Postpartum Depression: There is a Treatment

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Cordelia Gaffar is an author, speaker and mother of 6. This is her postpartum depression story.

It all started 16 years ago when I went to my six week appointment after my son was born.  feelI complained to my OB/GYN that I was feeling out of sorts. She readily prepared a prescription for antidepressants. 

That was my wake up call. “Did I really need antidepressants to cope with life?” I knew that I had some remaining grief from losing my parents in consecutive years just four years previous. I had also back to back miscarriages. Maybe that is why I gained so much weight during my pregnancy. Then it gripped me…

“I am 30 years old and will be fat forever!!!”

Oh the dread that overcame me. Then all at once, I remembered that I am the “I Can Do It Kid!” I can get through this. I need to find a way. I started to research how to deal with depression naturally and  found studies about the importance of niacin when growing a male child to accommodate the excessive testosterone in the mother’s body. I found foods like cashews, avocado and others with natural good fats could combat depression and later discovered also help with weight loss. I did further research for stress reduction and found exercise. Now I grew up with a dad who was an avid walker so I was not a gym rat. My idea of a good workout was a 5 mile walk. In my search, I found Pilates which I loved and weight training. Both of these options, gave me short targeted workouts to accommodate my new mom schedule.

So between exercise and diet change to support my mood, the hormonal changes in my body of having a boy and nursing, I was able to release all 63 pounds and overcome depression before he was walking. My son was an early walker at about 9 or 10  months.

My biggest issue was not being able to connect with my son. I became very mindful in each moment so that I could slow down and breathe. Then, I would recite prayers to him over and over again as I nursed or walked him. I made the walking and rocking into a dance. It became a healing for me and calmed him down. He wasn’t a good sleeper and loved being held constantly. There was also much reframing my perspective with sweet talk. No matter what was waiting, laundry dishes, my older child, who was 2 or getting to work on time, I created a time warp just for us. Eventually I stopped working for a several months and created more routines to connect while nursing.

People were impressed with my results and asked my advice. Some took it, some laughed at it, some said it is too much write a book. In all cases, that was the beginning of my journey and I did not do any of those things until about nine years later when I was expecting my fifth child.

In 2010, I started a blog to help me cope and give me a real mental reset to prepare for having five children after having established a great system of self-nurturing having four. What I was developing at that point was a journal and record of a duplicatable path…and ultimately the beginnings of my first and second books.

Even then I did not realize that this could be a viable coaching business for me until I had my sixth child and achieved the same results. When she was almost one, I decided to start coaching other moms, complete writing and publish my first book. In 2016, I started promoting my book by creating workshops and seeking speaking opportunities and finally live streaming. I continued to coach women also and refine my one on one coaching, developed group coaching and online courses, beta tested them.

Who knew that the pain of my postpartum depression would give me so much inspiration and life?

My coping mechanism became Workout Around My Day. Now, I am a Holistic Life Coach helping women to heal by building a system of self-nurturing nourishing with wholesome food, energizing with movement and reframing her perspective with sweet talk ultimately eliminating the cause of her health conditions and detox her body. I am also a speaker and travel to conferences.

Don’t let your depression swallow you whole. Live in each moment and look for the light. One day you could inspire someone too.

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Thank you Cordelia, so much for sharing your inspiring story about hope and recovery.

My Post Baby Body Journey- 11 Days Postpartum

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11 days postpartum

My mind: I have my good moments and my low moments. Sometimes the idea of going outside with a newborn is overwhelming but I know that staying in the house all day every day is bad for my mental health. My husband made me go for a walk around the block the other day which was nice and much appreciated. Still feeling anxious about him going back to work. I’m also feeling overwhelmed by my house. So much cleaning, so little time, so little energy.

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11 days postpartum

My body: Where do I begin? There’s been a lot going on! Well first off, my milk came in like crazy. Maxwell spent a day feeding and after that my boobs were uncomfortably humongous for days. I couldn’t even hug my kids which made me a little sad. In addition to that, breastfeeding has been hella painful. While the cramping had subsided, each feeding felt like he was biting my nipple. I used all the techniques my lactation nurse taught me but they weren’t working so I we went in for an appointment and was told that Maxwell was tongue tied. So it didn’t just feel like he was biting my nipple he literally was biting my nipple. Ouch!

Moving on, my pelvic floor is done. It hurts to crawl, I can hardly stand up in the morning, I can’t sit up without using my arms to support me, I can’t even lift my legs too far off the ground and I have to sleep with a huge pillow between my legs or else I’ll feel an unbearable pain in my groin area. Like they say, there is no rest for the weary. Now for my neck, it hurts badly and it is super stiff. I thought it might be from sleeping crazy because I fall asleep in all different positions these days but it turns out I hurt is breastfeeding. My little one is so cute I like to watch him while he eats and that has been straining my neck. The cure to all my pain issues, as prescribed by my doctor, has been heat and pain medicine. I don’t like taking pills but I am super unpleasant when I’m in pain and my family deserves to have the best version of me even while I’m healing. I’m starting to get my energy back, got to dance with my boys to some MJ today so that definitely makes taking some pills worth it.

