🌑 Oleksiy Kovyrin. Post-pardum depression in dads, how to spot and what to do about it.
Rad Dad, hosted by Kirill Zubovsky
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Full episode transcript -

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When Alex, his daughter, was first born, he didn't feel the love for his child. Quite the opposite. He felt that his daughter was the source of the problems. And while he was supposed to be able to give his life for her, she was taking their life away. Full of those difficult thoughts and busy at work, he was unable to share them with anyone, even his wife. I'll actually went to work to provide for his family. And he played with his daughter because he knew he had to, but he didn't enjoy it. Eventually, this feelings went away, but it took a long two years of really dark thoughts. This is

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his story. I was born in Ukraine. Uh, actually back they're onto us US asylum. But it was part of the Soviet Union, and I was born in a family with really limited resources. Uh, that man that I really didn't have much opportunity back there and and I had to work really hard to since I was a child toe get anywhere. I had to work hard in school. Then I had toe what? An award car. The university, while working and a full time drop in parallel. And by the time I was 30 one years old, when we decided to have a child, uh, Onley around that time,

for the first time in my life, I felt like I was able. I managed to get myself out of that hole where I was born up to a level where a typical I don't know, no days. It was said, and white privileged us person is born and I hit at that time I had and opportunity to travel. I had enough money for interesting whole base and all that, and that was the moment when my daughter was born. And that caused a lot off emotional problems for me because I felt like she was the reason I couldn't take advantage of law several inches, like I had the passport that would allow me to travel, but they couldn't travel because I had a one year old child infant child. I didn't really have time for hobbies because I had to work really hard toe, make sure my daughter would have the future I want her to have, and the rest of the time I would spend actually helping my wife with child So for a long time I had this problem that here is this baby. Uh and I feel like she was responsible for my emotional distress. Like I could not do a lot of stuff that I wanted to go.

And I feel like that was because of her. She was the one to blame and they blame out for it. Uh, and well, didn't help was the fact that all my life old books and movies and France everybody told me that the moment you will see her for the first time, the moment you will have you have a chance to hold her. You will understand that this is the most important thing in your life. This will be there the most important person you will people love for our and unconditionally. I didn't have that. What? I had waas a really different story that would have had waas Uh, there was my wife, the only person in the world I would I don't give my life for and I would love unconditionally. And she had a really, really complicated labor. So after that labor,

I ended up with a situation where there is this BB. I don't really love. I don't know. And I don't really know anything that's ruined my wife's body and almost killed her. Uh, why would they love her? S so for a long time, I would see my wife and paying for months after the delivery. And I would be expected to love the the person and Baghdad. I didn't really consider her person. Unfortunately, that's how I wired. I don't know. Uh, this is the baby that is responsible for that. So I'm not sure Help.

I wasn't sure how to deal with that. So, being intimate, I just rolled with it and, uh, wasn't a dark place for a really long time. But that all changed. So first when she started talking, speaking, Ah, when I could actually see a real person side. And she wasn't able to water no communicate well enough. Four for us to have any long conversations. But still, I would see that is was really human being on DDE Uh, there was something to love.

And over time, I don't know by spending more and more time with her and being able to order no talkto her, uh, about really random stuff like about it I don't know alls that she loves. I don't know cars. For some reason, it's really lost red cars. I don't know, uh, seeing the amount of joy Ah, shoeprints told my wife, uh, over time, that allowed me to, I don't know, reconcile those two really different ideas There d off.

You have to love your child by the fold without any conditions and the fact that it is actually really hard to do that unless for some reason, I don't know, maybe because of hormones or something else. You just get that without any without doing any work. I e talkto a few people about this, but all of them were women who had kids. And for them, it was like that they would see their child for the first time, and they would love the child by default without any conditions. So it feels like that whole idea that the love shouldn't be unconditional, maybe coming from from women who just have that wired into the I'm not sure if it's like that for

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mentions. You mentioned that it was hard to play with your daughter because it wasn't an expectation that you have fun playing with her. But really, for a long time, you know, she's this helpless human being that can It just rolls around the floor and can't do much. What did that feel like to remember?

