How Postpartum Prepared Me For SIP

Drawing by Oliver Jeffers

After being diagnosed with postpartum depression, which manifested mainly as anxiety for me, I worked with my doctor and a therapist to find ways to cope and start to feel better. I’ve often heard people discuss “feeling like themself again” after having a baby, but I don’t think that the goal should be to return to your former self. How could you? I read somewhere that a mother is born alongside the baby and I believe that.

In addition to medication and therapy, I worked hard to find tactics and routines to help me each day. I hesitated to write “get through each day,” but that’s truly what it was for my first few months as a new mother. In some ways though, my postpartum struggles prepared me for sheltering in place. I’m lucky to be healthy, employed, and living close to Golden Gate Park, but I have really missed making plans and having things to look forward to beyond Zoom calls and nightly walks. I do think I would have slipped back into the melancholy mood of early motherhood without some of the tools I’ve implemented below.Getting ready every day. Some days, I just changed into fresh pjs, but I still showered and maybe even put on some makeup. Now, instead of saving favorite clothes for when we are going out into the world again, I wear them even if I’m just on Zoom work calls all day.

Breathing in fresh air early in the day. There were days when going for a walk seemed so hard but I did it every. single. day. I notice a huge difference now that we are sheltering in place if I don’t get fresh air in the morning.

Implementing weekly rituals. We’ve been doing Taco Tuesday, Negronis and pizza on Fridays, and pancakes on Sunday. Little things to make these monotonous days feel a bit special.

Listening to music! Somewhere during the early days of motherhood I realized I’d stopped listening to music completely.

Completing small tasks and celebrating small wins. I realized that when I wasn’t working I had to shift what productivity looked like and also face how much productivity was tied to my self worth. While being productive isn’t everything, I am extremely goal oriented and it is crucial to my mental health to feel like I’m not stagnant. I finally reached a happy medium where I felt more comfortable not getting as much done, but set small goals that I can check off, even if it’s just going through photos on my iPhone.

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