Written by Deborah Gleeson, PND Survivor
Leaving the safety of hospital or a Mother and Baby Unit and returning to the place where life was difficult can be very stressful. The hospital staff will work with you during your hospital stay to link you up with community support services. PANDA can also provide you with telephone support and assistance to build a local support network.
Here are some additional strategies that can help make the transition period easier:
1. Accept that recovery takes time
Like convalescing from any major physical illness, it can take months or even years to recover fully from depression. Expecting too much of yourself too soon will increase your anxiety. Scale down your activities at first and resume them gradually as you feel able to. Try not to attempt to do things before you are ready, just because you think you should be able to.
2. Let the housework go for a while
Stick to the basics initially. Employing a cleaner maybe once a fortnight for a few months or enlisting family and friends can be very important. Remember that even if the house is messy or dirty it will eventually be clean again.
3. Ask for help when you need it
Most people will be glad to help. If people offer to help you be clear about what you need. Preparing meals, hanging out the washing, babysitting and shopping are some of the things others may easily do for you. Explain that you need ongoing support for some time and that you may need it at some times and not others.
4. Make some changes to your family's routine to accommodate your needs
Often relatively small changes can make it easier to cope. For example the hours from 5-7pm in the evening can be the most difficult with a crying baby and cranky toddler to feed and bathe, perhaps you partner can alter his work hours in order to be home at the time. If not ask a friend or family member to come over for an hour or two. Knowing that you have some support in the evening can make the day easier to cope with.
5. Surround yourself with people who understand how you feel
Have a list of people you can call or visit if you need to talk. Join a support group or talk to someone who has suffered from depression and recovered. PANDA's Telephone Support Workers can provide a listening ear and some support on a bad day or whenever you need to talk. PANDA can also help you locate a support group in your area.
6. Make some time just for yourself everyday
We all need it, especially when we feel overwhelmed by the demands of babies and young children. Ask your partner or a friend to mind the baby while you take half an hour to listen to a relaxation tape, go for a walk or read a book. Make this time a priority over the housework and the endless list of things that need to be done. I still do this now that I'm well.
7. Make a crisis card
This is a list of things to do and people to call if you find yourself needing help, such as a crisis card. It may have details of people or services to call, such as ring PANDA or the Mother and Baby Unit, or call family members to come. Knowing that you have a list of things to do in an emergency can be reassuring.
As you leave hospital, remember that the road to recovery is rarely smooth. There will be times when you think you are not making progress. Most women recover from PND, although sometimes it takes longer that we expect. With support and time, you will soon be enjoying your baby and your life again.