc. It was a blessing. I made a friend for life and found other women in my neighborhood who were going through the same thing. Five years later, I was inspired to create my own organization that supports Black moms, Brown Mamas, Inc. Bottomline sis, you need friends. One of the reasons Black moms are twice as likely to experience postpartum depression is that we don’t have the social institutions that other women have in their communities. In Pittsburgh, it’s nothing to see white moms having playdates and going to music classes with their toddlers. For Black moms, this is often out of reach economically. If you are even considering being a Black stay-at-home mom for awhile you need to find your people. Sometimes, we’ve even got to create our own sis. Click here to see how to start a Brown Mamas chapter in your city, community or neighborhood.
Check out this ultimate list of support groups for Black moms.
Take a F*cking Break
For real sis! Drop those kids off and go somewhere. Drop them off with your daddy, your mom, your cousin, your auntie. There’s gotta be somebody. In Pittsburgh, a local non-profit daycare called Jeremiah’s Place will take your children for a few hours if you are feeling overwhelmed or really need a break. Reach out to them or search for emergency childcare or crisis nurseries in your city. Reality is, it’s better that you take a break then to do something you will regret. Your emotions are real and deserve to be recognized. Be honest with yourself and the people around you about the way you are feeling and take the time you need.
Get a Therapist, Yup, I Said It
Therapy is not a cuss word sis. Especially when you are going through postpartum depression. Did you know there is a science to this thing. Your brain is responding to the new stress of having a newborn, the physical pain of labor and delivery and, often, the lack of sleep you are getting as a result of your new lifestyle. This postpartum depression thing is real. Especially for Black moms who are more likely to be simultaneously experiencing economic and social strain from the jump. I have had a consistent therapist for the last 6 years and it has been such a godsend. I can tell her things that I don’t tell others and she gives me honest feedback from a third-eye perspective. Most therapist accept all insurances and many are willing to work with you on a sliding scale fee if they don’t accept your insurance. Going to a shrink does not make you crazy, take it from this bougie, round-the-way chick.
Redefine Self-Care For YOU
This one is E’RYTHANG! Once I found my tribe it became very apparent to me that the things they did for fun were very different from the things I was expecting to do to ‘let my hair down’. I still wanted to go to nightclubs and get my nails done and prance around at the mall. (I was only 28!) But, I quickly learned that while life will give you those opportunities sometimes, you also have have to do some self-care tweaking after you have kids. By this time I had 3 sons and going to the club would leave me exhausted the next day with kids who woke up at 6 am no matter what. In order to get out out of my postpartum depression I had to learn to enjoy some of the activities I could engage in a little closer to home. Instead of going to a nightclub, I learned how to enjoy riding in the car with the windows down and listening to Beyonce. I could do that any day of the week, anytime I wanted and get an instant pick-me-up. I learned to enjoy hiking and nature walks with the boys. I learned to love eating and binge watching Netflix. I had to redefine self-care to fit into the new lifestyle that I chose.
Here’s what’s real sis, you’re life is not going to be the same. You’ve got to grow with your kid instead of trying to fight the fact that you have them now. That means getting honest with yourself, getting help when you need it and learning how to live and thrive in your new life. Trust me sis. You can do this!