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September 2020, Baden, Switzerland

“Karima, what have you learned from overcoming your postpartum depression?”

»I was standing in front of the dishwasher, but instead of emptying it, I walked to the couch. Then I returned to the kitchen, then back to the couch, and this went on for 4 more times … almost every day. Was it not even possible that I could do this one simple task?

A few months ago, we had moved to a new village and shortly after that I gave birth to my daughter. I suffered from lack of sleep, felt lonely, and the fact that it was winter didn’t make it easier. When my husband came home after work, I expected him to spend time with me or drive me to town so I could meet other people. However, none of this worked out the way I imagined it would … until we reached a point when I didn’t care if we separated. We did a couples therapy, but we stopped because I realised that the problem was mainly about me and my way of thinking.
Finally, when our planned holidays were about to start, I didn’t find the energy to make it. There was this thought that overwhelmed me … that I was alone and would hurt myself. I knew that I needed help immediately. From that moment on I was in professional hands and my therapist gently taught me over months that I had to take personal responsibility. At first this made me angry because it meant that I could no longer blame anyone for my condition. I realised that sometimes I had acted too impulsively. If my expectations weren’t met and I was hurt, I could become toxic. Today I withdraw first – even if it is only for 15 minutes – and only then I would respond. I would recognise my feelings and pass them on to my counterpart so that he can answer calmly. These realizations have helped me a lot … they saved my marriage.

Nowadays, I allow myself to show weaknesses. Maybe the flat isn’t so tidy when someone comes over. And so it happened that one day I said to my therapist: ›Actually, I don’t know what else to tell you.‹ We both agreed that from now on there was no need for any more sessions, because after 2 challenging years I was finally considered to be officially recovered.«
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Today, Karima follows her childhood dream of becoming a paramedic. She still has a long way to go, but she feels ready for it. »I know that I want to do more for the community«, she says. »But my mother always told me that I have to take care of myself first. She’s right.«