Self Help for Partners and Carers
If you feel that someone close to you may be experiencing postnatal illness or anxiety it is important they get help.
Some people find it hard to understand or explain their symptoms or they are unable to see rationally that things aren’t right. It’s often difficult to pinpoint the line between adjusting to becoming a parent and being affected by postnatal illness as the illness is not tangible.
However, if you feel something isn’t quite right, perhaps your friend or daughter has lost their confidence, is crying regularly or behaving out of character, it is important to try to encourage them to get help. Refer to the symptoms page if you’re not sure. If they are experiencing more than a few of those symptoms listed it is likely they are experiencing some form of PND.
It can be very challenging for a partner or someone close to someone suffering with PND. Seeing someone you love lose their confidence and in some cases become a totally different person can be really frightening. You want to ‘fix’ things and get frustrated that you don’t understand what is happening.
What do you say? Do you say anything? Do you ask questions or try to keep things as normal as possible? How can you help them without making things worse?
The tricky thing about PND is that no journey is the same for any two people. Symptoms can alter daily, even hourly. One minute your partner might be crying, the next she may be so angry that she blames you. You want to help your daughter but she won’t accept help, she has to do things her way even though she is exhausted – so what do you so? Insist and take over or follow her lead?
Through our own experience of PND and through meeting hundreds of sufferers we have compiled a list of advice for you:
- Understand PND is an illness. Seek help and do your very best to understand the illness. No one chooses to be this way, it isn’t their fault. It has happened, so empathise and try not to put unnecessary pressure on your loved one
- Be there, offer a shoulder to cry on, a hug when you come through the door. These little things will go a long way in assisting someone’s recovery
- Encourage the person to talk about their feelings. Try not to judge, listen, even if you can’t understand or relate in any way. Talking, talking and talking some more is great therapy
- Make things easier– hire a cleaner if you can, help in the kitchen, get the shopping, help with the baby or any older siblings. Take away all the ‘thinking’ a person has to do
- Encourage healthy eating – regular meals/snacks including protein, healthy carbs and good fats. This website has a list of nutrition and supplements to help with PND
- Encourage relaxation – some people will overload themselves with tasks and repetitive thoughts and completely exhaust themselves. Encourage them to take hot baths, have a massage, meditate. Even though they may not think these will help, they will. Refer to our self-help page for more ideas
- Be patient – recovery can take time and requires lots of support and understanding
- Remember, this may be a very difficult time and put a strain on your relationship, but PND is treatable with the right support
- Make sure you have time out for yourself, you need to stay strong so ensure you include relaxation time for you and talk to someone to off-load. Dads are welcome at our support groups or can join in the chat on our facebook page or by using the twitter hashtag #pndchat to connect with others