I am talking to my 6 year old son about Postpartum Depression. Here’s why

I have been talking to my son about Postpartum Depression (and mental health generally) lately, and there is a reason why. As a Postpartum Depression Survivor, I keep wondering, what if I had learnt about mental health way before I became a mom? What if this was part of our conversations? Wouldn’t it go a long way in reducing the stigma associated with mental health? Wouldn’t help my son learn about self care and help him comprehend some of the changes in mood he has seen in me? in himself? in the family?

Having gone public with my Postpartum Depression story (see this link), I realized that withholding accurate information on mental health from my son does no good. He might not understand it now, but in this day and age of the internet, he will learn about it sooner than later. And instead of leaving him to his own devices to figure it out, I am beginning the lessons early enough. If anything, I am hopeful this information helps him feel more secure and less fearful about mental illness.

Here’s how the conversation began: He asked what I have been doing ‘talking on TV’ and why ‘those TV people have not come back this year yet he has been waiting’. And so I figured this would be a wonderful note to start the topic. So, I told him when he was born, I was not able to handle a small baby well and my mind got a little sick. That made me sad and I used to cry sometimes. But I saw a doctor who helps treat the mind, and I got better. So, after that I started a ‘company’ (organization really) that helps moms whose minds are sick. He asked what company that was, and I said PPDKenya, even showing him some of the official documents.

Read More: PPDKenya provides psychosocial support for moms with Postpartum Depression (PPD)

He was quite inquisitive. He asked how and why the mind gets sick, what the doctor does and whether I would get sick again. To which I answered, the mind is a part of the body, like the leg, hand or head. And just like these other parts get sick, so can the mind. The doctor may give medicine to a mom to help her get better. Would my mind get sick again? (This had me undone to be honest, because it is a fear that lingers at the back of my mind.) I answered honestly, and at a level a 6 year old would understand: I could get sick again, anyone’s mind can get sick, but I am taking care of myself and doing what the doctor told me (during therapy). I assured him that talking about what worries our minds is one of the ways to take care of ourselves, and if he ever had any issues he could share them with me. He agreed (and has since admitted he doesn’t like it when I do XYZ, his heart feels sad when someone dies like my cucu did this past week, and that he feels like crying when the phone games hang..) It is encouraging to see him learn how to describe his emotions an put words to his feelings – it reminds me we are making progress.

Hopefully we can keep up this momentum as the days go by.

Sidenote: Ever since he saw the PPDKenya documents, he has been so enthusiastic to ‘help’ me run the organization, complete with writing posts on his ‘PPDKenya Notebook’. This warms my heart, that this tiny human believes in me to help other mommies, in his words ‘for their minds not to get sick’ 🙂

We have good news!! PPDKenya is finally launching physical support groups!

December is finally here – 2017 has been a long year (well, for many of us). Personally, it has been the one year that stretched me in just about every aspect – emotionally, financially and physically (because the weight settled in, haha to all the cake). But it has also been the year in which I have grown and learned – still learning – to embrace change, because change is the only permanent thing in life. It has been a journey in every sense of the word. Some days exciting and full of purpose, others dreary and depressive. We pulled through, and ultimately that’s what matters.

This and last month has felt like an unending struggle day in day out, in part because my son fell ill first week after closing school and then after that I started to feel myself lose the grip on what PPDKenya is all about, whether there’s any impact it’s having and if it is worth anything. I found myself utterly disillusioned, and just not having any energy to come back to this space. And so, I took a break. I spoke to a few pals and two things stirred me up to get on here and begin to share on something I have always wanted to start on, hence the good news.

Read More: This is why I speak out about PPD

My pal KK reminded me of his journey as a photographer (who by the way, does a fabulous job. Check out his IG account here), and why he started. His mission is to make beautiful memories. That is his why. He asked me to remember my ‘why’. I recalled how, when I started this blog, I was all about creating awareness and helping moms struggling with postpartum Depression (PPD). That was, still is my ‘why’. This had somehow faded into the background, toppled over by the demands of motherhood and a seemingly unending load of work in the quest to get some money. And in a few months it started to feel like a daunting task, just to get up and come back here. Reminded of my ‘why’, I am slowly crawling back to this place.

Second thing that stirred me up is when I talked to a lady who works in the mental health field and I was interested in additional resource material. She recommended my website to me (at which point I chuckled because I hadn’t mentioned it to her), and said she had been referring moms to it as a helpful reference point alongside medical help. It was humbling and encouraging to hear this, which is why it stirred me to come back to the place where my words find a home.

Read More: PPD – the conversation on Victoria’s Lounge

For the longest time, I have wanted to start support group therapy for moms and dads dealing with PPD. It has always been the underlying need to do more than just the TV and print interviews – to reach out and offer psychosocial support to those struggling with the aim of connecting them to professional help. I am reminded of my son’s early years when I desperately looked for  support group or forum that addressed PPD and couldn’t find any. In retrospect, maybe this would have helped. It is the reason why, after months of hesitating and self-doubt, it is time to launch and start a new chapter on the blog, hence the good news.

We are finally starting support group therapy sessions in 2018! *insert ululation*. Many moms have reached out and asked about this, so there’s a need for such a safe space. PPDKenya has partnered with Royal Fountain Counselling Services (RFCS) to offer group therapy sessions at a very subsidized fee. At the core of these meetings is the need to offer support and walk the journey through recovery with those suffering from PPD. This professional-led group will offer information, support, and tools to help you in your recovery journey. Anyone affected by PPD need not struggle alone because there’s help available, and they can recover.

Details:

  • The first meeting is slated for Saturday 13th January 2018 at a venue to be confirmed. The cost of all the five sessions is KShs. 2500 (which translates to 500 per session). This is heavily subsidized to ensure that help is closer to those affected, while offering a chance for parents to connect and share their experiences in a confidential setting.
  • A cycle is typically made of 5 sessions spread over two months. The support group meetings will be held on alternate Saturdays, so the first will be on 13th Jan, the next on 27th Jan and so on. We thought this to be flexible for most people.
  • Once a cycle begins, the participants will typically attend all 5 sessions before another new cycle begins with new participants. This is done to help ensure that those affected get the most of the support groups.

In Summary:

Date: Saturday 13th January 2018, from 11AM to 1PM (and thereafter at the same time on alternate Saturdays)

Venue: TBA

Fee: Kshs 2500 (Note that this is for all 5 sessions)

Please email on ppdisland@gmail.com or call +254 733 424 361 to register for the support group therapy meetings or to make inquiries. We look forward to hearing from you. Do not forget to like the Facebook Page here and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.