Friday, March 27, 2015

PPD Tip: The Art of Listmaking

I learned this trick from Postpartum Depression for Dummies by Shoshanna Bennet. That book was my bible during my recovery. I highly recommend it. In fact, I think there should be a copy of it in the waiting room of every ob/gyn and pediatrician.

The book taught me so much and helped me kick PPD in the ass. I had a lot of anxiety and Dr. Bennett's tips for making lists helped me manage that anxiety.

First, make a Master To Do List. Put everything that is nagging you on this list. Are you already stressing about holiday presents? Put it on the list. Worried about choosing a high school for your newborn? On the list.

Then put the Master To Do List in an accessible but out-of-the-way place. I kept mine in a drawer in a nook near the master bath. Accessible but I had to open the drawer to see the list. Also, I made this list with a pen and paper. Easy.

Every night, before bed, I made my Daily To Do List for the next day. I put 3-5 items on this list. For the first several months of my recovery, I always had "take a shower" on the list.

I never put something massive, like "clean the house," on the list. I put small bite size tasks on the list instead, like "go through the mail pile and toss junk mail." Was I going to clean the entire house in a single day? Fuck no! But could I maybe sort through a stack of junk mail while Pippa did tummy time? Sure.

I didn't always accomplish all the items on my daily list. When that happened, I proudly crossed off the item anyway.

Two or three times a week, I checked my Master To Do List. Gradually I crossed things off that list. Sometimes I added to it. The list calmed me because I knew that once I put a task on the list, it would eventually get done. I was not going to forget to buy Christmas presents damnit because it was on the list! (True story.)

As I recovered, I forgot about the Master To Do List. I checked it less frequently and then one day, I dug it out of the drawer and realized I didn't need it anymore.

Same thing for the daily lists. One day, I realized I didn't need the lists anymore to feel like I was in control of my life.

Now I keep lists intermittently when I feel like I'm juggling a lot of balls and don't want to drop something important. I also have some To Do lists saved on my computer but they are fun lists, like "craft projects to try" and "projects to make the house pretty."

Lists really helped me manage my anxiety. If your PPD is stirring up a ton of anxiety, I recommend you give this strategy a try. Remember to include something fun on your Master List, like "pedicure" or "brunch with best friend."

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