Hi mamas -
I've got a few things I want to say to mamas that know what it’s like to have something other than an over-the-moon pregnancy or postpartum time. You may or may not know that our community has an organization dedicated to providing understanding support for those impacted by pregnancy and postpartum stress.
Chances are, even if you know about the support, you’re not getting it.
With summer schedules, I've been filling in for WellMama volunteers more often lately on the warm line and in support groups. That means I've gotten to talk with more families and hear their feedback. What I hear and see a lot is that WellMama's groups aren't as well attended as folks hope when they push themselves and go. If you pull yourself out to a group and find you're only one of a couple of folks, it's discouraging. Plus, it's hard to get out the door if you're dealing with depression or anxiety - or both. Add a baby, maybe older kids to boot? Pshhhh. Good luck!
But here's the thing I want to reach out with from that personal place. I don't think it's the greatest trait I have, but I think it’s really common - when it comes to doing something "for myself," those are the things that I scratch off the list before anything else. I have to really make an effort to go against that instinct. So groups? I don't have time for that, that sounds like self-care stuff and I have these screaming kids and this work to get done.
But the thing is, when I think about it in terms of showing up for someone else's sake - well, then I can find the motivation. Like I said, not the greatest trait - but there it is. And once I get there and show up for someone else, we all benefit. When I feel my ugly - and it was ugly - experience is bringing some relief to someone else, I experience healing and gratitude.
Saying "I'll come for your sake" is a little mind trick we can all do to get ourselves out the door - and it really will be for their sake, but it will bring us huge relief as well.
So here's my personal appeal to you - every week, almost every day, we hear from new moms who are struggling right now - at this moment. Play that mind trick on yourself - consider upping the ante and getting to more groups "for them." For her, for the one very real mama with very real angst and guilt who needs to her about your very real experience to know she's not alone and she's not crazy (or that maybe we're all a little crazy, but at least we're in it together!)
As a fellow mom who struggled much too long and much too alone, as a WellMama peer support volunteer, and as a staff member who literally lays awake at night trying to figure out how to make this service reach more lives and reach them better - I invite you to play along with this mind trick.
I feel pretty sure you'll find the experience will be worth the inconvenience.
And if you feel like you're a "veteran" of pregnancy/postpartum depression and/or anxiety and want to become a WellMama volunteer to be part of supporting moms on a regular basis, let me know. It takes about 2-5 hours of your time every month and it’s an act of empowerment & love.
With warmth and love,