Hakomi therapy teaches that when someone else can help you carry your load, or hold some of the stress with you or for you (even for a moment), that can really free you up to heal and take care of yourself. This is true in practical terms, such as when someone holds your newborn baby, you are free to shower, stretch, rest, eat and recover. It is also true in emotional terms. When you can share with someone else such feelings as doubt, sadness, guilt, fear, and anger, having the other person hold your strong feelings with you can help you feel like you can let them go a bit and focus on taking care of yourself and helping yourself move towards feeling better.
You’re probably familiar with the expression, “it takes a village to raise a child”. Well, this is true 100%, and who of us lives in a village? So people in today’s world need to find ways of simulating the benefits of living in a village. Fewer and fewer families live in the same living quarters as their parents, grandparents and other extended family. If you have family who lives nearby and who is helpful and supportive to you, you are one step ahead of many of us. This is why birth doulas and postpartum doulas now have a large place in our culture. It used to be that the women of your family and your village accompanied, guided you and supported you through the transition into parenthood. In addition, many women who need to work to support their families have had their parents take care of the little ones while they worked. But again, most of us are not so lucky as to have such support. So, we need to find the support in other ways.
Dr. Shoshana Bennett describes below how to go about deciding whom to open up to emotionally and who to ask for help with your shopping, cleaning or childcare:
As you consider whom in your life to open up to- and exactly how to do that- you may find it useful to begin by taking a step back and considering the broad range of people and relationships that are already in your life. No doubt a great diversity exists among these people and relationships.
For instance, one person may be great at shopping for you or vacuuming your carpet, but lacking in the emotional department. Another person may be your patient walking buddy who helps you get dressed and out of the house, but she may be a bad babysitter or terrible at housework.
By making educated guesses as to who will be emotionally receptive and who will be able to offer the kind of support you need, you will have taken an important step both toward conserving and maximizing your available energy and toward getting the help you need and deserve (Bennett, p.244, 2007).
Once you give it some thought try to figure out who in your life would be helpful in which ways. One of the best ideas might be to reach out to one good, stable friend and tell her that you need her to be your go-to person. She does not need to do everything for you, but she can be the one to help you find the help you need. When you are depressed it can feel quite overwhelming to need to organize anything. You want to choose someone who knows you well, and who has the same outlook on health and psychology as you do, or at least someone you trust to support you in your choices. Your go-to friend can help sift through the information in books and on the Internet and help you figure out what options may be best suited for you. She can help you make phone calls or even go with you to an appointment or two. She can also organize other friends and family to help you in other ways that you may need.
Another suggestion is to ask a true friend to check in with you on a regular basis, either by phone or in person, about your emotional wellbeing. This person might be the same as your go-to person, or it can be a different person all together. She can go with you on a daily or weekly walk. Having more people on your team, if they are beneficial to you, I mean if they give to you rather than take during this difficult time, can be wonderful.
Some people prefer to keep their support team small, or may only have a few close friends/family, and that’s fine too. Just make sure that you get the support you need one way or another. Members in your support team can give you encouragement, hold your baby, cook you food, and make sure you are taking steps towards self-care. By asking people to help you, you are giving them permission to ask the same of you when they need help. So do not feel guilty about it, but see it as an opportunity to grow in your relationships.
Even if your marriage or relationship with your partner is strong you must get additional outside support. Your entire support needs cannot depend on your partner. Even the most amazing partners need their own support too. Your husband may be superman, but if you are worn down, then he is worn down. And if you have had a baby in the last year, then most likely, you are both worn down.
There is no shame in reaching out and asking people around you for extra help. If they’ve had a baby they’ll understand on some level, even if they did not feel depressed, and if they do not understand or have never had a baby, just say “I’m needing extra help right now.” You’ll be surprised to know how many people are often very happy to help, but just do not know what to do.
One example of support might be to sign up for a meal-train at www.mealtrain.com and invite all of your friends, acquaintances, and family to help you out. People often have another friend of theirs set up the actual meal train. This is a simple task you can ask of someone to do for you. Bringing you a meal is often a small deed for someone else, but it can feel like a huge help to you, especially if people bring enough food for you to have leftovers for lunch the next day. Food has always been a way people nourish each other and show their love and care.
If you have the financial means, then getting paid support might be an option for you. Some options are post-partum doulas, psychologists, or even a massage therapist. Ideally, your treatment team will consist of at least two people in addition to you. That might be your mother, your husband, your best friend, or a professional of some kind. You might have a person who you look up to already in your life. Think about giving it a try, she might not mind if you reach out to her.
Give all of these ideas some thought and take a step forward. Vulnerability has the power to bring friends and family closer together. Create the support team that you need in your life, even if this looks like one good friend. Step out of your comfort zone and ask for the help that you need. Feeling supported, held, and loved by people who are close to you can really help lift your spirits. However, people around you cannot know what you need from them if you do not tell them. So pick up that phone or write an email, and express your needs, your feelings, your hopes and your desires, to help you achieve a complete recovery from ppd.
I bless you with healing, joy, health, support and celebration.
Love, Rachel Sacks