December 15, 2015
Mom for the Holidays by Lauren Hale
From the Postpartum Support International Blog
Jingle bells, jingle bells, mama had a baby. Now she’s sad but she must look glad, oh my will she ever survive?
Oh, the holidays. The holidays when we are supposed to be so happy, festive, and joyous even when we do not feel up to the task at hand. Sound familiar, my fellow Perinatal Mental Health mamas? I don’t know about you, but I dreaded the holidays when I was in the thick of it. Dreaded them.
When we are in the midst of a battle for our mental health, for our sanity, it isn’t simple to choose peace. We cannot choose peace any more than someone who has cancer can choose to be cancer free. We wait and hope for the best, hope for a light at the end of the tunnel. Once we find our light, however, we carry it with us through our lives and it makes us a stronger person. It changes us deep down.
Hard days make me grateful for my experience with Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Grateful that despite the horrid darkness into which I sank, I rose above it with the help of others. I am grateful for the silence and the magic of the world around me and being able to choose to see the beauty instead of ruminating on the what ifs of chaos.
Speaking of chaos, as we head into the holiday season, many are struggling to keep anxiety and other issues at bay due to the increased social expectations. Above all else, please remember to take care of yourselves.
Here are a few tips to help keep your holidays (and you) sane.
Holiday survival tips for moms with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders
- Know your boundaries. Defend them. If you are visiting others, scope out the location when you first arrive for a quiet corner to which you can escape if that chest-tightening ball swells suddenly in your chest and throat. (Bathrooms are fabulous for this as no one questions it!) Have a friend you trust on standby to text if things start to get intense. Or, heck, use an emergency phone call to rush out of there.
- Remember to breathe. Deeply. Breath is essential. It does far more than keep us alive. Deep breathing helps us soothe anxiety.
- Talk with your loved ones, particularly your partner or someone you are close to; develop an exit strategy if things get too overwhelming.
- Do not be afraid to say no to a gathering if you know it will be too much for you. See the first tip—know your boundaries.
- Do not answer questions you do not want to. Remember that you are not required to give an intimate description of how you are doing unless you are up to it. Change the subject. Or better yet, smile and walk away. Maybe to that quiet corner.
- Remember that how people choose to react to you is NOT YOUR GIG. Be the best you that you can be at this time in your life. How people choose to react to this says far more about them than it ever will about you.
You will get through this holiday. You will. You have come so far, and you are an expert at fighting fierce foes. The holidays won’t know what hit them by the time you are through. You got this.
Have a fabulous holiday season and don’t forget to be the awesomeness that is hidden deep inside.
Lauren Hale is a two time survivor of Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and has also experienced antenatal depression. She currently blogs at My Postpartum Voice. She is the founder of #PPDChat on Twitter, the first social media based community for moms and families struggling with Perinatal Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Lauren spends any spare time she might have in the kitchen, loves football, F1, and is fueled primarily by coffee, bacon, and Vienna Fingers.