Titilope is on the verge of putting to bed, she and her husband had waited in bated breath for the EDD – expected day of delivery. This is not her first, in fact, during her last child delivery, the birthing process was effortless, as if she was midwifed by one of the biblical Hebrew women. Being a part of the Southwest extraction in Nigeria, the naming ceremony must hold a week after delivery, Aso-Ebi has already been chosen, and an event planner has been contacted. She never changed her hospital, same doctor and nursing staff so far. This would be like a walk in the park…so she thought.
Then, tragedy struck. Few days to delivery, her paternal uncle became a victim of a plane crash. He was instrumental to her academic career, as he provided emotional, moral and of course financial support for her. Titilope is badly hit, family tried to keep the news away from her pending the child delivery, but the unfettered access she has to social media played a fast one on them. She goes into premature labour.
Though the newborn child fared well, but the aftermath of her loss wreaked havoc on Titilope, initially they all thought it was just a phase, it will ebb away soon. This time shall pass.
However, it lingers, dawning on everyone that this is not a mere Baby Blues, she is later diagnosed with a severe form of depression; Postpartum Depression.
Spasmodic fatal occurrence(s) triggers imbalances in the body stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, instigating symptoms likely to be associated with aggravated mental health conditions like depression. The trigger effect is expected to fall back to normal when such danger subsides. It happens to escalate in Postpartum Depression sufferers. Accelerated drop in the estrogen and progesterone hormones after delivery terribly increases the chances of experiencing Postpartum Depression. Most of our nursing mothers also have their fair share of Baby Blues in their incipient days after delivery, Yoruba people call it Abi Siwin.
According to mayoclinic.org, Baby Blues usually ease off within a limited timeframe, at times within a couple of weeks. Sufferers are counseled to get enough rest, accept help from family and friends, and connect with new mums, creating time to take care of themselves, while avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs that sparks mood swings.
In the case of Titilope, the tragic occurrence might have inflated her issue leading to Postpartum Depression, an acute one. It is a psychological ailment that plagues the mind gradually, metastasizing, alters the subliminal with sadness, loss of concentration, moody thoughts, bouts of mea culpa, loss of energy, loss of interest, unworthiness, suicidal thoughts and so on. It results in people switching from a rational being to irrational.
The human brain, according to Robin Royston a psychiatrist and an author, ‘have developed a ‘laterality’, so that some processes are carried out on the left side (for example, language, reading, writing and talking), while others are performed by the right side of the brain (for example, artistic abilities). The two sides usually work together, and ‘co-operate’, but they can be in opposition. Somewhere, in the middle of this complex system of thinking and feeling are our memory circuits. No wonder the mind is so prone to conflict’.
Postpartum Depression could be salvaged, but sufferers have to come to terms that they need to be helped. It has to be determined through a thorough mental evaluation by a psychotherapist. Sufferers must be sincere during this evaluation and mental health counselling/psychotherapy process, as better ways would be shared in which one can cope with these feelings. Antidepressants that stabilizes moods can also be prescribed by mental health professionals, after test has been conducted to diagnose if there are inherent hormones in their body system that spikes the chances of depression.
Nursing mothers can take medications as prescribed by her obstetrician/gynecologist, there are medications suitable for them that won’t impede lactation or breastfeeding.
Nevertheless, the major support that determines their quick recovery is the emotional and moral support. The moment they start manifesting these signs, empathize with them. They could be in self-denial, or avoiding people prying into their private lives, loathing the feelings of sympathy from others, however, that shouldn’t deter us in winning their confidence and helping them nip this monster called depression in the bud. ‘Get a grip on yourself!’ It’s easy to say, but it’s not that easy for sufferers. We should not be troublesome comforters like the friends of the scriptural Job.
Overtime, Titlope is expected to beat all odds, overcoming this ‘demon’, by being honest to herself, her yearnings should be borne out of the urge that she needs help; internalizing that conviction, while she maintains hundred percent sincerity with her counsellor/therapist, though this can never be achieved overnight, but with consistency and concerted efforts, in addition to the all-round support provided by husband, Segun, and close-knit relatives, she would get the controls of her psyche back.
– Shemilore Jegede