Megan Potts suggests four supportive things to say to new mothers with anxiety.
Life as a mom has its ups and downs - whether due to postnatal depression or the general stresses of raising a child. I've had to get better at monitoring my mental health - and very quickly! I've also faced my fair share of the all-too-common "mommy guilt."
When my daughter was four months old, I suffered a severe breakdown. A year has passed since then, and I've spoken to some of the people who kept me safe when I was in a mental health crisis. I've even talked to one of the police officers who saw me at my lowest point.
It was an emotional conversation, and the officer said some things I needed to hear.
I've decided to share some of those things, hoping they reach a parent who needs them today.
1. “They don’t know you’ve been gone - they’re just happy you’re here now!”
I was absent from my daughter's life for almost a month after my breakdown.
As any parent knows, small children grow and change in the space of a month. I felt guilty for missing it. Hearing these words unleashed a year's worth of built-up remorse, and I burst into tears.
It was an emotional moment, but I finally felt the shame being lifted off my shoulders.
2. “I know you’re a good person.”
During my breakdown, I was aggressive and rude to an awful lot of people. I've spent the last year apologizing and letting people know that my daughter and I are doing well.
I don't think anyone took this badly, but it helped to hear that I'm not a terrible person.
It's reassuring to know I'm not the worst of my illness. People don't jump to my past when they see me. It's helped me combat guilt over my behavior at that time.
3. “You are, and will continue to be, a fantastic mom.”
When I was pregnant, far too many people told me I was "being irresponsible." I was "selfish" to have a child when I lived with a mental illness.
When I was in crisis mode, their words echoed in my head. I would walk the streets in the middle of the night, convinced I was reckless, even cruel, for having a child.
Even now, reminders that I can be a mom (and a good one) get me through the rough days.
4. “I’m sorry.”
The first people to say “sorry” don't often need to apologize. Still, their words aren’t any less meaningful.
This short phrase means that someone has recognized my pain. And, while they aren’t responsible for it, they understand my right to feel it. That means a lot.
These affirmations gave me reassurance, validation, and hope for the future. Nothing the police officer said shamed me for my past.
I have a beautiful, happy, healthy toddler. Other people haven't raised her. I have been her mother biologically and emotionally, except for one month when she was young. Her smile alone proves that mental illness doesn't stop me from being a good mom.
I've done a good job, as have countless other parents with mental illnesses. These are the things I needed to hear – could you, or someone you know, benefit from the same?
The information presented is solely for educational purposes, not as specific advice for post-natal depression or mental health management. Please consult with a professional who can apply best practices and appropriate resources to your situation.
NPS-ALL-NP-00742 NOVEMBER 2022