Today is World Maternal Mental Health Day and I want to dedicate this post to depression because all too often it doesn’t get dealt with early enough. Least of all in my home country, South Africa.
There’s several reasons for that but I think one of the reasons is that depression can hit you out of nowhere like a freight train. And while a freight train will pass along like a speeding bullet, depression can linger and become all encompassing.
It can be downright scary the depths that it can go to. I suffered from depression after my first miscarriage. It was also shortly after I got made redundant back in 2012.
I wasn’t really sure why it was happening or what the reasons for it were but I found myself anxious all the time, too depressed to do the most basic of tasks like doing the washing or even deciding to get out of bed that day. I wasn’t interested in anyone or anything and the things I used to love just didn’t excite me any more.
But thanks to my husband, my family (particularly my mom) I was able to get out of it after going for counselling and getting the right mix of antidepressants which worked after a couple of months.
I was lucky that my depression and anxiety was temporary. For others it can be a lingering battle and for some it can take years to figure out the underlying cause and getting the right help and treatment.
Few also know about the financial repercussions of having gone through and going through depression. The meds can be incredibly expensive and don’t even get me started on the cost of therapy, which can start from R800 an hour at the least.
Then the insurers weigh in on the whole thing too. When they hear you’ve been depressed they add a ‘loading’ – which basically means that you pay more in premiums for your life and disability cover as they deem you a higher risk.
Yes, it’s expensive being depressed which is probably why a lot of governments including ours in South Africa haven’t got the funds to provide adequate infrastructure and services to deal with people that suffer from depression.
It’s probably also why moms in particular don’t get the help they need. It’s just so unaffordable and the charities that do help out are stretched and understaffed.
That’s why I think it’s vital for moms not only to speak about their own depression but to speak out for those who can’t. Vote for a political party that has mental health front of mind. Lobby your local and national politicians to do more for their communities and to stop paying lip service to this national problem on days like today.
They’ve got to say what they mean and mean what they say. Let’s hold them to account and make sure that good mental health is not only something that the well off moms can afford.
Until politicians and those in power get their act together though – there’s things you can do. If you know someone is going through a hard time, be there for them. Treasure your friends, they’re probably all going through something. Ask them how they are, genuinely and sincerely. And if they open up, listen.