In this video Leila shares her experience with Postpartum Depression and how she has come to look at it as being an Existential Crisis that envelops one’s whole life and the definitions we’ve ascribed to ourselves. Rather than being a short-term ‘localized’ experience, the Raw Truth of ourselves steps forth and we have the opportunity to look at some hard questions experiences that’ve been with us our entire life.
Hi everyone, in this video I wanted to talk about Post-Partum Depression.
When I was pregnant and I first heard and read about Post-Partum Depression and the ‘baby blues’ it seemed like something ‘out there’. Just even the words ‘postpartum depression’ like all the ‘latin-ness’ in there, like it’s some specialized condition, put me off. And also the wording seems to localize the experience to only having to do about after the birth and the separation of baby and mother from the womb. But for myself… did I go through postpartum depression? Yes, I did. I went through periods of lots of crying. I was exhausted mentally and physically.
Interesting thing is that in looking back I should have known. In that when I first found out that I was pregnant, I was freaking the fuck out and I was crying, I was petrified because knowing that I was pregnant brought out all these insecurities, those inherent belief that I’m not adequate enough, that I have no self-trust, no self-confidence and I’m just going to fail at this miserably. And that same signature, that experience of finding out that I was pregnant in that panic — was the same signature that I experienced after the birth. Because it’s not about the ‘after birth experience’ and ‘oh you may get like depressed because of the hormonal changes’ and you know, ‘if you do just let people know so we can just contain that because you know unstable moms scare us’.
What I found for myself was that it’s not about that small, little period after the birth, having a child — and especially if it’s your first — you’re faced with an existential crisis. In that moment of having a child, you’re not just faced with ‘Oh the child leaving my body and all these things happening’, you’re dealing with the very question of existence: Why we are here? Why are we doing the things we do?
Because whatever meaning we have given life; whatever meaning we have given to ourselves: is going to be reflected in our parenting. It’s the framework that determines everything. And at the same time in asking that question, you’re faced with the meaning and framework that your parents gave to life. If life on Earth for them is all about survival, competition,’ just making it’ — really being part of the human race, ‘you got to be a winner’. Then that’s going to translate into your parenting. Because it’s going to define how you feed your child, how you educate your child, how much you praise your child, how much you break them down, how much you compare them to others. It’s going to frame everything. And as much as you’re asking yourself that question about ‘who are you gonna be’, who do you want your child to be’, ‘what are you doing here with a child on earth’ — your entire childhood, your entire development, everything that comes with that comes back to the surface. All these undealt with issues, all those self-sabotaging beliefs, all those limiting perceptions that we have about ourselves come up. And what comes to mind is like a paint bucket, that’s been kept under high pressure and now someone put a hole in it and it just splatters all over the walls. That’s then the postpartum experience, where everything is just so intense and emotional and you’re all over the place.
And it’s not that it is a new experience. Because if you look at the Paint Bucket example again, the paint was already there – but it was just contained. And having a child, becoming a mother just presents the opportunity for that to come out, full force, full view, everywhere around you. And the fact that you go through that emotional experience and that really deep feeling: it’s not a bad thing. Because you’re actually really being honest about how you experience yourself, how you have been experiencing yourself all your life and you are willing to look at those questions even though they hurt, even though it’s so uncomfortable, even though you just had a child — a huge responsibility. You know, other mothers may breeze through the initial stages of birth and having a baby but maybe it’s because they’re not asking those questions. Maybe those questions came up but they managed to keep that lid closed. It doesn’t mean it’s not there so we also have to be very careful about comparing ourselves to other people, other mothers, what they went through, did not go through.
But for me I know that what I went through is equal and one to my own experience of what I have been living, how I was brought up, the conflict that was always there.
When I first went to panic when I found out I was pregnant you know it was just initially you manage and you work with it but at the same time it’s also because you know on a level it’s nine months from now – I have time.
For myself I worked with what I could, I asked myself a lot of questions about my own relationship with my mother, what is the type of mother I want to be, what are the fears that are coming up… and just kind of already starts preparing myself for what’s to come.
But when you have the actual baby, I mean it’s like you have no idea what’s in that paint bucket and the colours that are gonna come out. You know there’s stuff there but you don’t know what it is. Because you you’ve been keeping it in the dark and there’s nothing that can prepare you for that. Like you can prepare yourself to the best of your ability and there will still be things coming up.
Then another interesting thing is that after two years — that’s kind of when my son started to settle where he had all his teeth, his major growth, physical growth points were done with, he got more stable I started getting some proper sleep and kind of settling to a normal life routine again.
And I was like ‘Aaah, I can rest now….’ and then shit started hitting the fan again and I’m like ‘What is going on?’ like I’ve got all these pains, all these anxieties, fears, depressions,… where is this coming from? And then I talked to a friend of mine and she said look from what I can see everything you’re experiencing now goes back to your pregnancy, it goes back to those first initial months after birth where there’s so much shit comes up and you just don’t have enough time, you don’t have enough space to work with it. Because you know, you gotta tend to yourself, you’ve gotta tend to your child and you do the best that you can.
And it’s like your body knows and goes ‘Okay, we’ll just we’ll just scrape all this paint off, put it back in the bucket and we’ll work with it later’. So two years was my later and it all like it all came back and I’m still working through many of those points because you know it’s an existential crisis, it’s a big point, it’s a big question and it’s a very cool opportunity really to get to know yourself better to really answer those questions of why you’re here or, what do you want to create, what do you want to create for your children, what kind of person do you want your child to be — because that’s going to determine everything that you do with your child.
Another friend of mine she had like awful, awful childhood she grew up in the slums, third-world country. There was death, panic, conflict, violence, fear…that was like the background music to her life. She’s living in a first world country now, she’s not in that survival mode anymore. She had two kids and yeah initially there was a lot of emotional turmoil but it settled down and the kids got to a certain age and it’s like her mind and body just start shutting down with panic attacks, deep, deep stuff.
With my own childhood I know it was a tumultuous and conflictual childhood and it was reflected in my postpartum experience and equally for her because her childhood had been so rough. Who she is and her self-definition was is so defined by those childhood experiences that that’s what comes up because that’s what you need to work through, that’s what’s going to shape the rest of your life, your children’s lives and to use that opportunity. So as everything comes up work: through it. And don’t judge yourself for it because like I said before, this is you actually really being in touch with yourself, allowing yourself to feel, to ask those questions.
And I think if we can stop looking at postpartum depression as this clinical condition that only happens you know for this little period after birth, but see it for what it is, as an existential crisis that really, actually started from the moment you were born — and it’s not just about those few months — it’s about the very core of your being. We don’t necessarily have to change the name but give it a different name like ‘existential crisis’ or you know being faced with ‘who I am crisis’ instead of like a mental condition — I think we would all look at these points a lot more and be a lot more open about it and share about it.
Because now it’s like ‘Ooh, that mom has postpartum depression…’ and we start tiptoeing around them and we don’t want to set them off and it’s such a delicate thing … No I mean that’s not how I would want to work with it, I don’t want other people to do that with me, just talk about it for what it is, talk about the hard questions you are facing, talk about the truth of yourself that you are facing — for me honestly in the for the first time getting that raw feedback, use it.
Alright I think that’s about it.
Thank you for watching, if you have any comments please do share