I was going to do a very long-winded blog post about suffering depression and being a parent. I deleted it. It's funny - I don't feel comfortable sharing that much but it did get me thinking - there's so much research on post-partum depression for women but there's not much done on men suffering from post-partum depression. Maybe it's the general societal stigma attached to men suffering depression... I don't know.
"On average the studies showed, 10.4 percent of new fathers became depressed during the gestational or postpartum period. In the subset of studies that looked at paternal well-being three to six months after the baby was born, 25.6 percent of fathers were depressed."
I guess also from my own perspective I'm in a bit of a unique situation. Maybe not unique. Maybe uncommon is more correct. I know there is a rise in stay-at-home Dads worldwide - economic realities being what they are...
But for me:
- I had lost my financial independence for the first time in my adult life. I was completely and absolutely reliant on someone else to survive. And that took some coping.
- I lost my sense of self-identity. I stopped being Michael and I had become Louise & Olivia's Dad (or Mummy as some people have said).
- I battled with my new role as a parent (I will admit I do have more of a maternal role in this family)
- I had gained a substantial amount of weight and I hated myself for it (I've had body issues most of my life!)
- I felt isolated, I felt very much alone. And that was probably the hardest part of it all. There wasn't really anyone I could turn to and I felt that I had to be strong for the girls. There were moments where I did physically break down and cry because it was all just too much.
- I felt I was never going to bond with the girls. From having spoken to a few other parents (even mothers) they've felt the same way.
There are still elements of the above that I battle with but I suspect it's going to be that way for a long time! But I have strategies to deal with them. And I guess that's probably the main thing especially for men. Know that you are and get help - it doesn't make you any less manly (I don't think so at any rate) especially when there are other lives at stake.
I will say this much though. When I bonded with the girls - I bonded. Those two beautiful little girls are mine and I will do anything for them. I guess it's what unconditional love is.