My soul: I don’t know how my soul feels. I guess I need to do some soul searching…

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11 days postpartum

 

5 reasons I Found”A Wrinkle in Time” Affirming as a Grown-Ass Black Woman

When “Black Panther” came out my timeline was full of think pieces dissecting every aspect of Wakanda life from the wardrobe to different interpretations of single quotes from the film. Now we have “A Wrinkle in Time” and all I saw was an article about how “A Wrinkle in Time” is just as important as “Black Panther”. Now I am not one to make comparisons. “Black Panther” and “A Wrinkle in Time” are two totally different films. The only reasons why they get compared to each other is because they are both big budget Disney films directed by African American directors, featuring Black leads with strong Black female characters who are the smartest people in the universe, and also happen to be kickass warriors. Just a few similarities I guess but you probably already knew that. Since they are compared so much I figured “A Wrinkle in Time” was deserving of some more think pieces and sense I felt so inspired by the film I decided to write one myself. Here it is chock full of spoilers. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

5 reasons I Found “A Wrinkle in Time” Affirming as a Grown-Ass Black Woman:

w11. It affirmed my faults: Being pre-adolescent the main character Meg, like most girls her age, was plagued by her insecurities. As a result, she had no friends and was often bullied which only served to make her more insecure about herself. As she journeys through the universe the self doubt that was constructed by her low self-esteem hinders her at every turn until however, she acknowledges her faults, speaks them aloud and owns them in such a way that they could not be used against her by her attacker. This ownership of what she considered “faults” in the film resonated with me because it speaks to the power we gain when we stop hiding who we are and embrace our true selves. We are unstoppable when we are aware of our faults but just as secure in our virtues.

2. It affirmed that we have Black Girl Magic: Meg can fly. She understands physics (Lord knows I struggled in Physics in college). She can put her hair in a top-knot with no hair tie. It is her mother, Dr. Dana Murry’s, equation that made it so that her father could travel through the universe. However, her mother had the sense not to do it. Without even including Oprah Winfrey’s character, Mrs. Which, this film is dripping with Black Girl Magic.

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 3. It affirmed why we aren’t all openly trusting: We are pretty familiar with the Angry Black Woman troupe. We see it all the time and at the beginning of the film Meg could be perceived as just an angry black girl. Meg however, isn’t just an angry black girl, Meg has a backstory (like all girls that get plastered with that label). It is clear that Meg is hurting and the source of that hurt stems from the abrupt absence of her father. This is captured in a scene where Meg gets sent to the principal’s office for hurting one of her classmates and the principal begins talking about how she has “this wall up” and that she can’t use her father’s disappearance as an excuse for being guarded forever. However, it was this lack of trust that protected her from falling victim to the darkness when she was offered food that she felt skeptical about so ultimately did not to eat it. To me this exemplified how so often we have life experiences that diminish our ability to trust openly which can get in the way of opportunities at times. The film however acknowledges that our lack of trust in the world is coming from a real place and when exercised correctly can lead to self preservation, as it did for Meg. Like so many of us who have good reason not to be trusting as a means of self protection, when this self protection is utilized appropriately it actually serves as a tool for survival.

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4. It affirmed my natural hair: There is no denying the theme of embracing one’s natural hair throughout the film. Granted, the message might have been made more powerful if Meg had a curl pattern that was a bit less socially acceptable. Nevertheless, the evolution of Meg’s feelings towards her full head of curls sometimes frizzy, sometimes well defined was a super important thread throughout the film. I know that as a grown ass woman who has worn my hair naturally for the past five years I felt affirmed when Meg chose her curly-haired-eyeglass-wearing self (I also wear glasses) over the more trendily dressed, glasses free, straight haired option of herself she was presented with. Just to be clear, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with straightened hair or eye contacts and for the most part the dominant culture in our country does not either. Natural hair is not as widely accepted and in many ways has been under attack. That is why the storyline dealing with Meg’s hair throughout the film is so meaningful.  

5. It affirmed our ride or dieness: I recently saw Ava DuVernay on the talk show, “The Real”, and she described “A Wrinkle in Time” as a story about love. Based off the trailers I assumed it was about a daughter’s love for her father and vice versa but when watching the film I realized that it was about all types of love. The search for self love of course but there is also this maternal type of love that Meg shows towards her brother. Meg is ride or die for her brother. She shows this fierce sort of love towards him that her own father was not able to muster. To me Meg’s love for her brother speaks to our relentless and boundless capacity to love. It is this powerful relentless love that allows women to survive child labor, protect our loved ones, work tirelessly to support our families financially and just get shit done. Watching Meg’s love for her brother on the big screen was a nice reminder of how astounding our love can be.

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In closing, I would like to thank Ava Duvernay for her inspiring filmmaking. While “Selma” showed us what we were capable of doing in the past. “13th” painted a picture of the challenges we are up against today. Leaving “A Wrinkle in Time” to demonstrate how the power of love and trust in our youth can give us hope for a more liberatory future.