I had originally set out to write a researched entry on postpartum depression in single parents. I had hoped to find statistics, why it’s more prevalent in single parents, etc. I was not able to come up with a consistent reading on the matter. Everything was contradicting. One article claimed single parents suffered more than married, and the next stated the opposite. So, with this unhelpful information, I started to reflect on my own time as a single parent.
I am not a single parent in the traditional sense, as I am a happily married woman. However, being the wife of a United States Marine, I have experienced the single parent life. Long training field ops, late nights, early mornings, and deployments have created a single parent life for me, along with thousands of other military wives. It is part of the lifestyle that we have learned to accept, but that doesn’t mean we have to do it all by ourselves. There is a huge network of women out there for support, help, and friendship. You just have to reach out and find them.
The first three years of kiddo’s life, husband was able to be home on a pretty consistent basis. He was non-deployable at the time because he was an instructor at the LAV school-house. I was lucky to have him available more often than not during that time, as I suffered from what I consider to be sever postpartum depression. Not everyone is so lucky. Many women deliver their babies while their husbands are deployed, and single parent for the first few months of the child’s life. Even when they come home, they almost immediately go back into training for the next deployment. Add postpartum depression on top of the stress of a combat deployment, and it’s almost unbearable.
I was lucky to have him around, and I am grateful for that. When we moved back to the desert, I knew his training would start-up again, and he would deploy within a few months. We weren’t new to the area as we had lived here for 4 or 5 years before, and had some friends still around, but I felt alone and isolated. It was mostly my fault, as I have trouble with meeting new people. Even some new people who I met I didn’t really connect with on a personal level, so we just became more acquaintances than anything. However, almost as soon as my single parenting started becoming more consistent, my depression started to kick in again, and at full force.
Husband was gone for training for a month last year, and that is when it hit me the hardest. That was the time when I first experienced the real single parenting. I had to do everything myself, for a much longer period than I was used to. I was not over my postpartum depression, and being alone triggered it. There were so many days during that month where I just felt like a zombie, just going through the motions to make it through to bed time. There were almost many days I would find myself just sitting on the floor, crying so hard kiddo would come sit with me and put her arms around me. I felt so pathetic to have my 3-year-old daughter comforting me when I should have been the one to comfort her while her daddy was gone for the first significant amount of time in her life. With the sadness and crying came the suicidal thoughts. I have talked about this before, so I am not going to get back into it. I still have a hard time accepting that part of my life.
After husband came home, he was gone almost immediately for his fourth deployment, but it was his first since kiddo was born. I was worried about it, I had told husband about my crying and sadness (but not about the suicidal thoughts), and he suggested I go stay with my folks for a few months while we wait for a home on base to become available. I did that, and the time was a mixture of relief and frustration, dealing with the depression while living with my folks. I love my folks for allowing us into their home for a few months, but I needed to move back and get our own place, so when a home became available, I accepted.
The next few months were long. I had anxiety to the point of bailing on events I was to participate in. I even dropped out of college before I even started courses again because of it. On top of trying to help kiddo through her rough time, I am not sure how I survived. Scratch that, I do know. My friends.
I am not a social person. I have social anxiety that has become slightly easier to manage over the last few months, but it still gets in the way sometimes. During those few months while husband was deployed, and we were in our own home, I relied on friends through social networking. I sent a lot of Facebook messages. I hate the phone, as it is a trigger for my anxiety, so I try to avoid it. However, social networking allowed me to connect with my friends, and have that closeness and support that I needed. I knew they were there for me, and would be there in person if I needed them, and that was good enough for me.
Now that I am on medications again, writing this blog, and connecting with women who have suffered, I am not afraid of these times when he is gone. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s not life ending and detrimental to my life. I can cope, and I can thrive. I found what helps me through, and so can you.
Single parenting is hard, but it can be a little easier. You need to ask for help. Especially if you’re feeling depressed and sad. Do not be afraid to ask. It does not make you weak, it actually shows strength. It means you are accepting that you can not do everything on your own, especially with postpartum depression, or any kind of depression. Reach out to friends, look for blogs such as mine to connect with, find support groups, mommy groups, or anything that you think will help. The first step is the hardest, but it is worth it.
Please, if you’re a single parent, and suffer from postpartum depression, ask for help. Even if it’s through social networking, ask for help. You do not have to suffer alone, and you do not have to parent alone. Friends, family, support groups, etc are all out there. You just have to ask.
If you know someone who is single parenting, and suffering, reach out to them. It’s as simple as a text, Facebook message, hug, or a “How are you feeling?” Nobody should have to suffer alone. Take it from me, it’s not easy or fun, and not necessary.
If you know of single parent support groups, National or local, let me know. I can create a page with links, so they are easy to find.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!