One of the most depressing things about being depressed is being depressed on your own.
Let me say it another way: isolating yourself when you are depressed can make you feel much worse than you already do.
Now, we all know that it is hard for a person with depression to ‘put on their happy face’ and to go out and socialise with, or mix with others. We fear the judgement or the lack of understanding and besides, it’s far more effort than what it’s worth!
So, what to do, what to do?
I have recently joined a Postnatal Depression Support Group which is one of the support structures offered by SADAG (South African Depression and Anxiety Group).
It felt a bit awkward at first and I wasn’t sure what to expect.
Would we have to share our stories? Would we be expected to give regular feedback on how we are doing? Would there be some kind of accountability/mentoring? Would there be teaching or skills given that would help me in my journey through blue? Or would it just be a coffee and tea catch-up with other mommies like me?
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was all of the above! Support groups are hugely beneficial. Why?
Benefits of Group Counseling
- You are not alone. Groups provide support and make you realise that there are others who experience similar challenges. You are not as different or alone as you think.
- Groups provide a sounding board. Groups can offer a different perspective. You can receive support and share your wisdom as well .
- Groups can help you move forward. Hearing from others on how they’ve overcome can be encouraging. During the group experience you will likely meet people representing a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. Listening and learning from every member’s perspective provides you with a greater insight into your own personal growth and development.
- Groups promote social skills. While it is common to feel anxious prior to attending your first group, you will soon feel relieved and more comfortable as the meetings progress. Remember, it takes time to feel comfortable speaking up in a group, to adjust to group norms, and to experience the benefits of group. It is important that you share at your own pace.
- Groups are often free. For those of us with no medical aid or low finances, groups are literally a Godsend! Most are provided as a community service and you are not limited to a set number of visits.
- Groups teach you about yourself. Groups can be a way of uncovering the areas that may be blocking your ability to overcome your issues.
In my experience, it is SO good to go and meet up with other moms who struggle with PND just as I do! While sharing is not compulsory, I see how each meeting we all start a little hesitantly and then progress to a full throttle share-a-thon! It is such a relief that have that confidential space where you can share your struggles, doubts and deepest fears with others who FULLY understand and to be able to do so without the fear of judgement.
In many ways it is a cathartic experience for all of us who attend.
I come away from each group meeting feeling encouraged and lighter and with a bit more hope for the day and the journey ahead.
Moms, I really encourage you to do some research and find out if there is a postnatal/postpartum support group in the area near you. You won’t regret it! Looking back you will see just how it was an important part of your healing journey.
If you run a group, or know of such a group near you, please give us the details in the comments below.
I have put the details of the group I attend on the “Hope” page.