This is probably one of the more difficult things for me to write about but for me an important one.
Have you ever googled the definition of postnatal depression? Well I hadn’t until I wanted to share my story and here’s what it said…..
Reading this and seeing the word ‘typically’ made me feel a little disjointed. There’s nothing typical about it, its individual and yet the same and no amount of sleep can cure it.
I never thought for one moment that PND would happen to me. I had a happy relationship, I had a good job that I enjoyed and a loving family around me and yet it did.
I tell this story as if the secondhand person because I want to narrate my own story to you of my experience and what I went through, I appreciate the not everyone experiences the same story but the feeling however is very much the same.
You don’t just suddenly wake up one day and have PND, its something that creeps up on you over time, something that you don’t even realise is happening until one day, you notice your struggling to want to socialise or you feel you’ve lost the skill on how too! So you start cancelling plans and just wanting to stay home, because this is where you feel safe and in control. No one can judge you if your protected by the same four walls of your home; however that’s when the feeling on isolation sets in, the loneliness!
Then you see your family and they love you, you know they do and they want to help with the new baby and you feel that maybe you would like some time to yourself but in reality you don’t want to be separated. You start thinking that, they think you can’t cope by yourself and then you decide you desperately need to show you can do it all single handily and eventually they stop offering and again you feel alone but you decide that’s better than them thinking, you are failing as a mother.
The shame of feeling this way or comparing yourself to the way other mum’s appear to cope so seamlessly is devastating and overwhelming, that all you can do is put on the appearance that everything is fine. Of course no one see’s the tears and not just the ones you cry at night when your in bed, but when your standing in the shower, facing another day and your mind is left to wonder and you think of all the things you think you are failing at as a mother and in life.
Every day appears the same way and it feels like you will never feel like you did before. How do you make this stop?
This is never a simple question, with a simple answer and there is never going to be an easy fix or a magic get of jail free card but there is always a way!
For me my saviour was William, I only ever wanted the best for him, so I ploughed all my energy into making him feel happy and blessed and I stopped looking at myself and what I needed or what I felt I didn’t have. It was a way to be distracted and block out some of those negative more harmful thoughts.
My family were terrific, my mum was amazing at seeing right through my fake smiles and understanding completely what I needed. She took my mood swings, my resistance to want to be social and she just stayed close enough so I never felt truly alone. My sister was always my reality check and although at the time I couldn’t sometimes listen to what she said, it did sink in and it helped me get stronger and braver about not having to be perfect. And then there was my Dad, he kept the days and months real by just living them, not making things about just William or I but about what else was going on, taking my mind away from thinking on my worries or stresses and keeping me involved in the turning of the world.
My Husband, well he just took it all, the crying, the temper, the stages of depression and he never once judged me, he never used it against me and he just moved around allowing me to go through this and was always there to pull me back when I couldn’t.
Just writing this and thinking on this very dark time brings tears to my eyes but it also brings me a strange sense of comfort. I am now so much stronger than I imagined I could be, I have an appreciation for what it means to be a friend, wife and a mother. And I don’t tend to sweat the small stuff like I did before and these are things that I am proud to pass on to my son.
We all have different motivators for keeping us going and getting us through those dark days but the thing for everyone to remember is your not alone, not even a little bit. You have support out there, who understand, who will never judge you but who will stand by you and encourage you. I would say to any one who feels overwhelmed and that feel’s they are struggling with postnatal depression to reach out, make that first step.
And for those family and friends on the side lines that feel helpless or who are not sure where to turn for advice, just don’t give up, just be there even in the background or on the sidelines because you are needed there more than you know.
I’ll leave with a quote that I found one day when I was feeling low and it has always stuck with me as it’s so true!
“Women should be respected as well! Generally speaking, men are held in great esteem in all parts of the world, so why shouldn’t women have their share? Soldiers and war heroes are honored and commemorated, explorers are granted immortal fame, martyrs are revered, but how many people look upon women too as soldiers?…Women, who struggle and suffer pain to ensure the continuation of the human race, make much tougher and more courageous soldiers than all those big-mouthed freedom-fighting heroes put together!” ~ Anne Frank
Below are some links that you may find helpful.
This one I used personally as an app on my phone and still do from time to time Headspace
If you have any other great sources of help and support or a story to share please comment.
You can also contact me with any thoughts or feelings you have towards this topic.