How the Y helped me through my post-natal depression
No one warns you about the dark sides of motherhood and pregnancy. No one tells how you much you change physically and mentally after you become a mother, especially when everyone’s experience is different.
Isn’t it ironic that such an important and beautiful time, could potentially be the saddest and darkest experience of your life. It’s something we need to be aware of, we need to ask new mums how they feel even if everything seems fine.
How can you possibly feel sad and alone if you have a beautiful healthy baby, you are physically healthy and even look good without too many extra kilos after giving birth? It was something I always asked myself and it prevented me from opening up, asking for help and talking about how I was feeling.
I spent months smiling without really feeling happy. I was so upset with myself because I knew what happiness felt like but even when I wanted to be happy I couldn’t, it was like I was empty inside.
I remember one night my husband came back home and asked about my day. I looked at him and I cried, “It was horrible, the girls didn’t stop crying, the house is a mess and I am a mess!”
He replied, “Look at them, they are playing happily and that tells me you are doing a great job; they are not going to be little forever – this is a short period of time you need to be aware of.”
He was right, the kids were fine but I needed to do something for myself.
He encouraged me to make a goal of leaving the house every day, make new friends and to reactivate my membership at my local YMCA.
We searched for information about mental health during postpartum, it was then I understood it wasn’t my fault but I needed help. I didn’t go to a doctor and I couldn’t even step foot in a hospital because it was too much for me after having a traumatic birth experience. So I started doing things on my own and this is how my journey changed.
I decided to start participating in Body Balance classes at my local YMCA, twice a week. Every time my husband arrived home, I was at the door ready to leave, go to the Y and have some me time.
It was incredible how much better I felt after a Body Balance session. Body balance is a gentle workout which incorporates Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates to help improve flexibility, build strength and leave you feeling relaxed and calm and this is what it did for me. I realised every time I was doing the stretches I was reconnecting with my body again. Feeling muscles in my body I didn’t know existed, helping my mind and soul return to my body and start working together again.
In classes, I started talking to other people. I was amazed to see older people who were more flexible than me, cheering each other on.
This was great motivation and encouraged me to keep going. Through the classes I’d made new friends and felt like a part of the community.
Without realising it I was smiling again but this time I felt happy.
Written by YMCA Father’s Day Fun Run ambassador Margarita Alamo de Parkin