An excerpt from my diary, written 10th December 2014:
As I write I fight back tears that I cannot explain. It’s 11.18pm and I have just finished bottle-feeding my four month old son (bottle-feeding, can you imagine?). He was so sweet when I snuggled him up and fed him, chomping away on his bottle with his blue eyes opened just enough to make out the location of the bottle but not quite enough to have to wake up fully. He is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen, I do not believe anyone could love their child as much as I do my son.
And yet my heart is aching, it actually feels sore. I feel like I’m in a pit and I can’t get out, I want to yell and scream and cry my heart out but I don’t know why. I quickly recite The Lord’s Prayer over and over and over in my head ‘For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory, Amen. Our Father…’ I will not give in to these thoughts, I will not let them take over my mind.
And yet they’re still there. No amount of wishing or willing will make them leave but I manage to shut them out for just a moment and I look down at my baby boy who has his little hand grasped tightly around mine and I smile at this perfect gift given me by God and cry silent tears of overwhelming joy and bitter inexplicable sadness.
I haven’t read this since first writing it over three years ago and it hurts deeply to relive those memories – the ones which I’ve stuffed deep down inside in order to carry on in some kind of ‘normal’ fashion.
I’m trying hard to remember just how I felt as I wrote this. I remember sitting at our computer in a flat in Hampstead, London. It was dark and cold outside and the weather felt like a real picture of the turmoil I was feeling in my heart. I had gone to the bedroom (where the computer was – it was a small flat!) in order to hide from my husband. I couldn’t let him see what I was writing – what on earth would he think? Would he report me to social services? Would they take my son away? Would he leave me if he knew how I really felt about this little boy? And I use the word ‘this’ deliberately because that’s how it felt – ‘this’ little boy not ‘my’ little boy. He didn’t feel like mine. I don’t know who owned him but I wasn’t sure it was supposed to be me. Oh how it hurts to revisit these feelings.
Fast forward three years and I’m still here. My son is still here – in fact I’ve since had another one! My firstborn who I speak of in those opening lines is a wonderful little boy, intelligent, feisty, determined, a real fire-cracker! And I adore him. I don’t know what I would do without him. And yet only three years ago I thought quite seriously about how I could get rid of him. Or myself. It’s hard to share these things. It’s difficult to admit that things had gotten that bad. But it’s real-life for me, it’s part of my story. And I swore to myself that I would do whatever I could in the future to help others in the same situation.
And so here I am guest-blogging for www.haveyouseenthatgirl.com
I want to say to those feeling like I did ‘You are not alone, you are not a monster, you can get better.’
To say I’m fully recovered from Postnatal Depression would be a lie. I’m on anti-depressants and see a counsellor regularly. But I’m no longer a threat to my own life or anyone else’s, it seems that those days are long gone. Why? Because I finally got help. I had convinced myself that a mother who truly loved her child would not have felt and thought the awful things that I did.
But then I came to realise actually that a mother who loves her child is the one who seeks help, who fights to make things better, who gives all that she can for the sake of her child.
So I referred myself to a Women’s Health Counsellor in London back in January 2015 and started the long journey of recovery.
I’m not sure if or when I will be at the end of that journey, but wonderfully, I am in an inexplicably better place than I was back then. I was cynical about speaking to someone, I was terrified of my child being taken from me and I was ashamed to feel the way that I did – to feel like I maybe didn’t love my child.
But that’s exactly what the PND wanted me to think. It wanted to isolate me and shame me, to keep this horrid secret hidden so I could suffer for as long as possible. But I refused to let it win. I found someone to talk to, I was honest with those close to me, I worked hard (with the help of a counsellor) at changing my thought process and I got so much better than I was.
I still walk this road of depression, but no longer on my own – and that has made the world of difference.
Emma is a Christian 20-something originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland but currently living in London. She’s married to her best friend Ross who is in Bible college studying for ordination in the Church of England.
They have two adorable little sons – Benjamin and Alexander. She’s a stay-at-home mum and enjoys looking after my little men, writing, baking, reading, drinking coffee and exploring.
Find Emma’s blog here – https://emmamungavin.wordpress.com