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Uh, that was a second problem in my head. Yeah, with the whole background that I just described on top of that that it was a sex expectation that I should enjoy. Uh, playing was a child, so I work, I don't know. 12 $14.14 hours a day. That's how I am. Ah, that means I don't really have much free time. And any free time, I would have I would be expected to spend ah, really wantedto play with the baby. But every time I tried, I I don't know why I had those expectations that it should be fun.

I should enjoy. But it wasn't. It was just Here is his baby. She cannot roll browns. And then she started walking. But it still was was not enough for me. There was no emotional connection. Uh, and I wasn't really enjoying, but let's go play with the baby. Means you do the same thing over Nora again. You go to this means and just me there on that, and five minutes later, we had really bored. And then you go somewhere else and do something else, and it's always exactly the same thing over time.

It changes because she goes but still like it's the same amount of the same set of toys, the same sort of games you play with no stories. And it felt really bored, Uh, and again only when there she started talking. I could see the door stories and those that swing set and everything that they felt was pouring was actually really fun for her. So yeah, I'm not. I'm still not convinced that I should enjoy it, but now I know why I'm doing it. I'm doing it to bring her joy. And as a present, I feel like that's that's what I'm responsible for. Harada, our safety, her future, and to bring her joy today thought she would develop emotionally.

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Do you think it's the repetitive nature of those games that was bringing you down or wasn't the fact that you were expected to work in order to provide for the family and then by the time you're exhausted, you had to do this thing that was not giving you joy.

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You know that we're talking about it actually realized that it is mostly probably mostly because I I am exhausted by the end of the day, I guess, uh, on weekends, what usually happens is that I would wake up earlier than my wife and I would spend a couple hours with my daughter and I don't know, making her breakfast and then playing with her. And then it doesn't feel that boring or that I don't know, exhausting.

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And you've inside just physical, right? You've got this emotional baggage of work and everything that happened throughout the day, kind of bringing you down

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and, oh, yeah, it's not physical because I don't do physical labor so I can go for I don't know for for an hour run after my work and I don't I'm not exhausted physically. It's mostly mental,

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so let's see when you were in the dark place, right? Not able to share this with a lot of people. Did you share this with your wife?

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Unfortunately, no, it just went away, and that was it. Like I have never really shared it with anybody.

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Do you think there's a way to spot it. You know, anything you felt did that would have given it away to people if they were looking for it?

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I don't think so. I know. I'm afraid that when you look at it a situation like this from the outside, it may look like that the father doesn't really love the child or doesn't want to help their wife or something like that. And he I I don't think that was the case. I always wanted to help with whatever she needs. Uh, the problem was that it was hard, hard because off the whole doc situation. Wrong,

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Right? And for the record, you guys plan to have a child that wasn't unexpected. But it's just when that happened, you realized that it was I kind of like a lot of misinformation leading to the birth.

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It was it was very different than all the information that we had from everybody, including, uh, a lot of our friends who had, uh, kids before Some people off our own age, ho would have kids. And probably because of society doesn't society doesn't allow it. They wouldn't tell us that it was that hard, because publicly, you're expected toe to be happy to feel all the joy off pan hold and all that and every parent you talkto. We'll tell you otherwise, but only after you have a child. Only when you are in the same boat you talk to them is that they say, Yeah, it's horrible. It's really hard.

Every single person I talkto for the last three and 1/2 years told me that. But unfortunately, nobody ever told me that until we had a including our own parents. Only only when I have. When I had a baby and I started complaining to my to my mom, she should tell me. Yeah, it was really hard toe raise you, but that only land, it became a thing.

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Well, they have a vested interest. They want to have pockets. Yeah, Yeah, we're pretty convinced if somebody told you exactly what it's

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like to have kids, I wouldn't ever I don't because I never really believed in an obligation, often individual, to have kids to art, and I'll sustain the society of reason like that. I always felt it was a personal choice. Some people choose not to have kids, and I respect that and most probably if somebody explained to me how hard it is, I may have Children not to hurt. We got swell. I didn't really see any reason now that I e started communicated with her and scene. It's not only work, you actually have fun doing it, and I expect it will be more fun going forward when she develops that we can help Mawr in comma like I know we can talk about things we can do things together that are mentally stimulated. No, just, I don't know playing on the playground.

