Movies make the journey into fatherhood look great.
Those silver screen dads get to welcome their little one with pride and confidence.
All the awkwardness, worry, and sleepless nights are rolled into a three-minute cinematic montage — complete with happy music and the sense that, together, he and his partner are a great team who pull it all together in no time.
But in reality, a lot of dad’s don’t feel confident.
Many new moms do not naturally take to motherhood.
The baby blues can become bleaker, driving a wedge between them.
What does a new dad do when no one sleeps?
Nothing calms down.
And no one is happy?
How does he deal when no one really understands that postnatal depression can rob the joy of parenting from a father too?
Depressed Dad: Is this really happening to you?
The truth is, postnatal depression does happen to men.
And it deserves attention.
Before you convince yourself that you either aren’t that bad off or you can handle it on your own, consider the following symptoms.
1. You feel overwhelmed and out of control
You may feel trapped, like you can’t cope with much more disruption.
The crying and new routines are irritating, and you feel generally annoyed and defeated.
The visiting family is asking too many questions and is too much underfoot.
The pressure to work more weighs on you as you contemplate the future.
Everything seems too out of sorts and you feel helpless to restore any normalcy.
2. You physically can’t seem to rebound.
You can’t get shake the exhaustion.
You may feel bone-tired.
Your sleep is disrupted and provides little, if any, real rest.
No matter how much sleep you get, your body just wants more.
Headaches and physical pain wear you down.
Your appetite surges or simply drops off altogether.
Your sexual appetite takes a dive as well.
3. You begin to resent your partner’s postnatal depression.
You may be feeling thrown by your wife or partner’s sadness or out-of control emotions.
Blame and negative thoughts directed at her may creep in as you wonder how you will manage work, home, and baby without her full involvement.
Persistent feelings of disappointment or abandonment may plague you due to her inability to embrace parenting or focus on you and your feelings.
4. You want to get away.
You may begin to withdraw and isolate.
Work may become an excuse to avoid your partner, baby, and loved ones.
A desire to escape and loneliness may make you susceptible to attention from other women.
You might begin to think your family may be better off without you.
5. You find yourself in ”fight mode.”
You sometimes feel aggressive or concerned about moments of actual rage.
Anger and hostility may start to creep into your response towards you partner, child, family, or friends.
You worry that, in a weak moment, you could lash out violently.
6. You flirt with danger and destruction to cope.
In an effort to manage your emotions, you find yourself drawn to risky or out of bounds behavior. You seem prone to physical, financial, or recreational activities that leave you or your family vulnerable.
You may also notice a new or increased use of drugs or alcohol to help manage the feelings of helplessness or powerlessness.
Do you recognize that these symptoms are stealing your joy of fatherhood?
Give yourself a break.
You are not alone.
Movie screen dads are a myth.
Give yourself permission to seek the help of someone who understands.
You’ll be better for it.
You partner will love you for it.
So will your child.