Imperfect Solidarity

Being an Ally for people experiencing Postpartum Depression

When we see the presence of Postpartum Depression (PPD) in a new mother, we need to first accept and acknowledge that one of the likely causes of this feeling is the failure of modern society or her personal conditions to provide her help and support at a time she needs it the most.

There is a conflict when a person stands up to support someone who is experiencing PPD because the existing systems of thought do not align with the needs of the support seeker. Playing the role of an ally in this conflict is not easy and is often punctured by idealism and reality. This puncturing is what we call imperfect solidarity. The support provided, instead of being perceived as support, can come across as threatening or create chaos. On the other hand, silence in the form of support can be perceived as compliance. It seems sometimes there is no easy way around intention and action as perception and interpretation is subjective.

Through this article we will question the idea of showing up for your loved ones, and what we can do to get better at showing up, because it does not always feel good.

Is our ally-ship responding to her needs?

Many times as friends or partners we get so consumed with the ‘right’ way to help, that we don’t stop to ask what they actually need. Is there something about the situation they are ok with? What is the specific area of support they want us to operate in?

A parent who was struggling with PPD said, “I was tired of people 'helping' me by telling me what I should do. While there was a part of me wanting guidance, the same guidance was feeling in parts overwhelming and in other parts like I was falling short, as it was not obvious or easy for me.”

In such a situation, could we instead of telling them what to do, be a listener to explore what it is they are feeling and help them make choices that work for them?

Is our ally-ship making the lack of support in their home feel more stark and increasing the feelings of loneliness?

There is a distinction between PPD and baby blues. Most of the times when we see the presence of PPD, it is because of some past experiences, challenges and the paucity of support available. This is not a new feeling - they would have developed skills to beat this in unique ways as this is likely a magnification of an old feeling. If we can help them highlight those subconscious know-how’s, we can help them feel strong and not weak. If we show up with faith and belief in them, they might find it easier to search for it in themselves.

Who is it about?

When we step into the role of an ally, an important intention to question is “Why am I choosing to be this person?”

“What are my underlying values and beliefs that are making me want to be here?”

“Is being here more about being a crusader or making a point?”
“Have I shifted the focus from the person in need to myself?”

As your own intention to play this role becomes clear, you will be able to be more available with lesser prejudices.

Working on our own takeaways and making ourselves become better listeners is what makes it possible to navigate this space.

Join our conversation this week on Instagram, as we discuss in depth, the experience of postpartum depression, both for new mothers and their supporters.

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