But do me in times an interesting I'm pretty sure it will be more fun going forward. So now I think, yeah, it was worth it. But if I just heard from my friends that this is how hard it is, I probably just given up on the idea. And although we're talking about it, actually realize it. Yeah, that's funny. Why they don't they don't talk about it some more time. It's more interesting, less painful. And you just I don't bury those early years somewhere really deep and forget about them and just enjoy the pan hold as it iss today. Yeah,

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so what's the most fun and detaining thing that you guys do together. Now

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I just like talking to her, seen that there was a really human being inside that small body that's the most interesting for me. But every time we she would make an observation or she would share a feeling or what she likes to do an opinion about something. I don't like this. I don't think this is the right way to do it or something like that. She has a lot of those opinion snow days. That's that's the most interesting thing for me personally, Maxine, that you actually made a real human being.

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Do you feel like you can do those things you missed out on a few years ago like go

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travel now? Yeah, yeah, and and we've slowly started doing that now with a wife like we went to Europe this summer and I feel like, yeah, you can do it. It's just that you have to work around the fact that you have the person you are responsible

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for most of like a you're a troop of the three

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year old are We didn't we didn't take her with us Way had our grandparent's stay with her and we just That was our first time in three years without are we just cause we didn't really muse any baby sitter son is like that. We stayed with her all the time for three years. Andi Yeah, it wa ce refreshing Both was fun to come back to her and and then get back to their whole parenting thing A little fun travelin But, uh, over the last three years, we get used to the fact we actually have her in the life on DDE. Uh, it'll be fun during the day doing all kinds of things. I don't know, hiking in the mountains, running and eating great French food and things like that. But some moments you'll remember that. Oh, yeah, I would love her to be here right now, but I don't see us traveling with a three year old at the moment. Like I would probably wait for her to get I don't know, bigger before my goal Somewhere together. Probably

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a lot more people out there who feel stressed for this particular reason, right? Like I was told that I'm supposed to love my child, but now I'm just stressed and I don't know what to do and they can't share it. And then I mean, you're pretty peaceful person. But I wonder how many times with beats, two divorces where people just getting angry and then cast stuff and maybe just knowing, like if you knew it ahead of time, you wouldn't have Children. But if you knew were made aware of it in the moment, maybe it would have made it easier to bear with it. All right,

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you're differently. And that's what I hope people can get from your broadcast. Like knowing that you are not alone in this at other people may feel some of those things as well that you are. It's not that you are broken in some kind of way, and you everybody lost their kids and you're the only one who doesn't, uh, knowing that other people actually have those promises, all would have helped me a lot. I on one hand, I as we all do, I want to be better things. And I feel like, uh, if I had spent time, more time with them, he may have helped more. But another hand,

I have this really weird problem. I well It's a blessing and the curse My Hobie and my family things in my life, uh, much perfectly with my job. So what? I do it work. If I didn't have to work, that's what I would do in my free time. And that leads to this really weird dynamic where I enjoy working. And it doesn't matter how much I work. I still like it. It was really hard for me to stop. And that means that on one hand I know that I need toe work less and spend more time with my family. And on the other hand, I'm addicted, told activity in the day's work.

So I had to force myself to stop Morgan, Sam, go back to family. And I've been trying to do that more and more time now that I'm more attached. Oh, uh, took a Serena and, uh, I thought you feel more joy doing things with our soul. You've got more than just into me. So now I see more reasons for myself to stop working and go back and be with family. He

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found a new ways to bring her into your work, like somehow be able to do activities that are interesting to both of you at the same time.

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Mmm. No, not yet. Maybe one day she'll be able to help somewhere. I don't know s so far the only thing that I found that allows us to be together on DDE at the same time for me, I don't know to do something useful, I can watch. So on those weekends when we are together in the morning in doing things, I found that watch in, I don't know. Conference videos from all guys of tech. Conference is like a short 15 minute breaks. Uh, Chip, she likes watching them with me like we would sit down on the sofa. And what should I know? If video about architect in really complex systems are now managing the huge my skill clusters or something like that just likes watching people jump on the stage and,

I don't know, tell stories. So that's over the last time in a few months, really useful and really interesting. But I try not to do that a lot because, well, just sit in of one of the TV. But if it means I don't know, giving my wife space on giving her time to do something or just catch up on sleep. It works.

