Obstacles You May Encounter:
As you deal with PPD several obstacles will appear. Whether they be medical, psychological, financial, or societal they are all real and must be dealt with. Below are some of the more common obstacles.
- Unhelpful Family and Friends
- Insurance Companies
- Job/Financial Concerns
- Stigma of Depression
- Your Own Attitudes
- Refusal of Treatment
- Legal Issues
Unhelpful Family and Friends
While the support of family and friends can be invaluable in dealing with PPD, unhelpful family and friends can be a real burden. Unhelpful family and friends come in many forms and degrees. On the mild side are the ones that are very concerned about you and your wife, sincerely want to help, but just don’t understand the situation. They feel like if your wife would just stop worrying about things everything would be okay. They don’t understand depression very well and tend to get in the way. They may lecture your wife with the sincere intent to make her feel better, only to leave her more depressed. Being around them can be draining to you because they aren’t helping.
On the more severe side are the family and friends who think you are trying to kill their daughter, sister, or friend. They will actively try to sabotage her treatment and separate the two of you. Again they do this thinking they are saving your wife but the effect can be very damaging.
There are also the family members that just “disappear” during the crisis. They can’t bring themselves to confront the situation and deal with the depression, so they cut you and your wife out of their lives. The damage that they cause is they deprive you of their support and reinforce the stigma surrounding depression.
Other friends and family will provide lots of advice and suggestions for alternate cures. These may range from meditation, to herbal remedies, to expensive resorts. Again, since depression is so little understood by society at large, hearing that someone is depressed and requires medical treatment can be very disturbing to people.
Here are some suggestions for dealing with unhelpful family and friends:
- – Be very open in your communication with them. Explain what is going on with your wife and her treatment plan. Explain what you do and do not want them to do. Be understanding of their concerns as well.
- – For the mildly unhelpful relative, come up with practical ways that they can help and feel part of the recovery process. Taking care of shopping, caring for the baby, running errands, etc.
- – Screen her phone calls. Do not allow people to tie her up on the phone lecturing her if you don’t think they understand what is going on.
Pam’s family visited regularly during the depression. Unfortunately I couldn’t relax because I was worried about what they were telling her and I had a house full of people. I would have much preferred if they would have taken her out of the house, anywhere, and left me to have some peace and quiet at home. I wish I would have told them very clearly that I didn’t want a house full of people and that I would appreciate them taking Pam out somewhere to visit.
Stigma of Depression
One way that dealing with depression is unlike most other ailments is that people are very reluctant to talk about it. If you have cancer, or some other serious ailment, people generally know how to react and support you. Depression is much different, people are often uncomfortable talking about it and you may be reluctant to bring it up. Unfortunately this cuts you off from much of the support that you need.
When Ana had a very serious life threatening illness, the support we got from friends, coworkers, and family was wonderful. People cooked us dinner, friends called regularly, people at work were very supportive. I could talk freely about her progress and let people know how I was handling the ordeal. There was a general feeling of support and openness. After Ana’s hospitalization for depression it was much different. I was very careful who I told about her condition. Only her very close friends called and looked out for us. Even most of her family was never told about her depression. That lack of support and openness made the recovery even more difficult.
Ana and I have tried to be open about her illness to people that we know and trust. Fortunately everyone that we have told about her depression has been very supportive. We have learned that many of the people around us have suffered from depression and we didn’t even know about it. Now Ana is able to support others because they know what she went through. Don’t let your fear of other people’s reaction prevent you from discussing your wife’s depression and depriving you of the much need emotion and physical support. You will be surprised to find out just how many people you know have dealt with or are dealing with depression.