The possibility of postpartum depression lingered in the back of Krystal Selinger’s mind during her pregnancy with her son, but she says her doctors were more concerned than she was.
“I wasn’t worried about it as much…because my pregnancy was amazing for me. I felt good and happy. But my doctors knew my past and told me I should be prepared for PPD and to ask for help immediately if I felt overwhelmed or depressed.”
Krystal was diagnosed with depression when she was 17 years old and bipolar when she was 26.
“At that point, I finally went on meds to help, not only my depression, but my manic episodes as well.
“Bipolar takes over your whole life. It’s not something you get a break from. You swing from highs to lows, and you are constantly keeping track of your moods to find warning signs for if you are on a high or a low,” she explains. Once you determine if you’re on a high or a low, you have to change your behaviour or way of thinking, she adds.
When Krystal is on a high, she takes on too many tasks that she can’t possibly finish.
“I have to recognize I’m on a high so I don’t agree to too many projects or recognize when I’m low so I don’t end up spending my days on the couch doing nothing. It’s a delicate balance that is always being adjusted.”
Krystal says having bipolar and being constantly aware of her emotions helped her deal with PPD.
“Of course, there were hard days, days I wanted to give up, but I was constantly aware of my emotions and could do things to help the depression once it crept up. And asking for help was one of those things.”
Krystal was not afraid to ask for help from her husband, her own mother, and her in-laws.
“I think I may have suffered from PPD, but I feel I handled it well because I recognized the warning signs of my own depression and because I asked for what I needed,” she says. “I asked for time to take a bath, go out with friends, go to the gym or even just watch some TV without holding my little man for a while. I realized that asking for time away from my son wasn’t me being a bad mom, it was me doing what I needed to do to be a good mom.”
And that is the advice she would give new moms: make sure you take care of yourself and recognize it is a strength, not a weakness, to ask for help.
“Be honest with yourself about what you are feeling and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. So many people, especially those who have never had depression or any other mental problem, feel like they need to hide the fact that they are depressed. They see it as a weakness, and it’s hard to admit that you are weak. Especially when you’re a new mom. But so many people go through what you are going through and it’s not something to be ashamed of. To be a good mom, you need to take care of yourself as much as you take care of your child.”
For Krystal, part of taking care of herself is helping others. A year ago, she started her business, The Errand Lady, where she literally runs people’s errands, such as buying their groceries, picking up prescriptions or dry cleaning – almost any errand you can think of. The job is a natural fit for her.
“I have spent my entire life volunteering my time at senior citizen homes, schools, after school programs and just simply helping those around me. I love to help, but I always find it hard to find the time. This way, I can make helping my job,” she explains. “I never feel like I’m ‘working’ when I’m running errands or helping people plan parties or organizing someone’s kitchen. I really pride myself on my customers feeling like they weren’t just paying for a service, but walking away feeling special and that their needs were listened to and taken care of in a caring way.”
If you think you are suffering from PPD, please contact the Saskatoon Health Region Postpartum Anxiety and Depression Support Group by phoning 3066557777.