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So speaking of your wife and giving your situation, I assume it works well for you, right? Where you basically going? Work a lot. But that allows for financial freedom to them. Go and enjoy your life as a family. Um, can you think of anything that you guys may have talked about that enable that or, you know, help you maintain that relationship?

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Uh, we didn't really talk about, uh, like this separation off. Mom stays with the baby, and I work it just I always worked a lot, and I always tried to make my family as comfortable as I can. But what we have been talking about this with my wife, we'll be able to do where? Not until they close the school when there is a predictable schedule in which she has predictable amount, baby free time. Uh, we work in towards that future. So she wants she She's a great photographer and she wants that to be our career. And we're working towards lack about building the studio, and she's constantly training herself toe, you know,

to be bad, to be a better photographer and having the dollar that beautiful are helps with that a lot. Like she has a model at home A ll the time. So over time they spend more and more time. Ah, just shouldn't for us at home. So my wife can improve her skills at that specific duty. And the hope is that the moment you lost the schools, 40 year old prominent. Uh, that's will be when my wife, we'll actually have a chance to To do what you want a long time. But I don't. We didn't. We didn't consider any other options are part in a baby CR. And then my wife wouldn't go to work. No.

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So everything you know now, what other things do you think? Valuable to know for expecting parents and new parents

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As the first time parent, you worry a lot about everything. Nothing. You always imagine the most horrible scenarios for every single problem. But people who had more than one child, you know, and who have grown up Children almost all of them will tell you that you're only realist sensibility at that age. While they're just little babies, Just don't let them die. That's the only thing that you have to feed them and make sure they don't kill themselves because they try all the time. And don't worry as much. Yes, it doesn't help. Like on top of all the stress that you have, I don't know sleepless nights and baby crying all the time. And I don't baby getting sick and all things like that, pulling a lot of stress on top of that, just for random things that you imagine may happen doesn't help. So you're just focusing on that moment. Focus in the moment and being there with a child and just doing your work and not worrying about random stuff.

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And so knowing that you can do the do the core things right and the rest of it will take care of itself,

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and then over time you will learn how to do the rest on. If the problems happen, you will figure it out. But worrying about them up front doesn't make a sense. But we'll do that. And I talked to a bunch of first time parents and yeah, they all have the problem, like you can just they worry about the future education, other people, their chair out of their shells and where they will go to school. And if they will have France and all that and the baby's like six months old at the moment, just wait and you will figure it out when you get there. Uh,

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as the dead of ah, second child. Now I concur. Your first child, she sneezes or she has a fever. You were in the emergency room at two o'clock in the morning. Second child, she has a few ever for three days in a row, you like. I'll schedule in the point with our doctor. All right, that's very different, because you've already seen it the first time and you know how they respond to it and not nothing. Nothing is scary anymore, mostly, actually, while we're on the subject of worrying a lot,

you were completely remotely, and I think that's perfect, given that you have a family that you want to be with. At the same time, even though a morte work is becoming a lot more popular, still, very few companies accepted and more importantly, make it a priority. What's your experience here? Do you think remote work is good for employees that have families

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I've been working the motor for a long time, and for the first time in 10 years, it was just a convenience thing. I I like my comfortable chair and all my big monitor at home and the fact that I don't really need to wear pants for the time. Ah, he's not worried, but only when they're actually, uh, we have started building a family. Only then I realized how valuable remote work is for poor people. Families, Uh, I guess you are close. Ah, your family all the time. You are. Even if you are in the work mode and I don't know,

I have Do not disturb sign on your door things like that. If your family really needs you, you're right there seconds away. So you are always able to help, especially during the first years off off the child's life, when all kinds off Fordham called emergencies happen and your wife needs you to help with something. It's really nice to be able to just stand up and be there for them. And I feel like now it helped a lot in our case because it was our our baby. Our daughter is really active So, uh, my wife ends up being exhausted all the time, running around and trying to catch her. And sometimes you just need my help. But I'll just go and spend 15 minutes of your time with her and they can stand up and do that. And if I were in office, okay,

it's 9 to 5 blossom our to commute, and all the time I'm not there. So she wouldn't be alone on. She wouldn't have anybody to help with anything s So I feel like it was really useful for has been really useful for us. And I hope to be able to work mostly going for and see all that. And four years ago, you third right a lot. Was this before? Oh, that that's that's an interesting story. So up until four years ago, I wasn't I couldn't understand. Why would people participated in exports like being interviewed? I waas and I'm still is really against any team sport. Look, I don't like relying on people or kind of and running and biking like selective.

