Pandora Sykes on navigating postpartum emotions
Author, podcaster and mother of three, Pandora Sykes, discusses mental health as a new mom, creating space for emotions, and the importance of self-care.
On finding contentment
“Contentment is an appreciation of the world and an understanding that life will have ups and downs, but it’s a state free from constant anxiety. It acknowledges that we’ll experience both peaks and valleys, moments of happiness and spells of sadness. When I read interviews with celebrities in magazines, a common question that arises is, ‘Are you happy?’ I find it fascinating that this question assumes happiness to be a fixed state, rather than moments of happiness or peace. It also highlights how our pursuit of happiness often revolves around unattainable states of being and feeling. The best I can realistically hope for, or at least what I personally strive for, is contentment.”
On giving yourself time
“I’ve discovered that allowing things more time helps with emotional turbulence. It provides a space for things to settle, which, I believe, is the most important lesson I’ve learned. It’s about granting everything a bit more time—more time for journeys, more time for tasks, and more time to feel fully prepared for specific projects. Recently, I was offered a very cool opportunity to try something new, but it also felt a bit scary, and I realized I’m not ready to feel fear again at six months postpartum. I need a bit more time. I still feel like I’m very new to the experience of raising three children, and I’ve granted myself more time to figure things out.”
“I was diagnosed with postnatal depression after my second child, but looking back, I experienced it after my first child as well. I had called it anxiety because that was the term I was familiar with. With my first child, once I felt well enough, I immediately returned to work and said yes to every wedding, not wanting to disappoint anyone, personally or professionally. Now, I’ve learned to be more in tune with my emotions and recognize when I need to take a step back, cancel commitments if necessary, and prioritize self-care. My midwife helped me understand that situational factors don’t exempt us from experiencing mental health challenges. Even with regular self-care, you can’t control whether these challenges will manifest.”
Building mental resilience
“Without realizing it, I was very impatient after having my first two children. I’ve come to understand that, especially when you have a child, it can be difficult to resist the urge to dive back into things too quickly. Even now, as I continue to work while caring for a young baby, I’ve scaled down my workload and only recently returned to full-time work. I wanted to rebuild my mental resilience and come to terms with the fact that my mind has taken quite a hit. Your brain undergoes huge changes after having a baby.”
Holding yourself so you can hold others
“It’s difficult, but I’m creating flexibility in my schedule. Each time I have a child, I need to reevaluate what I can give and what I can take on. I never want to reach a point where I feel I am unable to hold someone else. For me, it’s about finding ways to support and care for myself, so that I can be there for others, especially in a society that emphasizes individualism.”
“For a long time, I’ve limited my use of social media. I don’t keep the apps on my phone. My mind is naturally very stimulated, so scrolling through the lives of other people and absorbing their activities can easily overwhelm me. It’s interesting that there’s an expectation nowadays to learn about people’s lives through social media, but I don’t think it’s the best way to understand others. I view social media as a part of my work. Hence, my online engagement is largely work-related. My life is offline.”
Cultivating moments of joy
“I’m trying to create time for activities that are for myself, without the goal of making money. As a freelancer and the primary breadwinner, my business is my brain. I have to make sure I can consistently show up for work and deliver results, so maintaining my mental and emotional health is key. Something I find very restorative is taking walks without my phone and simply observing my surroundings. I’ll also visit the local corner shop and have a coffee and chat with a friend who works there. It’s these small moments of interaction that have become increasingly scarce in our fast-paced lives. And these are where moments of surprise and joy can occur and enrich our daily lives.”
Astrological Forecast November 2023
Artwork by @_kallenmikel.
These are turbulent times we’re living in. On the outside world – the world stage – a visible conflict is playing out. A battle that, from a cosmic perspective, has been planned for ages and long before. From a spiritual standpoint, we are encouraged to turn inward, rather than be drawn into the polarity of our external world. All life, in its various forms, is equal; distinctions between ‘me and you,’ ‘we and them,’ or ‘right and wrong’ are mere perceptions. As humans, we hold the power to create a world without conflict, victims, or perpetrators. The greater the chaos in the external world, the stronger the call to turn inward, and the more profound the power to create the change we seek in the world.
Everything we observe in the external world is a reflection of our inner selves. The art is to turn inward, to observe the fear, anxiety, conflict, and disharmony within us and transform them into trust, calmness, surrender, and harmony. Challenge yourself to view emotions as sources of information before being carried away by the emotional triggers. In fact, every emotion offers insights into areas where we need to work toward inner harmony. To truly progress, we need to be calm and dedicated. Because our external world mirrors our inner one, we must recognize the importance of our emotional inner world. Our highest goal is to create harmony within, providing us with the tools for transformation. We should not consider moments of rest and reflection as weakness or laziness; instead, we should surrender to our needs without judgment. Once again, our external world reflects our inner one. Allow this realization to settle for a moment.
This time of year holds completion and renewal, and we find ourselves guided by energies that push us toward rapid transformation and growth. It is time to draw out our deepest desires. We may come to realize that our present circumstances are a result of our choices. Taking responsibility for our actions and experiences is the stepping stone for change. Our deepest desires can teach us who we truly are. There were no wrong choices made; each decision and experience has been necessary in evaluating the outcomes of our choices. We must ask ourselves: Have our choices taken us where we truly wish to be? Have they come from a place of authenticity, or have they been influenced by outside opinions? With this awareness, we can make different choices at any moment. This is the path of organic change, leading us to our deeper selves. There are no wrong choices; each choice provides an experience that informs the next decision. Tune into your deepest desires and remember that you have the choice to observe your emotions rather than be led by them.
Now that we’re here, we can redefine the rules of the game and make conscious decisions in our lives. Often, we feel trapped in roles – mother, partner, daughter, son, friend, or even world-changer. We’re in networks of friends, family, work, and clubs, and we’ve assigned ourselves identities within them. The question to ask is whether these roles continue to serve us. Are we still content in a specific role, within a particular group, or in relation to a specific person? Initially, these questions can cause insecurity, chaos, doubt, and unrest. However, we can make choices within our social constructs and the roles we embody. For all choices, consider whether they come from authenticity. Is this choice aligned with my true self? Does it genuinely resonate with me? Is it what I truly desire? Have I fully tapped into my deepest desires?
The transformations triggered by the above can be emotionally intense, but they are essential. If you’re already undergoing a transformation, do not take your emotions too seriously, for you are feeling in order to let go. Discover the transformative power of emotions. Be patient and learn to give yourself and others more of the unconditional. You are good as you are, and everything you choose will always be right. From a cosmic perspective, we are at a very important crossroads. If you resonate with this, seize this opportunity wholeheartedly. When everyone chooses from a place of authenticity, we co-create a better world. ‘An eye for an eye’ is not who we truly are. One for all, all for one.
READ a brief introduction on astrology and Artipoppe’s frequently used terms.
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