First off, I want to clarify that I don't have the answer to the question, "Which came first: depression or weight gain?" This doesn't matter because depression and weight gain typically go hand in hand; weight gain can cause depression, and depression can cause weight gain. It is therefore important to manage one's weight in order to manage depression.
Coping with Depression
When one characteristic of postpartum depression is guilt, how do you become a better parent? When your house is messy because you just don't have the energy to clean, you feel guilty. When your first reaction to your child's cries is anger instead of loving concern, you feel guilty. When you love your child but hate being a parent because of your postpartum depression, you feel guilty. But there's good news. I found that having postpartum depression also gave me advantages as a parent.
Fact: depression is not always clinical. Sometimes, it occurs not due to changes in the brain but because of a difficult life situation. I know this because I have experienced both clinical depression and situational depression over the years. And although their causes are different, they have similar effects, effects that make life harder than usual.
Have you ever noticed that when you are feeling depressed, at least one person in your life tells you to "stop feeling sorry for yourself?" Depression and self-pity seem to go hand in hand, but they are not the same thing. Experiencing self-pity is significantly different from being blue. Here's how you can tell the difference.
Do you have existential depression? Answer these questions: Do you feel like you are living on autopilot with no higher purpose? Do you feel like a hamster on a wheel, stuck with the same dull routine day after day? Do you feel that you are not doing your part to leave the world a better place than you found it—and maybe you never can? If these kinds of existential thoughts make your depression harder to deal with, then in my experience, you might have a case of existential depression.
My name is Kelly Epperson, and I am very excited to join HealthyPlace as a contributor to the "Coping with Depression" blog. I suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of my children in 2012 and 2014. I will be sharing my experience with this illness and strategies that helped me cope.
Here's the thing: I had trauma or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) long before the pandemic; it's one of the reasons my depression is chronic. In my opinion, the pandemic has led to PTSD even in people who haven't contracted COVID-19. I say this with confidence because it's the reason my PTSD has become more intense since last year, and as a member of mental health groups, I have seen people exhibiting PTSD symptoms. And yes, one of the symptoms of PTSD is depression.
If 2020 was a terrible year for you and it made your depression worse, please know that you are not alone. Even as a mental health blogger with nearly two decades of lived experience, the past year has been one of the roughest years of my life.
This will be my final post of 2020. Not only are we heading into a new year, but I am due to give birth in just over a week, and I'll be taking a few weeks after that to settle into our new routine as a family of four (and I'm using the word "routine" very loosely). So, with that in mind, I thought I would use this week's blog post to reflect on what I've learned in 2020, and more specifically, what I've learned since joining the HealthyPlace community.
It is often said that relationships are a two-way street — that you get out what you put in. So how do you maintain relationships (platonic, romantic, or familial) when your mental health interferes with your ability to support others? How do you maintain relationships when you are so preoccupied with your thoughts and ruminations that it doesn't even occur to you to check in on the people closest to you? Sure, the odd blip can be forgiven, but in the case of chronic, long-term depression, how do you manage to convince other people to stick around? How do you tell them that you're not selfish, just suffering?