It won’t happen to me
There’s no way I’d have ever thought I would get post natal depression. I’ve always been a ‘strong woman’. Since my late teens I’ve been fairly self assured, outwardly reasonably confident, focused, driven. You get the picture.
When I graduated from University my career became my drive. I landed a management position in the largest Leisure Centre in the U.K., & worked my backside off until I was Centre Manager. A strong willed, strong minded, business focused woman.
After my first baby was born I remember being thrown head first into this turmoil of ‘she isn’t doing what the books say she should be’, ‘I haven’t showered in days’, ‘why is she screaming at me?’, ‘I can’t do this!’…I had no control & I didn’t like it! The media had convinced me that I could have it all, be a good Mum, keep a spotless house, look good, see friends and all that jazz. But I seemed to be ballsing it up fairly impressively! I was miserable. I loved my baby, my god I loved my baby, but this was not what I had anticipated! I thought I’d be all over this parenting thing….boy was I wrong!
With baby number 1 I had the baby blues. I was miserable, doubting myself, couldn’t work out why I couldn’t get my shit together. But after a few weeks I started to feel better & came out the other side. A few months later I came across the cause of my issues as I was ‘grieving’ the birth experience I had longed for & a breastfeeding journey I had so badly wanted that just didn’t work out. That’s a story for another time.
So when baby number 2 arrived 18 months later I was aware that I might struggle a bit. I had prepped my family & friends to look out for me falling into that dark place. Little did I know that that was the tip of the iceberg.
I have no shame in talking about my post natal depression. It’s a taboo subject for some, but for me it was a turning point. An eye opener. A realisation, an epiphany if you will.
Many if you will know that my son was poorly, and remained so for many months. The screaming for 20 hours each day & night certainly was an enormous contributing factor to my mental health issues. To this day I suffer with post traumatic stress issues and suffer with flashbacks if I hear a baby really crying.
For me, postnatal depression was lonely. I was surrounded by support but I felt completely alone. I was very close to packing myself & my son up, and leaving my daughter with her dad so she could have a better Mummy one day. On more than one occasion I started packing. This turned into feeling worthless to both of my children & my husband and truly believing they would all be better without me. I was failing them beyond words, so I thought.
There were very dark times where I wished it was over. Wished my son didn’t have to hurt anymore. Wished I didn’t have to live through it. I won’t spell it out but you can imagine where my head was.
There are a few occasions I remember vividly that I will share with you:
– When my son was very little, 4 weeks or so I guess, I was trying to get to a breastfeeding support group. He was screaming in the back of the car. Screaming so hard he had gone silent. And purple. I thought he had died. I sat in my car clutching my baby to me for 2.5 hours, rocking, screaming, wishing it all to be over. Thought about opening the door & throwing both of us in front of the next car. Nobody stopped that day. Not one person looked in & thought ‘whoa, that’s not right! I’ll see if they’re ok’. I will never walk on by again.
2. I have no idea how old my baby was. I remember my husband was trying to leave for work to it must have been around 6am. The screaming had started. I didn’t respond. I froze. Then I broke. I looked like the stereotypical ‘crazy person’, I was rocking furiously, pulling my hair, sobbing, not engaging. God knows how he (my husband) got through that. I scared myself that day.
3. Baby must have been about 10 weeks old. We had been to a friends house to celebrate their sons first birthday. The screaming started when we got in the car, as it always did. I had both kids in the car & was in rush hour traffic. My toddler was getting impatient & the baby was screaming. I lost my mind, whilst driving a car. I was screaming at the other road users, my kids were scared, I remember seeing incoming traffic & contemplated swerving into it. Thank the lord I had someone watching over me that day. I got us home by talking to myself, telling myself I was ok. That the kids were ok and that we were nearly home. I walked through my front door clutching my baby, sobbing. I didn’t speak for hours. Just held him, rocked with him & sobbed.
There were many more instances but these are the three that stick in my brain. I still think about number 1 every time I pass that layby. He is 2 now and it’s still the same.
Its hard to look back on and realise how sick I was. But there was hope. Is hope for anyone suffering this awful illness.
its not weakness. It’s not silly. It’s serious & dangerous at times.
Thankfully I have an amazing husband who got me sorted, by seeking help on my behalf. Without that my children would not have a Mummy.
Learn the signs of PND. Watch for them in yourself, your partner & your friends. Seek help. Carry no shame. Create a support network and most importantly be honest.
I am thankful for my illness. It’s made me who I have become-someone who has little interest in material possessions, volunteers a lot of time to charity, thanks whoever or whatever it may be that watches over me for a second chance and it led to the beginning of the Beau Baby Photography journey. I couldn’t be more grateful for the lessons I learned.
I take nothing for granted now, every day is a blessing.
Post natal depression is horrific but it can have a silver lining.
A fantastic resource is PANDAS Foundation.
Much love & be true