Dads Must Deal With Indecisiveness During Postpartum Depression

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One evening, I waited impatiently for my husband to come home from work. It was another one of “those” postpartum depression days and I needed to be rescued. Not that my son was being a pain, it was because I was sinking in my own shoes.

When he walked in he kissed me lightly on the forehead and asked me how my day was. I rolled my eyes at him as if he should have automatically known how crappy it was.

The following conversation took place:

Husband: Sounds like you need a drink. Do you want me to make you one?

Me: I don’t care.

Husband: Well do you want me to make you one or not?

Me: I guess.

Husband: I’ll just make you one. What do you want?

Me: I don’t know.

Husband: I can make you a martini. A beer?

Me: I don’t know. Whatever is easiest for you.

Husband: Well what do you feel like? I’ll make you whatever you want.

Me: Ugh. I don’t know babe…

Then he just went and made me a drink. (Please note: I do realize that drinking alcohol can act as a depressant.)

What I’m trying to get at here is that postpartum depression and anxiety can make a person extremely indecisive. It’s not that we’re trying to be difficult. It’s just that we really don’t know what we want.

We. Don’t. Know. Period.

Making decisions as simple as what to drink can be extremely daunting for us. Sometimes these decisions can spur anxiety and frustration and, when interacting with our loved ones, can ignite arguments.This is why I think it’s important for our caregivers/spouses/significant others to understand this aspect of our illness. Here are some tips on how you can help (from my husband’s and my perspective):

  1. Know that we are nottrying to be difficult
  2. Know that making simple decisionscan be hard for us. Our minds are firing at 100 thoughts per second (or, for others, our minds aren’t firing at all). It is hard to filter through all of those thoughts to come up with a decision.
  3. If you find that we are getting flustered by making a choice,be patient with us.
  4. Don’t demand an answer.
  5. Ifwe cannot come up with a solution, it is more than ok togive us one. Don’t be afraid to just say “Ok, we’re going toXYZ for dinner”.The majority of the time (for me, anyway) we are worried about the kind of impact our decision will have on you and others. By choosing for us, we feel less pressured … and in my case totally relieved.
  6. Give us simple choices. Don’t ask things like “What colour should we paint this room?” because you will end up with a room painted orange.

I know that these may seem silly to you, but to those with PPD, the littlest things can create gigantic turmoil within us and between us. The small steps you take for us, the larger steps we can take towards our recovery. You, the Dad/caregiver/spouse/significant other are an integral part of our success in this. Remember that.

Even though we may not say it, we thank you so much and love you even more.

So what helps you when you’re indecisive?

Kimberly

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About Katherine Stone

is the founder & editor of Postpartum Progress. She was named one of the ten most influential mom bloggers of 2011, a WebMD Health Hero and one of the top 25 parent bloggers using social media for social good. She also writes the Fierce Blog, and a parenting column for Disney's Babble.com.

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Comments

  1. This is a great article. I could never really put these feelings into words. I thought I was just being difficult, but I didn't know how to stop it. You're right though. It's not that I was trying to be difficult or being pouty, I just couldn't get up enough energy to make a decision. Now that I can put it into words, I can start making it better. Thank you!
    Jenna
    momofmanyhats.blogspot.com

  2. This is good advice for all sorts of depression. Not just post partum. In my case, the indecisiveness is a good clue that I'm slipping/have slipped into an episode.

  3. amen!

  4. I found that making any decision was difficult. My husband didn't understand this either. I hope you can put it into words now

  5. Same here!! I toil even over simple things like what to wear. It is so frustrating.

  6. So SO true. I totally get what you're sharing and have been there. It's so real when we think about making a choice and it's just too much of an effort. Thanks for sharing, incredible mama.

  7. This is so true. I really don't know what I want. And trying to focus on the decision could bring on anxiety and overwhelm. So, I would withdraw from the conversation or become sullen.
    Major props to my husband for never becoming exasperated with me. I'm not sure I'd be as patient.

  8. Thanks for writing this. I've never heard anyone mention this aspect before, and it has been possibly the biggest issue for me.
    My husband once came home from work and found me crying, holding our crying baby. I had hardly eaten all day because I could never put the baby down. He offered to hold the baby and told me to go eat something, but I just sat there and continued to cry because I didn't know what to eat. It was so stupid, but I couldn't solve it. I had to wait for him to make me something and tell me to eat it.
    My struggle in my recovery is with the everyday decisions of how to spend my time. There is so much to do always, and I know it's important to just do something, but the big openness of that decision when there are so many options just paralyzes me.

  9. Kristin says:

    Yep, I can totally relate! I couldn't make a decision to save my life. I literally would get stuck standing in one place, not knowing what to do next. That's how bad it was. Utter confusion and everything overwhelmed me it seemed. That was such a difficult aspect for me, as I had always been so in control and had taken care of everything. It felt so out of control to feel like that. When I was having a good day, I found myself making lists. It helped make me feel a little more in control. Our banking pin numbers and passwords for online bill payments (cause on bad days I couldn't remember any of them…very scary to me), meal planning and grocery lists, etc. Ugh! I am SO happy and grateful to not be in that place anymore!

  10. One of the most annoying side effects of PPA can also be indecisiveness, or feeling one has lost all confidence in their ability to make decisions. This is a great post and I appreciate it.

  11. I even grapled with making up my own mind with simple things like what to wear. Ugh so frustrating.

  12. I would think that too that my husband was so patient with me. The choosing is what would send my head spinning in anxiety. Simple things like what to eat or if my husband should or shouldn't come with me to the grocery store were extremely difficult and I wasn't trying to be difficult. I just couldn't make up my mind

  13. I promise you that it will get better. I never thought that it would but it does. Don't beat yourself up if you can't make the decision and know when to congratulate youself when you do. Even if it is so small like what to eat. I used to keep a journal of all the things I accomplished and making decisions were one of the things I kept tabs on.
    Hugs Momma.

  14. I would stand in front of my closet for hours toiling over what to wear. It is such a terrible feeling. You have a great idea about keeping lists and for me, it was keeping routines too that helped out. I remember sitting at the kitchen table making out meal plans with my husband for the entire week so that there would be no choices to make when a meal came.

  15. It's both a loss of confidence and simply just being overwhelmed with a simple yes or no or shorts or skirts. It is an awful symptom.

  16. I eventually just came up with a line for these times… after many frustrating conversations like this. Still now, I say to my husband, "my brain just can't do a decision right now. Can you just handle it/make it happen/not ask me that anymore?" He has learned to go with it, and I have learned to be happy with whatever decision he makes when I am unable to do so.

  17. You explained it so well. I remember after coming home, I just started crying. When asked why I was crying, I answered that I didn't know why. And I didn't.