I will continue with teaching common distortions that can apply to the experience of depression, including postpartum depression. There are three common distortions that mothers and fathers tend to experience.These are jumping to conclusions, catastrophizing, and personalization.
Jumping to Conclusions
Some people call it mind reading, basically, it is the idea that without directly being told, we assume what others think of us. In mom world, its a painful picture. Mom #1 doesn’t have any snacks in her diaper bag, she assumes that others are judging her and thinking negatively of her as her baby is crying. She walks into the donut shop and buys herself a latte and oh yeah, a donut for her 7 month old. That is a good mother in my opinion. In the hands of a postpartum depression, that mother believes she is terrible.
Now, let us return to Jumping to Conclusions distortion: Are mothers judging her? Usually, they are too busy thinking about how they appear, their babies, too tired, etc. Rarely are they actually thinking of Mom #1. If they are, well, you do not want to be friends with that mother anyways… right?!
This distortion is all about skipping the middle ground and assuming the worst will happen. Usually the worst will not, usually it is somewhere in between the worst and not so bad. For example, what if my baby falls down the flights of stairs? It is a thought, it may disrupt your daily routine, invade in the quiet moments. Your work is to be curious about that thought? And allow it to be there. Almost befriend the thought, and then breathe. Not to allow yourself to sit in it, but also not to push it away, the goal is to move with it, to observe it, to be curious about it.
This is an interesting one, all these terms are somewhat self-explanatory, but it is important to have tools to choose other thoughts. When we personalize, we assume external events are our fault somehow. This one is a big one for mamas. I am going to be the first to tell you: Your baby is born with his or her personality. If your baby is stubborn and will not sleep train, then she or he will not be sleep trained, no matter how hard you try. It is his or her personality. This one is really tricky for moms, because we blame ourselves for our child’s behaviors, when in actuality, no matter who raised them they would still display many of these behaviors.
Case in point, I have a friend who never met her father. Her mother stated that my friend, age 39, has her father’s personality traits. How could this be so? Because she was born with them. Or did you ever see that show with the couple who had 17 kids? Two people, same house, same neighborhood, same family with 17 children with very distinct and different personalities. We are born with our temperaments, do not try to kill that one in your child. If she is stubborn and bossy, welcome Sheryl Sandberg CFO of Facebook, who was always told she is stubborn and bossy and now is a world leader for women everywhere and CFO of a major company. Your child just might be the very next CFO of a multi-billion dollar corporation. Hooray.
Trying to do it all and expecting that it all can be done exactly right is a recipe for disappointment. Perfection is the enemy.-Sheryl Sandberg