Kalyani is a mother of two and a homemaker.
“What on earth were you thinking?” I yelled at my 3 year old daughter. What was her offense? She thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if she inserted a small bead into her nostril. The bead got stuck deep inside and she couldn’t get it out. But why did that infuriate me so much? My husband was away on a business trip and I was all alone with my two kids, my younger one was only 6 months old. I would have to deal with this alone and it is no joy waiting for hours to be seen in Emergency with two kids, one under the age of a year.
As I yelled, I saw my daughter cower in fear. I stopped and thought to myself, “What have I done?” My very own child was afraid of me, I had become a “scary mommy”. I always believed in raising kids to listen and respect parents because they love their parents not because they are afraid of them. Where had I gone wrong?
It is called postpartum depression. How did this happen to me? I have no “medical” idea but I know what made it worse. My son had a lot of health issues, to add insult to injury, many members of “extended” family were telling me where “I” went wrong and what “I” could be doing better or differently. I received a lot of unsolicited advice which made my “mommy instinct” falter. When it came to these people, it was always “my” problem, which “I” had to solve, it never was “our” problem which “we” could solve together.
I tried to talk to my husband about the roller coaster of emotions I
was feeling, being wired differently because he is a man, he told me
to go to a doctor and “sort” myself out. I plucked up the courage to
speak to a doctor who also happened to be a male. He felt that my case was not “serious” enough to warrant medication/counseling. He told me that it is not about me any more, I have to get my “act” together for the sake of my kids. I failed to tell him that I had suicidal
Pregnancy had left me 28kgs overweight. I was tired, lethargic and
depressed. I didn’t go out to meet people, I stayed at home because I
didn’t have the confidence to face people. I hated going to parties as
it entailed sitting with a seam ripper the day before and opening
stitches on my sari blouses – a very depressing task. Something had to change, I needed an outlet for all the negative emotions – an outlet that wouldn’t hurt anybody.
I then came to a realisation, my “aha’ moment: as a mom, in order to
take care of those who matter to me, I need to take care of myself
first, I need to be at my best, mentally, physically and emotionally.
There was no “waiting for the right time”, I had to “make the time
right for me.”
I went back to the basics. I was very active in my college days,
swimming, playing badminton and going for aerobics classes – the one thing I remembered from that time was how happy I felt, little did I know it was all due to the endorphin “rush” I felt post working out. And that is what I was going to do: sweat out my anger, sadness and frustration. Literally sweat it out of me.
I decided to research into working out at home using at home workout DVD’s. I had a few reasons, it snows a lot where I live, I hated going to gym in winter, my husband travels a lot so when he is out of town, I had no one to take care of the kids so that I could go to the gym.
I made a lot of mistakes on my journey to overcome PPD, some 28kgs later, this is what I learnt:
1) I decided to create simple ways to ensure that my fitness routine
was achievable: I started with 10 minutes 3 days a week (anyone can
manage 10 minutes – it was mentally easier to convince myself to
workout for 10 minutes vs. 30 minutes).
2) I stuck a workout calendar on my fridge with boxes to tick off
every day when I had completed my workout – this was my reminder of what I had to achieve for the sake of my own sanity and that of my
3) There were times when I felt demotivated and questioned myself.
That is when I chose to focus on my secondary desires to keep me on
track. Secondary desires, you ask? Feeling healthy, feeling energetic,
knowing you are doing something good for your body and your mind, knowing you are one step closer to a healthier and stronger you, knowing you are setting a good example for those around you,
especially your children.
4) Sometimes, when my kids were sick and I had sleepless nights, I
often didn’t feel like working out the next day. That is when I would
remind myself that I am doing this for my kids and my workout is only 10 minutes long, I can do this. I accepted, mentally, that this was a process, I needed to do it in steps and not try to do all the steps at
once. I kept reminding myself that babies are not born running, they
get there gradually but it is all one step at a time, essentially,
5) I learnt that unhealthy eating habits can affect one’s energy
levels and moods – essentially, you are what you eat. I made a
conscious decision to keep my house “clean” – I stopped stocking up on junk food, as a mom, the key was setting a good example for my kids. I always ensured healthy snacks were handy when needed, for example, having fruit cut up and stocked in the fridge.
I consistently stuck with this – I changed my lifestyle and the
biggest take away for me was overcoming my postpartum depression without any medical help. I am a happier person, I never would have thought that I could feel this way about myself after being through depression. What I would like other mothers to know is that you can only give your best if you are at your best. Focus on self-care, it is, by far, the most important thing a mother can do for herself and her kids.
*This is Kalyani’s personal experience and not medical advise.