Anniversary Dates Can Trigger Sadness And Bittersweet Memories For Some Moms

Anniversary dates, whether they are for weddings, birthdays and other occasions, are typically recalled with delight. But in some cases — let’s say a marriage that has turned sour… the reminder of the original date can bring memories more bitter than sweet.

In the case of birthdays, especially if the mom experienced postpartum depression (PPD), the recollection of that time – which society insists should be one of the most joyful in our lives – is instead tinged with sadness.

In my own case, which I discuss in my book in the chapter, The Healing Effect of Your Narrative, when the birthday of my son popped up on the calendar, the date sent me back to painful recollections. When I look at old pictures of myself holding my infant son, I’m aware I was physically present but emotionally detached and joyless.

If only I had known then, what I have learned through my years of experience in treating perinatal depression and anxiety disorders, my photo browsing might still have traces of sadness, but it would be accompanied by a renewed sense of self-esteem and pride in my recovery.

In my treatment of women with PPD, we address those lost moments and painful memories. We discuss how anniversary dates like a first birthday can be bittersweet. And, we explore the need to grieve the loss of the way it was supposed to be and mourn the moments that are gone forever.

Finding meaning in the experience requires several steps:
• Processing the PPD episode.
• Enduring the lost expectation of a perfect pregnancy and birth event.
• Discovering something significant in the experience.
• Talking with others about the experience.

The last step is an essential part of the healing process. Many women are reluctant to reveal their bout with PPD because they fear they’ll be judged as unstable or bad mothers. They may believe they will be compared to mothers who harm their children or themselves, in those rare cases of women with postpartum psychosis.

But if sharing our story, our narrative, is ignored, we are left with a sense of shame and futility about the illness. Acceptance, and working through the experience and feelings associated with it, helps us be more than just symptom-free, but whole and fully recovered.

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~ by ppdsus on October 24, 2013.

One Response to “Anniversary Dates Can Trigger Sadness And Bittersweet Memories For Some Moms”

  1. Susan makes a good point. My third son died of a rare congenital heart defect. At the time everyone was supportive at that time. But the first anniversary of his death was an incredibly difficult time, and I felt totally alone in my misery.

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