The Seven Stages of Postnatal Depression


Hi all, Jackie Hall here. Today I wanted to personally talk a bit about postnatal depression, for this was what I was experiencing before I began training myself to think differently and before Real Mumma came along to help me through it.

The hardest part of anything we feel completely consumed by, is knowing where the best place to start is.

When I was going through my postnatal depression, I just felt like I was in this big giant black hole with no idea how to get out of it.

For me, I was too scared to let anyone know how I felt. I was always ‘the achiever’, the ‘organised one’, the ‘one that held it all together’. There’s no way I could’ve let people know what I was going through. The brave face was what other people saw, but behind closed doors, falling apart was my reality.

Looking back now, I can see that it was extremely difficult to know which way was up and exactly what I needed to do to get out of that hole and now, as a professional coach for people with stress, depression and anxiety, I can see that at the beginning of our sessions, they too are in the same place I was.

The good news in all that, is that I did come out of it and, as Real Mumma (my alter-ego voice of reason) became more prominent in my mind, we began to formulate a way for others to begin to change and recover from postnatal depression. This became our progressive 12-week postnatal depression recovery program.

What seems to be occurring with all the clients that we work with, is a distinct pattern emerging from the time you begin your recovery journey, to the time where you are in a completely different mindset about the events of your past, present and future and have recovered (or on the road to recovering) from your postnatal depression.

Stage One – Understanding

The first stage of recovery seems to be the UNDERSTANDING of the postnatal depression – why you ended up with it in the first place. Of course you are given the obvious understanding that it’s your brain’s chemical imbalance and a lack of serotonin in the brain etc etc and there’s no debating this reality. However there’s a lot more to it than that, as I’ve explained in a previous post – Events don’t cause postnatal depression

Fundamentally, what causes postnatal depression is your perception of life. Now that’s not to say that you are thinking wrong, leaving you feeling guilty and to blame for how you feel, because that’s not what I mean.

Everyone has a perception of life that comes from their beliefs about life. These beliefs about life have been formed as a result of the experiences you’ve had leading up to this current moment.

Primarily as a child you have learnt how to view your world and your role within it. Over time, after being exposed to the same information about life, you adopted a specific belief system in the form of physical neural connections in the brain.

Think about how innocent and naïve a child can be. If you have adopted an inaccurate view of life and self-worth from that young age, it is often still present in adulthood and that is still playing out, causing the onset of postnatal depression (and thus the chemical imbalance in the brain). These beliefs can often lay dormant in you until certain events trigger and challenge those beliefs, which is often why depression doesn’t occur until you become a parent.

This isn’t your fault, as you can only know what you know and you’ve not been conscious of this belief system until now. What it means though, is that you need an education on how to perceive yourself and life’s challenging events in a different way, which is what I teach in my program.

So the first stage of recovery is the UNDERSTANDING that YOU ARE NOT BROKEN!. There is a physical reason for your depression and that’s the neural connections in the brain. In actual fact, your brain is operating in the exact way it is meant to – responding physically (ie chemically) as a direct result of how you perceive life.

Stage Two – What are the beliefs causing depression

The second stage of recovery is the UNDERSTANDING of how this specific belief system of life and self-worth have been set up and how it continually plays out in your current life as you experience what you do.

These first two stages alone are usually hugely insightful and really get your attention. Often for the first time in your life, you are feeling like it makes complete sense why you have suffered postnatal depression and finally you begin to see a glimmer of hope, that you may not have to just ‘cope’ with postnatal depression – that perhaps there is a way to stop it altogether.

Stage Three – Learning how to change your thinking

Which brings me to the third stage of recovery – learning a method of changing your thinking patterns. Acknowledging how you got where you are now, is a massive start, but changing is the difficult and challenging part, and the part that requires a lot of work.

What you are learning in this stage is a way to actually change the physical neural pathways in the brain by consciously feeding your brain new information over and over again (in the same way these neural pathways were set up in the first place that created your current thinking). The learning of the method can be the easy bit, but the application of the learning requires commitment, persistence and consistent application.

This is why I have made my approach with The Postnatal Depression Recovery Programso progressive and provide support through the member’s Q&A Forum while you learn. Sometimes you may need an objective perspective to take the application of new information to a deeper level of understanding.

Stage Four – Does it really work?

The fourth stage of recovery that I’m noticing comes usually after a bit of a blow up, or a challenging event where you start to believe that you’re not going to get past this particular event or concern and where you may need extra support at seeing it from a different perspective. This is where after being able to see how effective the method is when applied to that tough event, you are now at a point where you realise that this method can be applied to EVERYTHING.

Stage Five – Euphoria – a new lease on life

After that comes the fifth stage of recovery – Euphoria. Living on cloud nine, I call it. You will feel amazing for the first time in a long time. Clarity, self-love, understanding and a pure enjoyment of life is how the world is perceived for a period of time. The hold that the old thinking had on you seems to be starting to dissipate and you are really starting to see that you want to start living and enjoying life again. You feel like the depression is finally lifting.

this stage is kind of like how you feel after reading a really good book. You feel hope. You feel inspired.
You feel like: “Yeah, I’m going to start living my life. I’m not going to feel bad anymore!”

Stage Six – An equilibrium – The reality that this method is an ongoing practice

The sixth stage of recovery is often where you come down from the euphoria, head on into another event that makes you perceive (with your old thinking that still hasn’t been completely, habitually replaced by the new yet), that life has gone wrong again. However, you never go back to where you were, because you now have a new reference point for how you can feel by applying the new information that you’ve learnt. But what you get from this stage of your recovery, is the experiential understanding that happiness, as a permanent goal, is elusive.

You realise that happiness is an emotion you feel when life is going to plan, but the reality is that you will not always feel happiness. Sometimes you will experience unwanted events, but that doesn’t make your life wrong – unenjoyable maybe, but not wrong. You apply the ‘upgrades’ to your thinking and understand that all events provide you an arena of learning and growth and that your self-worth is not attached to your unwanted events. It’s simply just a reality of life.

After experiencing this challenging event, you then move onto the seventh and final stage of their recovery.

Stage Seven – Acceptance

You begin to accept life’s ups and downs. You begin to accept and understand other people’s behaviour. You can accept the value and appreciation that can be taken from ALL events, and finally, most importantly, you begin to accept yourself as being 100% worthy and valuable JUST THE WAY YOU ARE – that there is nothing you need to do, be or have in order to be more worthy than you already are. You begin to accept that you have always been 100% worthy, you’ve just never been shown enough evidence until now.

Instead of the experience of euphoria and happiness (which is often what we think we want), you begin to experience a sense of peace about life..

These seven stages of postnatal depression is what makes for a full recovery. It won’t be about getting life (or parenthood) right. It won’t be about achieving every little thing you set out to do, or being the perfect parent. Realising that you are worthy just by being you, exactly as you are – the person who makes mistakes, learns, grows, experiences good times and unenjoyable times and knows that there is value and experience in it all – this is what will accelerate your recovery.

The Postnatal Depression Recoverywill take you on this journey over the next 12 weeks, if you are ready to start working towards your postnatal depression recovery, so check out our program if you’re not sure how it works, because pretty soon you could be finding your way into the peace that you are looking for.