Now I'm not one for ignoring psychological effects in people. It interests me massively. And one thing I've been thinking about a lot recently is post natal depression, especially in men. I know women can and do get it, we all know that and I will write about that, but lately I've really been wondering about PND in men!
How did this come about? Well I was up and down like I don't know what with PNA and this pandemic was mainly to blame, as you will probably see is a running theme through quite a few of my posts. But one day I noticed my boyfriend was really down, he suffers MH himself but he has a great hold on things. I actually commend him for it. But this was different, I remember the moment he sat on the edge of our bed and said to me "can men get post natal depression" and half laughed. To which I though haha, but kind of not funny. I knew the signs, and whilst he is a brilliant dad, I've seen signs of PND in women a lot in the past and I noticed there was actually some truth to what he was asking. The lad was mentally exhausted, sleep deprived and it's not just a complete life overhaul for the mum, it's the partner too and they tend to fall by the wayside. Now I'm not taking away from the fact that it's mainly a mum thing, and no one will ever understand like the carrier and birther of said child, that's nature. But the way he looked so deflated, I told him I'd actually look into it. I remember him saying "I feel like he hates me, I pick him up and he screams" I'd feel guilty thinking 'our baby is only 4 months old he can't hate you' because just 2 days earlier I had said the exact same thing! But he can't give me the excuse of "I carried him for 9 months, he's bound to relax more with me". It was crazy trying to tell the person that I thought would be MY rock that the baby loved him and not to stress. It just highlighted the fact we were in it together. We had to form an alliance against the little common enemy... our baby 😂. I laugh because it's an over dramatized reflection on the truth. One day he would love me more and the next he'd be only for his dad the little shit. But his dad would struggle some days too. I'd see him get flustered at the slightest of things, I'd see him stress over money constantly, which wasn't helped when the government stopped his money soon as lockdown was ending leaving us to survive on just under £1000 a month for the 3 of us including all bills, and £680 of that was my contribution through maternity pay and the rest was his PIP. His dr wasn't really seeing him due to lockdown and things just seemed to be mounting up and mounting up and literally no one could help but us. I could feel his stress, and the responsibility of a baby seemed to just make his head explode. I understood, I still do.
What did we do? I spoke to him constantly. We aired out a lot of thoughts and feelings. I know during my mouthymum posts I'm just a gobby bitch with a free flowing vocabulary and honest approach to parenting, but I'm a whole other person away from that too. In our relationship I'm the communicator, where he will withdraw, I'll tend to pull info out of him and it's hard but it helps. So we spoke a lot. We make jokes about things, because I feel in life if you can't laugh at the bad you have absolutely no right laughing at the good. We discussed that our son wasn't just crying for nothing it was because he had his milk allergy so he was fussy. But when you're lasting on about 2 hours of broken sleep and you KNOW you have to get up the next day and do it all again, things don't make proper sense. My advice is always communicate. His drs ended up opening back up and he was back to regular talking sessions with an actual professional not just his girlfriend who had ideas and a fast internet connection. Talking with the right people REALLY does help, but so does having a good support system around you too. I say when it comes to mental health BE selfish. Don't care what others have to think (she says knowing full well that's not how anxiety works, I worry that even animals judge me which they don't... except cats, judgemental bastards). My personal advice, if someone's willing to listen, talk, talk, talk it out.
What did I find? I actually did find some very interesting information. Not only is PND in men recognised, it often has a peak point in the first year between 3-6 months. Sadly it often goes undiagnosed as you can imagine, men tend to go back to work, so everyone expects them to be fine as they get off 'lightly'. Yes they aren't stuck at home all day with a screaming baby, but they do tend to hear a play by play of the stress the woman/partner goes through, and it IS expected that when they get days off and come home from work they should spend it with the child/ren, and I completely agree, but you need to think also that this means no you time, which we ALL need. It's about being fair. According to nct.org.uk "Hormones including testosterone, oestrogen, cortisol, vasopressin, and prolactin may change in dads during the period after their babies arrive." Meaning that MENS hormones can cause a shift causing them to suffer PND too. As suspected it is more common in dads when the mums suffer it too. Put it this way, can you imagine how strong a person it takes to keep a level head and be loving and not be taken over by sadness seeing your partner struggle? To be in a home with a newborn, everything has changed, your relationship has changed, maybe your partner had a bad birth and they don't want to be touched, or CAN'T have sex due to problems out of any control, and they are distant to your baby as well, to worry about money and bills and feeding the baby, and caring for your partners mental health, and NOT put yourself on the back burner or burn yourself out? In a lot of circumstances I imagine it to be inevitable. Which is again, why a strong support system is SO important.
Who can help? Post partum depression department od illinois, dedicated to helping dads who suffer not only from PPD but also pregnancy anxiety: https://www.ppdil.org/resources-for-dads/?gclid=CjwKCAjwh7H7BRBBEiwAPXjadhCEgylwl6-6fdgKKxcApBUgiYY5Bol5FsmiqrmZ2N5Oy-Ri1jjW7xoCSboQAvD_BwE https://www.nct.org.uk/life-parent/emotions/postnatal-depression-dads-10-things-you-should-know Fathers Reaching Out: https://www.reachingoutpmh.co.uk MIND: https://www.mind.org.uk
Now I know this wasn't as light hearted as I'd like to post usually, but some things NEED to be spoken about and I felt this was one of them things. If this post can reach just one person who needs the help and needs validation that their feelings are completely normal and there IS help available specifially for them, then it was worth the time taken to write it! Please share, get the word out, PND is NOT gender specific! It can affect anyone and everyone deserves help.
Until next time gang, don't be a stranger and stay safe.
💙 Much Love 💖