Postpartum Panic Relapse: Why Falling Is Not Failing
Falling, Not Failing
Why Falling is not Failing
It is much easier to share about my journey through postpartum depression on the good days. On the other hand, it is terrifying to talk about it on the bad days. After having a good week, I'm convinced, "I have this thing beat." That is a lie. Then, after having a bad week I'm convinced, "I'll never have this thing beat." That is a lie, too. The truth is that journeys are full of ups and downs, twists and turns, high points and low points.
Just because you've come to a pit in the path doesn't mean the distance you've covered thus far doesn't count. Falling down is not failing. Feeling temporarily lost does not mean you are no longer headed in the right direction. Feeling hopeless does not mean all hope has been lost. Even if your "reality" is total darkness in the pit, remember that the sun is still shining up above.
"Falling down is not failing. Feeling temporarily lost does not mean you are no longer headed in the right direction. Feeling hopeless does not mean all hope has been lost."
The Tools I Used to Climb Out of the Pit
When I fell into the pit recently after having had a few good weeks, I was tempted to believe that my progress was a sham and that I had never been truly free. I could only see, hear, smell, and feel the oppressive darkness of the pit.
So how did I climb out? I utilized a few simple tools:
1. First, I grabbed the quickest tool I could access—deep breathing. I focused on getting oxygen to my brain so that I could calm down and think better. I didn't want to be stuck in fight, flight, or freeze mode.
2. Next, I used the tool of truth by reframing my perspective and focusing on what I knew instead of how I felt. I reminded myself that the pit was temporary and that I'd gotten out before and could get out again. I reminded myself that it only took a few steps for me to get into the pit and would only take a few steps to get out.
3. I took action. I got out of the pit. Even though I was pressured for time and under stress to complete a task, I stepped away for 20 minutes and told myself I'd figure out how to adjust my schedule and make up the lost time later. I knew the longer I stayed in the pit, the harder it would be and the longer it would take to get out.
4. I used the tool of support. I told my husband what was going on and told him exactly how he could help me (which actually meant telling him how NOT to "help" me!)
5. I used the tool of laughter. I called a friend that I know has a great sense of humor and wouldn't you know it, I ended up laughing! And pretty hard, too. It was great.
6. I used the tools of truth and support again. Again, I chose to listen to truth instead of relying on my feelings (which I knew would only feed and strengthen the lies). Even though I wanted to veg on the couch watching movies that night, I instead put myself in an environment with people that I knew would encourage me and gently speak the truth I needed to hear.
Before long, I was out of the pit and walking on the road to freedom once again. Will you join me on this journey? If I can do it, you can, too.
More About My PPD Journey
This article is part of a larger reflection of my experience with postpartum depression. The previous article in the series is: Stop, Drop, and Roll: A Strategy for Dealing With Postpartum Depression
The next article in the series is: Postpartum Depression Reflection: You Are Not Your Struggle