I suffered from postnatal depression after my daughter was born and this is not something I felt comfortable talking about. I felt ashamed and guilty to admit it. I thought it made me a bad mother. Recently however, as more people have openly spoken about their post-natal depression and their mental health in general, I thought it was time for me to share my story too.
My children are my entire world. I totally adore them and wouldn’t change them or any aspect of my life. They are truly amazing, and all I’ve ever wanted was, to be a Mother that gives them the confidence and compassion required to succeed in this world. I felt all of this, but I also felt terribly, terribly sad. That is the cruelty of post-natal depression.
I first started showing symptoms when my husband returned to work.
I was the sole carer for both our children. Our 6 week old daughter and our 2 year old son. My daughter was being breast fed so that meant I spent a lot of time stuck to the sofa, which my son found frustrating. He found it difficult from going from an only child to having to share our attention with our daughter.
I tried to find activates we could do while I was feeding. Watching some TV (Mr Tumble was his favourite), reading and sticker books. But sometimes all he wanted to do was be active and he wanted his Mummy to join him.
We were lucky enough that my in-laws lived close by. So they would pop in, take him out for the day or help me get on top of the ironing.
My daughter suffered from Colic which my son had never suffered from. It was awful. Sometimes it felt that all I did was hold and cuddle her to try and help with the discomfort. I honestly didn’t think it would ever end, I was tired and exhausted all day and all night.
A few weeks after the birth of my daughter I also turned 30. Now I had always imagined my 30th birthday to consist of a lavish party, with me looking stunning in a cocktail dress, with my family and friends while we all sipped on strawberry daiquiris. The reality was I was tired, hormonal and my body had lots of wobbly bits.
I could tell something was wrong quite soon after my daughter was born. I was growing increasingly impatient, extremely tearful and even the smallest tasks would fill me with a sense of dread.
I felt that I was being pulled in all directions and sooner or later something was going to give. I also withdrew further from my family and friends, I was trying really hard to put across that I as coping really well, but I felt that people will know that I’m faking it if I spent too much time around them. So it was better if I tried to handle it by myself.
I was lucky enough to live in an area that has fantastic support for new and expectant mothers. I didn’t have to wait long to be seen and they really were a godsend.
I attended a support group and also had some face to face appointments. They spoke to me about medication. I was adamant that I didn’t want to take any medication even though I seemed to have lost all the joy that my children gave me.
I was worried that if I took the medication I wouldn’t feel like “myself”.
It was during a conversation with my husband where he pointed out that I didn’t currently feel like myself anyway as the depression was bringing me down. He also made a very valid point about would I be as hesitant to take medication if my illness was physical more than mental. It was this conversation as well as the feeling that something had to change that got me to relax my stance on taking medication.
I don’t think I cried as much as the day when I went to collect my prescription. I felt like a failure both as a mother and a person.
It took a few days for me to start feeling the effects of the medication. The fog started to clear, my smile started to return, I felt calmer and more in control. I started to appreciate the joy my children gave me once again.
Within a few weeks I started to feel “normal” again. I was discharged from the mental health service, safe in the knowledge that I could always return if I needed to. It helped enormously always knowing that I had the support if I needed it. Thankfully I never have had to go back.
Every day I seem to feel a tiny bit better. A tiny bit closer to the woman I once was. A tiny bit closer to the mother I wanted to be to my children.
Looking back, I am so happy that I took the plunge and sought help when I needed it. Even though, at the time, it was such a difficult experience it has made me a stronger person because of it.
So I guess what I want to say is whatever situation you find yourself in, if you feel you need help with your mental health, please do seek support. Do tell the people close to you how you feel and the struggles you are facing. It may seem like the most difficult thing to do in that moment, but I can honestly say that it does help and it will start making things better.
If you want to talk to someone regarding the issues raised in this blog, please contact us. We are offering a free two week trial for online counselling.