If you’ve been following my blog from the beginning, you’ll know that I’ve touched on Prenatal Depression before, and it’s a time that I look back at and can’t quite see clearly enough through the memory fog that I’ve made to disguise that part of my life. It was a harrowing time of uncertainty, exhaustion and anxiety and the only moments I remember in detail are breaking down infront of my GP when he asked “How can I help?” and that rather unfortunate time when I locked myself out in the snow with Adam out of the country and 2% phone battery which gave me enough to hail an Uber to my sisters 45 minutes away to some form of warmth and safety. With the boost of some antidepressants and a half arsed attempt at CBT (for the 3rd time in my life) I managed to see brighter days and 3 weeks after the birth of our firstborn I went cold turkey and felt a new lease of life. It’s a time that I’m glad I have blurred and honestly? I really didn’t expect to experience it’s older and more intense sister, Postnatal Depression. I also had no idea how bad it can really make you feel, or how terrifying it makes the world seem, or even just how the smallest of changes can turn your life upside down. It’s so much more than a combination of fatigue, sleep deprivation and multi tasking into confusion. It’s an illness, and a pretty grotty one at that too, and it’s only now at 4 months postpartum, that I’m able to really open up and want to turn something so taboo and feared into something helpful for others. Maybe you just want to learn, or maybe you know of someone who has also been diagnosed. Maybe it’s you, or your mother, sister, daughter, or friend. By documenting my journey I hope I can eliviate at least a tiny amount of stigma against this very real depression, and try to combat this wider thought of “oh, you’re just a bit tired”. I am bloody tired, but I’m more tired of having this mental block that stops me from loving my children and I am not afraid to say it anymore. I am not afraid of admitting that I have on several occasions woken in the night to a quiet house, my newborn sleeping on one side, my partner curled up around a pillow on the other, our daughter spread like an eagle up against cot bars in the room next door – and have just slipped out unnoticed. I don’t know what I’m doing, maybe my brain needs some air, maybe my mind needs a change of scenery, maybe my body has somehow convinced my legs that going for a wander at 3am on the street outside is worth my while, but for whatever the reason, it’s f*cking weird and I don’t want to do it anymore. At least when I crumble and hysterically cry for no reason and imagine running away forever without my children I see some sort of sense before it actually happens, but then why on earth do I just casually stroll out the house at the most ridiculous of times with no thought process paving the way.
I attend a support group once a week as part of an 8 week course designed to develop coping strategies and discussions surrounding our experiences with PND. Along with 8 other Mothers I share the common thoughts that we all seem to understand precisely and it has been the best support I have felt by far. Just knowing that the people sat opposite you are feeling the exact same emotions, for the exact same reasons, performing the exact same actions in the exact same way is eye opening and comforting; the anxiety we experience is nothing to cower away from – it is perfectly normal for a women with postnatal depression to feel anger at the sight of an unmade bed, or feel fear from the thought of socialising, or through gritted teeth bite their tongue not to shout at their partner because their voice is suddenly irritating. I’ve learnt that if I don’t want to do something then I don’t have to do it and so I’ve started putting me first, and putting my family first and anyone who creates a negative impact or causes stress on a daily basis has taken a back seat. Some won’t understand the reason I do this, others will see this as an insult. But then are those who see this action as a personal attack really friends at all? My body has grown from scratch and delivered 2 babies in the space of 15 months. The hormones surging through my body are those of a woman on her period more than 10 X but every single day. My immune system is working hard to fight off Crohn’s Disease and then make food for my baby, and on top of this, I am struggling to accept these changes in my own body. It is no wonder that I say and do things that I would never have imagined doing and any person who cannot accept this information and take these changes of the mind and body can no longer be in the front of the line until I am in a position to dedicate time and energy elsewhere. The guilt I feel for doing this is overwhelming. I know full well I may lose people from my life because of this, but then I also know that I will gain some who understand and I will retain those who know they need to let me fix myself.
The road to recovery from PND will be long and hard. I am forever grateful for the family and friends who can understand my need to take time and concentrate on being a Mother, a partner and a role model to my children. If you are feeling the same and would like to chat, please drop me a line on the contact page. I’d love to hear your thoughts and it may be that as the more of us share and come together, the more easily it may be to combat.
More posts to follow xoxo