“Words won’t help to
Heal what hurts you
I did what I had to do.
So don’t start crying,
I’ll start crying
My heart’s broken too”
Sugarland – My Heart’s Broken Too
In my last post, I shared how PND has mentally effected me. This time I want to write about the emotional impact.
The best words I can use are those I spoke to my mum, back in September –
“I feel like my heart is broken”.
I don’t know if you have ever had a broken heart. If you have, maybe it’s been from a relationship breakdown, death, loss or major disappointment. I’ve had my heart broken, a few times before, and it’s painful. It’s miserable, it’s dark and lonely. It’s not a place anyone truly wants to be or stay. Normally, with time, our hearts begin to mend, as we process through the situation that got us there.
The best way I can describe PND is that my heart was continually breaking, every day, as the ‘Re-occurring Intrusive Thoughts’ did me not leave me. Therefore, there was no way to heal. All that ‘time’ was doing was making it worse. I felt hopeless.
I spent many days secretly crying, for sometimes ‘no reason’ at all. I would long for nap time, so that I could put Reuben down and weep privately, hoping the tears would help to ease the pain. They didn’t. They did help, in that moment, to release some of the pent-up emotion inside of me, but after the initial relief I would find myself flooded by more darkness, only to have to return to the tissue box again and again. I tried desperately to conceal my tears from anyone, sometimes even refusing to answer the front door, as my puffy face could not hide my fragile emotional state.
Most of the time I could contain my emotions in public. There were occasions, however, when I had to flee places, as I could feel the tears washing over me, desperate to be allowed out. Like the day I was in my local chemist, getting yet another prescription cashed for Reuben’s reflux. The staff had come to recognise us and were used to our weekly visits. On this day, Reuben was lying sleeping peacefully in the pram and the assistant looked over and commented. I mumbled something about it being the first time that day he was not crying. I remember her looking at me intently and saying (in a lovely tone) “you are doing a really good job, you know”. I could not get out of there quick enough. The tears started to pour, and I’m sure she could see something of the depths of my pain. I walked back home sobbing, not caring who could see me.
My emotions were so unpredictable and fierce that found I could no longer watch or read anything ‘too sad’. I was afraid of the emotion it would evoke within me and once I started crying was not sure I would ever stop…over a rom com!!
Others days I have felt numb, as if nothing could touch me. As if I lived in a parallel universe to everyone else and was just watching life go by. I felt completely detached from myself, from Gavin, from Reuben and from everything around me. Those days were equally as hard. It was like I was trapped in a black hole, from which I should want to escape, but had no desire to leave.
On those days I couldn’t tell you who or what I loved, but I was sure I did not love my son in the way I was supposed to. As Reuben got to the point where he could initiate affection with me, like his bedtime cuddle, my heart would ache as I longed to feel something more. Having put Reuben to bed and ate dinner, I would go to bed early, too early, using the excuse of getting up with him in the night, simply to get away from life. I hoped that putting my head on the pillow would bring an end to how much I didn’t feel that day. Life was passing me by and Gavin spent many nights downstairs alone.
I had no hope for the future and nothing I was looking forward to. This was despite having family events, holidays, birthday celebrations coming up, all of which I used to enjoy.
I spent so much time and energy wishing everything was different…that I had been better at being pregnant; that I had responded differently to Reuben’s birth; that I felt different; that I was a different person; and that I was a better mum.
It’s been exhausting. Particularly because, for over 2 years, I’ve kept it all to myself. Promising that the next day, week or month I would feel different, only for that day never to appear. I went to bed dreading the night and woke up knowing I simply had to survive the day. It seemed like I was caught in a cycle that was never going to end and I had no way to free myself.
To say that my heart has been broken, is probably the best way I can describe the depths of emotional pain that PND has brought me. Having a baby is supposed to be a joyous occasion, hard work of course, but there is light to be found as we embark on our new role as a mum – or so we are told. This wasn’t the life I was living and it broke my heart. All the TV programmes, baby books, greetings cards etc spoke of new life and new hope – I felt I had lost my life and all hope, this too broke my heart. And then there was the daily crippling pain of looking into a little face, with eyes that look like mine, only to wonder how and if he could belong to me – that tore my heart in pieces.
The good news is, I believe, that broken hearts can heal. Having been on this journey, I now understand that healing is only possible when the hurt is out in the open – when it is spoken and when it faced. Time can only be a great healer, when the wound is not ignored. So I am revealing with my wounds, allowing my hurts to be tended and trusting that my heart will eventually mend.