This one is for you husbands.
Normally I don’t address you. Normally I talk to your wife as the mama of your baby/babies.
But today I thought it was finally time I talked directly to you.
First off, I want to say, on behalf of all of us wives/mamas, I know it’s hard being married to a woman with PPD. I know it is confusing and frustrating. I know you just want everything back to normal and your smiling, playful, happy wife back. I know it’s so hard to always be the shoulder to cry on, the strong one, the one who has to have it all together. I know all this because I’ve lived in that crying, weak, falling apart woman. And I’ve lived with the man going through what you’re going through.
What PPD is and what it isn’t can help you understand a little better of what’s going on. But what do you do? How do you make it better? I know you like (need) to fix things and it makes you feel like pulling your eyelashes out when you can’t. (Please don’t.) There ARE ways you can help both of you.
#1 Realize it’s not your job to fix everything, and everything isn’t your fault
PPD can cause a range of emotions – anger, extreme sadness, despair, nonstop crying, anxiety, frustration, annoyance, outbursts and more. I know, all horrible things. Definitely not attractive, sweet things displayed by the gentle, lovely woman you promised for better or for worse to. There might be marital issues you’re responsible for and need to address, but this postpartum depression is NOT your fault, so lets take blame out of the game right now.
#2 Know there are things you can do to help
Even though it’s not your fault, there are ways that you can either help or hurt the situation. Learn your lady’s love language. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love can and has conquered all. In this difficult situation, love and showing more of it can be a huge, huge help – to both of you. Sometimes she just needs you to drop what you’re doing, devote your (entire) attention to her and be the ear to listen to all her irrational, crazy thoughts/feelings/emotions. Sometimes she just needs the biggest, tightest, strongest hug you can muster. Sometimes she needs you to take the baby and the responsibility of making him/her/them happy, do the diaper changes without complaining, make the supper she can’t bring herself to even figure out. Sometimes she needs to know you think her scarred, stretched out, hormone ravaged body is still attractive to you. Sometimes she needs you to buy her a single flower and card with a (handwritten!) love note inside. Sometimes she needs a back rub and bubble bath while YOU hold down the fort. Believe it or not, sometimes she needs touched and made love to. Sometimes she doesn’t need touched, and given a safe, quiet place she can go to relax. Sometimes she needs you to lead devotions and/or heart-felt prayer for help and healing through this time. Sometimes she needs focused, quality time with you – no mindless staring at the TV while sitting on separate couches. Sometimes she needs to cuddle on the couch with you and mindlessly stare at the TV. Sometimes it’s none of the above.
Mind blowing, right? It sounds confusing, and overwhelming, but remember, you KNOW this woman. You are an intelligent, brilliant man, who she thought so much of that she made a baby with you. You CAN help in tangible ways, and sometimes just you TRYING can help her see a little clearer through her darkness to your effort so she can then try to help you help her. Please don’t give up. Please, for both your sakes, please keep trying. You guys are worth it and this time won’t last forever. It is a part of your lives, though, that can either help or hurt your marriage. Your woman is still inside this woman.
#3 Realize nutritional imbalances can cause serious emotional/mental issues
Anger, depression, anxiety can all come about from mineral deficiencies in the frontal lobe of the brain. Mood disorders can also be attributed to gluten, grains, genetically modified ‘foods’ (GMOs) and sugar. Deficiency of important vitamins like D, can cause body aches and pains and contribute to depression. (Side note: If you suspect or confirm it is D deficiency, you need to make sure she’s getting enough Vitamin K2, which is in organic grass fed animal products like eggs, butter, dairy, or a high quality supplement). Suggest you help her with meals, and then focus on healthy, grass-fed meats, organic veggies and organic, ancient grains like sprouted brown rice, millet, quinoa (sparingly), and spelt (this has gluten, although much easier to digest than modern, hybridized wheat). You can also do organic sweet potatoes, organic blue/gold/red potatoes (these are simple carbs tho, so do them sparingly and with lots of protein), spaghetti squash, sprouted lentils, or beans. Instead of sugary, processed foods for treats/desserts/breakfast, switch out your white sugar with local raw honey, maple syrup, maple sugar, coconut sugar and possibly xylitol (this is a sugar alcohol, so it can cause digestive issues if used in excess), but also try to cut them back. (There are some easy recipe ideas on my Real Recipe page).
Another highly recommended resource is finding a Nutrition Response Testing practitioner, Functional Medicine Doctor, or if neither are available in your area, a clinical nutritionist or acupuncturist who uses muscle testing could seriously help with your wife’s PPD. I have had many issues along with the PPD – adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues, mineral deficiency, kidney and liver problems, and I believe they contributed heavily to it. This testing was quite literally a life saver for me (us). My NRT Doc got me on supplements like Tuna Omega 3 Oil, Orchex, and Cataplex C (vitamin C for the adrenals), and Vitamin D3 with vitamin K drops. Seriously, nutrition can change your wife from night to day. Sometimes it’s an immediate change, sometimes it’s gradual as her body recognizes it’s being given the nutrients it needs to heal and rebuild. Either way, nothing can take the place or importance of nutrition in regards to postpartum depression.
#4 Pray, pray, pray, pray and then tell her you’re praying for her and then pray with/over her
God says where two or more are gathered together, there in the midst He will be with them. He answers the prayers of the righteous. He cares about His children and has the best in mind for them. Sometimes the best comes by going through the worst times (see the whole book of Job). He teaches us through our trials. He can and will teach BOTH of you through this trial. Please let Him.
Finally, dear husband of my fellow postpartum depressed mama, you are amazing. You’ve already made it through at least one pregnancy with your dearly beloved, and that can be tumultuous enough. I know this is worse, to a different degree. But remember, you guys made at least one beautiful baby, and your beautiful baby/babies need BOTH of you, together. You can do this. You can be that knight in shining armor, even if she’s not acknowledging just how shiny your armor actually is right now. She will someday, and that day you’ll see how very worth it it was to stick to your vows and truly love your wife. Hold on for that day, strong man.