Zombie: [zom-bee] n. 1. a person who is or appears to be lifeless, apathetic, or totally lacking in independent judgment; automaton
Who among us has not at one time or another felt as if we were a Zombie? Going through life trapped in repetitive motions, functioning because we had to instead of so desiring to function? Come on.. raise your hands!
New mothers are at particular risk for this – new dads too!
Bringing a little creature into your life is enough to suck the very life blood from your own veins. It’s as if you’ve been infected – it’s your very own Baby Apocalypse!
Nursing, feeding, crying, fussing, playing, mixed up nights and days, toss in a Postpartum Mood Disorder for good measure and you’re totally screwed in no time.
Just as with Zombies, many humans have their own theories about Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders. Some people believe they exist. Others don’t think they exist at all. Those who do believe in PMAD’s are likely to prepare for a second round with them while those who do not believe in them choose not to prepare at all. It’s this population I worry about the most.
A few things you need to know about fighting off a Postpartum Apocalypse:
1) Educate yourself. Get intimate with the signs and symptoms of all of the disorders on the spectrum. Know what it looks like to have Postpartum OCD vs. Posptartum Psychosis. What does Postpartum Depression look like to someone else? What about Postpartum Anxiety or BiPolar? Which one is an imperative medical emergency? (BTW, any of them are an imperative medical emergency IF mom is suicidal and/or threatening harm to others – but Postpartum Psychosis is ALWAYS a medical emergency!)
2) Pull together several sources of personal support. Just as in fending off Zombies, there is strength in numbers. Find a support group. For you, this may be your parents, your partner’s parents, leaders from your church or center of faith, a local support group specifically for Postpartum Mamas or you may find something online like the Online PPD Support Page, #PPDChat, or iVillage’s Postpartum & Pregnancy Depression Message Board. Build up your arsenal of support early. The stronger your support system is, the better chance you have at fighting back and getting ahead of the coming waves.
3) Call in the Army. Well, not literally. In your case, the Army will be your physicians, your Therapist, your Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Midwife, Herbalist, Pediatrician, IBCLC, anyone involved in care for YOU or your baby. These professionals are trained and know just how to zap that depression. If you have these folks on you stand a much better chance of really obliterating the Postpartum Zombification heading your way. If you need help locating an ever-growing group of knowldgeable professionals, let me know. I’ll be happy to help.
4) Don’t stay home. Get out. Get moving .Believe it or not, research was actually done in regards to a popular Zombie movie – Night of the Living Dead. Their conclusion? Quarantine was riskier than Offensive responsive behavior. I know, my jaw dropped too. Get out. Walk. Go to the library. The local track. A zoo, museum, local fitness center. I found out I can join a public county gym for just $60/year. Guess what I’ll be doing in January? Shaking my groove thing around their track, on their elliptical’s, and using their weight machines.
5) Be an active participant in your recovery. Simply sitting on a therapist’s couch or in their office will not heal you. Neither will staring at a bottle of prescription medication or herbal supplements. You have to share your thoughts, experiences with your healthcare professionals and close support people. Twiddling thumbs is not what gets the Zombies off the front porch. It lets them in them in the front door. You might as well serve Sweet Tea and Cocktail Weenies for crying out loud. Skipping this important step is not recommended at all.
With a little bit of preparation, you too can strengthen the your survival of and recovery from an attack of a Postpartum Mood Disorder.
We won’t leave you all alone out there. We promise.
(This post inspired via Twitter discussion with @BrerMatt and @herbadmother. I’d like to thank the poor innocent spider who may have lost his life at the hand of @herbadmother in order to lead us to this post.)