Post natal depression and me

I’m slowly drifting away (drifting away)
Wave after wave, wave after wave
I’m slowly drifting (drifting away)
And it feels like I’m drowning
Pulling against the stream
Pulling against the… (drifting away)
Wave after wave, wave after wave
I’m slowly drifting (drifting away)

I wish I could make it easy
Easy to love me, love me
But still I reach
To find a way
I’m stuck here in between
I’m looking for the right words to say

(Waves Mr Probz)

I wouldn’t have thought that a Europop song could sum up how Post Natal Depression (PND) and Post Natal Anxiety has affected me. The way that this dreadful illness has made me feel is so difficult for me to put into words and I am concerned that in my post I will not be able to do justice to the millions of women who are battling PND. Everyone’s experience of PND is unique, but I hope that writing this post is not only cathartic for me, but will also have some resonance with others affected by PND.

Most people will be aware of the terribly sad cases of women who have taken their own lives as a result of PND. A three year national study of new mothers estimated that 88 took their own lives as a result of PND. These tragic cases have helped raise awareness about the condition and highlight the extreme impact that PND can have. However, despite this higher profile, PND is still a slightly awkward topic for many people. PND is thought to affect around 20 percent of women in the year after giving birth, but most of those who suffer PND do so in silence.

Mumsnet survey

 

I have never been open about suffering PND. Retrospectively, I was able to see that I experienced symptoms of PND after the birth of my first child, but since the birth of my second child, the PND I have experienced has been severe. Yet, I have seldom spoken of this out-with a very small circle of people. This is bizarre given that if I experienced any other illness I would no doubt discuss it openly with many more people. This highlights the awful stigma in our society surrounding mental health problems. I, for one, am close to the top of the “incredulous about mental illness” list. I always doubted whether mental illness could be truly debilitating and had a bit of an unspoken “pull yourself together and get on with it” mentality. Indeed, I would always rank mental illness such as depression fairly low in comparison with “real illnesses”. This attitude definitely made it harder for me to acknowledge the illness in myself and ultimately seek help.

PND has made the last few months extremely difficult for me. I am close to tears most days. Some trivial problem or mishap can ruin the day and leave me feeling bereft. Something as simple as burning some toast makes me feel like a failure and like my life is spiraling out of control. My anxiety levels are sky high. I feel physical symptoms of chest tightness, churning stomach and headaches as I try to manage daily chores and get it together to get my children out the door in the morning. I can boil some water in a pot and be in floods of tears as I imagine the water flying out of the pot and burning my baby. I can often hear a baby crying in my head and find it very difficult to relax. I have had some of the darkest thoughts imaginable and have days where I feel like I am stuck in mud. It almost feels like I am in a dream and watching the world going on around me. I feel completely inadequate as a mother and know that any childish misdemeanor is magnified so that my reaction is over the top. I worry constantly that people are looking at me and seeing me as a bad mum. No amount of well- meaning comments to the contrary can take this feeling away. An extreme exhaustion and malaise hits me most mornings and I wish I could sleep the day away. By night time I have thoughts racing round my head and find it difficult to sleep. I have vivid anxiety ridden dreams. This was not how it was meant to be. I have the husband and children I have always wanted but I feel in so much pain and my husband feels helpless. Again, unlike with any other illness, I feel the need to clarify that I love my children and my husband to the moon and back and fear that anyone would think otherwise has intensified my silence on the issue of PND.

Eyeore

I have recently discovered PANDAS foundation – Pre and postnatal depression advice and support. This group has helped me feel more “normal” and a weight has been lifted in the sense that I have admitted that this is happening. The PANDAS motto that “it’s okay not to be okay” is so helpful. Sometimes I don’t have to keep up my front. I don’t have to pretend that everything is okay when it’s not.

fine

I may or may not talk about my PND again. Sometimes I don’t know where to start. There is lots more to be said and I don’t know how my journey with this illness is going to pan out. I hope that like other illnesses, PND is normalised. I hope that we might all try and be a bit kinder to each other, and ourselves. Peace out x

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One Response to Post natal depression and me

  1. Pingback: All these things that I’ve done – Reflections on maternity leave | Mum On The Run by Dolina

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