One of the things I’ve always told moms with postpartum depression who are headed to see their doc or therapist is this: Tell them EVERYTHING. Don’t hold back. Don’t lie about or leave out any of your postpartum depression symptoms.
Are you sleeping? How much? If not, is it that you can’t fall asleep, or you can fall asleep but you wake up later and can’t fall asleep after that?
Are you eating? Really eating?
How do you feel about yourself right now? Doing okay or wanting to crawl under a rock or run away? Have you thought about hurting yourself? Have you hurt yourself in any way?
What about your head, what’s going on in there? Are you having thoughts that scare the crap out of you? What-if thoughts that make you wonder whether you’re some kind of monster?
Are you getting support? Are you able to ask for support, or are you turning away the people trying to help?
Are you concerned about even being in this doctor’s office? Do you distrust him or her, or are you afraid of telling the truth, or are you afraid of certain types of treatment?
Say it. Say it all. Lay bare each and every one of your postpartum depression symptoms. If this person has any kind of experience treating moms with postpartum depression or anxiety or PTSD or antenatal depression then they’ve heard it all before. What’s happening to you or what you are feeling is not going to make them fall off the couch, or run screaming out of the room, or hit you over the head with the nearest blunt object. It’s not, because they know you have an illness and they know the kind of things that can happen with an illness like yours, and if they know exactly what’s going on with you then they’ll be able to help you SO MUCH MORE EFFECTIVELY.
And if, for whatever reason, they really aren’t good at this stuff and they make you feel uncomfortable, or they’re not willing to give you explanations and descriptions and side effects and considerations, then you can always get up and walk out and go elsewhere.
I’m thinking of all of this because of Karen Kleiman’s great Psychology Today piece about lying in therapy. People don’t lie outright, she says, as much as they just leave things out. Don’t mention certain postpartum depression symptoms or new unhealthy coping mechanism. “Forgot” to mention your intrusive thoughts? Cutting? Increased alcohol usage? Current abusive relationship? She lists several reasons why people lie in therapy, and then explains, “Lies of omission will either drastically postpone valuable therapeutic work or it can totally derail the process. You are wasting your time and your money if you lie to your therapist.”
It’s true. It really is. Don’t lie mamas. Lay it out there.
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