You may already be, or you may become, a contributor to the depression by making some very common mistakes. Recognizing your mistakes and dealing with them honestly is essential to dealing effective with PPD. Some common mistakes that husbands make include:
· Comparing your wife to other women. Saying things like, “Why can’t you be more like Susan, she has it harder then you and she doesn’t spend her whole day in bed crying”.
· Getting angry with your wife. The frustration and disappointment that some men feel can change to anger that they take out on their wives. Yelling, threatening, and humiliating are some of the ways that the anger can express itself.
· Distancing yourself from your wife. For some men dealing with PPD is just too much for them and they find it easier not to deal with it at all. Ways men distance themselves from their wives include working longer hours, not coming home, not talking, etc.
· Trying to handle everything on your own. We can’t over emphasize the need to get quality professional help. We know that’s it is much harder to do then it should be but she deserves the best treatment you can find.
· Trying to talk her out of the depression. You may have a great philosophy towards life and feel like you know exactly what she needs to do to get out of the depression. However, comments like “all you need to do is …” or “Honey, of course you feel bad, look at how you spend your day just lying around all the time. What you should do is…” aren’t helpful.
· Not being open about your feelings.
· Ignoring the depression.
· Not making her health and the well being of your family your number 1 priority.
If you find yourself making one of the mistakes listed above, or some other mistake, be honest about it. After all, you were never trained to deal with PPD, and you certainly didn’t ask to be in the position you are in. Considering the stress you are under making mistakes is very natural. Admitting your mistakes, then correcting them is the best thing you can do for your wife and yourself.
Almost every night Sandra would start talking about all her worries right at bedtime. She was concerned about the kids, concerned about finances, concerned about work, and the list went on and on. I would go into long lectures to her about how things weren’t so bad and that she just needed to stop worrying. But my lectures didn’t do any good because the next night she would again launch into the same set of concerns which were all hopelessly difficult in her world. I finally told her I couldn’t take it anymore and that I didn’t want to hear anymore about her concerns. That was a mistake. After that she kept things inside and in retrospect I should have seen her withdrawing. A few days later she walked into our bedroom carrying a knife, saying we should all “go”.
After she got out of the hospital a close friend of hers called every night, right around bedtime. She was able to talk with her friend and share her concerns with her. Having that friend to talk to was a big part of Sandra’s recovery, and an huge help to me.
After seeing Tracy go through two previous episodes of depression I considered myself somewhat of an expert on knowing what to look for. I figured that there was no way that I would let the situation escalate as I had before. When she started having her third depression I was sure that it wasn’t like the other two. This one was different, and had more to do with her accepting who she was and adjusting to her limitation after a serious illness. I was convinced that she just needed counseling and time to adjust. Unfortunately when I finally did realize that she was actually seriously depressed and need medical help it she was deep into the depression and needed hospitalization. If I had really listened to her, and set aside my own judgments, I would have realized that she needed more then just my good advice. We could have saved a lot of pain and suffering if we had gotten help earlier.