It is. I just understand. Why would people go through all this stuff and suffer for hours? But I remember clearly remember a point where we were sitting with my wife bench in the park. She was pregnant of time already, and the guy just ran by and they told me whether Why? Why are they doing it? Like, what's why? And a few months later, when my wife was misspoke, it was three months before my dirt. Mmm. I had this, uh, First it started,

just like slowly Corning anxiety, day after day after day, and at some point it ended up first. I stopped sleeping like I couldn't sleep for dates than for weeks. I would I would fall asleep by a few hours and then wake up with a nightmare and I go back to bed. I was really worried about all kinds off things that may go wrong with the pregnancy and then was delivery. And the closer we got to do it, I started worrying about what will happen next. And I got so anxious and paranoid and I couldn't sleep. I couldn't really work. It was really painful. And for the record, this is you still

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working money? Like nice. All right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's not

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like I don't have anything to eat And I'm worried about that. We won't have no place to raise the child. I am comfortable at death port. But I worry about so much. I would come up with the craziest scenarios and we'll worry about them for a week. What if she will? I know she'll get sick. What will we do? And there is no family around. And we don't have a doctor and all kinds of things, just just working myself up to crazy state. So at some point, I I couldn't sleep. I couldn't function, so we decided. Okay. I need to do something.

I don't know what to do. I'll start going to the gym. I don't know. Why did I decide to do that? But for some reason, Jim felt like okay, I just need to get out of the house and do something. Yeah. So I went to the gym and found it really boring. I just I You do, You go there for another hour and to pointless stuff. I don't know. So after a couple of months doing that, I didn't feel that it was helping, huh? And then I saw a treadmill,

uh, in the day. Okay. I may try that because I have a really important word with the pre wait. Let's were in the machines. Let's try and run. No, because I like the ideal for Ryan. Orrin isn't like that. Just moved a piece. Some people do it. I'll try. I got on a treadmill and I didn't notice how. An hour later, I stopped like I lost an hour, and that was an hour when I were when I didn't really worry about anything,

I was relaxed. I went home and fell asleep. It was really nice. And next day me and my wife went to a store, bought a pair of running shoes and there was a There are several really long story. I ended up doing the We're really Alone, unhealthy Long trail. Ron was a bunch of people who ended up being really good friends after that, uh, in a local park. And I joined the local running group and started running, and I found that for me as, ah interested person who life being on their own, Ryan was like the perfect outlet for all that stress. If I find myself really stressed, I go out.

I spent an hour 30 minutes an hour, two hours, three hours doesn't matter. Some amount of time just being on my own. And and it helped a lot. I recently started, uh, walking in tow and doing meditation, And they found now I phoned exactly why I liked idea. While like trying, because it's exactly like meditation. You spend a lot of time not thinking about anything just being there on your own in the moment, and it helps a lot with with with any kinds of external stress. And with Trail Ryan, it's even better because you don't have Really, you don't really have time to worry about anything when any moment you can just fall down and I don't know,

break a leg because you are running on a really uneven terrain and you always have to be there in a woman toe. Be aware off what's going on and what's the head of S o. The phone for me that was and perfect wave toe to deal with the anxiety at threats, and it was three years. There was a lot of stress, work related, family related, and one in what's that thing that cared it through that in a phone that a lot of my friends started buying at the time, so the peaks through us on their lives, they just needed something that would help deal with it. I don't sell people. Some people started drinking to just forget about it. And when we do when we run probably chemically, it's really close toe, you know. Two. Tow the situation where people to the station of people didn't do drugs to help this threat. Just that it's relatively healthy.

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Definitely running is amazing for stress leave and for your health. So I also highly recommended, especially if you're really busy and you need a way to meditate and stay in shape at the same time. We're almost out of time. Is there anything else you'd like to say?

36:22

I just want to say thank you for doing it. I hope it will be useful for other people if I had access to kinda like this. Three Little It will help

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once again. Thank you, Phyllis. Scenes of the show. If you have any questions, ideas, concerns, please visit our website at Ride that show dot com and let me know. And of course, don't forget to subscribe.

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