I talk to a lot of men who admit they experience depression directly after birth. Once the baby has come home, the reality of the situation hits. And it hits hard.
I’m not a fan of the term ‘post natal depression in men’ it’s a mislabelling. Men do not experience the physical and emotional trauma women go through to bring a child into the world. Saying men experience the same is to suggest their post baby depression is somehow directly linked to the child. This incorrect diagnosis has ramifications. Because when men see their baby as the sole cause of their depression. It’s an open door for resentment. And absolutely nothing good comes from a man who resents his kid.
‘Depression, yes. But it’s usally caused by the adjustment of bringing a baby home, the realisation of the consequences of having a baby compounded by sleep deprivation.’
Most of the time, children are not planned. It’s a life event that leads us into an emotional upheaval. I’m not taking anything away from what women experience. But we face our pressures too. And we either learn to swim or get dragged by the undertow into all sorts of problems.
When I began connecting with other dads in the early days, I was surprised to learn how many parents of multiples break up in the first few years of parenthood. But I understand why it happens. Sadly, it’s a fact of such a stressful deal.
But it’s not just a problem that occurs with multiple children coming home. Dad’s of singletons also break under the strain of an unexpected new road. One that changes the dynamics of everything. I’ve known men who suffered jealousy that all their partners’ attention shifted from them to the baby. They couldn’t handle their esteem no longer getting regularly fed and the loss of attention due to the natural connection of mother and child. It’s selfish and wreaks of self-pity. But it happens nonetheless.
There’s no escaping the fact that the adjustment is tough going. But the struggle is one that needs to be overcome. We all lose the life we once had, There’s no more time to live the kind of existence we experienced when there were no children involved. Our freedom, to an extent, is taken away, and our relationship with our partners changes. All our focus must now be on the job at hand. And it’s work that will continue for the rest of our lives.
I don’t believe a man could have a greater purpose given to him than the privilege of fatherhood. It forces us to grow up. To become the men we were born to be. In the face of such massive responsibility, we find the meaning of life. And we have to adapt because nothing gives a child a greater chance in life than two parents working together to raise a child in a loving home. As I’ve learned, it takes work, commitment, and a willingness to evolve.
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