I HAVE HAD POSTNATAL DEPRESSION
There, I have said it. I wish I could say it feels so liberating to put it out there and I am so glad you all now know, but I don’t. Sadly, and with shame I am embarrassed about it. I have worked within mental health and I would be the first person to encourage others to speak out and get help, to tell them not be ashamed and that it is not a sign of weakness and I would mean it but when it comes to myself….
When my eldest son Henry (now 4) was born I had endured a very long and very sick pregnancy. In and out of hospital regularly with dehydration and eventually diagnosed with a gallbladder full of stones and hyperemesis, not chronic heartburn (thanks for the gallons of Gaviscon NHS). Shortly after he was born I had surgery to remove my gallbladder. Six months later I was pregnant and sadly had a miscarriage and a few months after that I was pregnant again, and Maisie arrived (now 2). A lot happened in a short time, not to mention the passing of my Mum exactly a year before Henry was born. I didn’t know it then but I was a prime candidate for PND.
After Maisie was born I felt completely overwhelmed, my body had changed dramatically, there was no down time, as I had a 20 month old toddling around and I was exhausted and crying a lot. I began to withdraw not wanting to go out to see friends. At 7 months Maisie went into a hip spica following surgery and it was only after admitting to my husband before we went to a friends for Thanksgiving that I thought I had PND or as I put it, ‘wasn’t coping’ that I went to the Dr. I hate that phrase ‘not coping’, it’s not that I couldn’t cope, I wasn’t well. So please Mamas, if you are dealing with PND remember it is not that everyone else is coping better, you have a lot more going on than most.
My Dr was fantastic and very supportive. He put me on medication and within a couple of weeks I was feeling a million times better. I am a professional, a Mum, a wife, a volunteer and so-on, I did the right thing to accept help and medication where it was needed but I often still feel like a failure or weak because of this. I hate that PND is such a taboo and I have fallen into that trap of feeling ashamed.
I have come off the tablets, I have not felt in such a dark place as I did back then but I certainly have many days where I have to stop and take a deep breath to get myself going or make myself do things. I try to take better care of myself and recognise when I need time out and actually take it (very important to actually do it).
I continue to trust in God that he is really the one in control and I dig deep for the joy when I have the strength and I lean back on Him when I don’t. I know the things, and people who bring me joy and strength and I try to immerse myself in those when I am feeling low. I have had a rough and stressful year but I have survived it with the help of these things, so have my family. There are still 4 of us under the roof each night and to me, that’s a great day.
I haven’t gone back onto the tablets but I know if I need to, I will and I will fight that feeling of shame. You see PND doesn’t just disappear magically with a wish and a prayer, it is an illness like any other and each person must find their suitable treatment and path through. It is a journey of healing that we as woman should support and encourage each other in and that society should respect.
My story is one of many, I hope this encourages others to stand up and be counted. Not in a flag waving ‘I had PND’ way but with a bid to changing the way we as woman and as a society think of it. It’s a little battle scar on my heart that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t have my beautiful fun and joy giving children, SO I AM NOT ASHAMED! (REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT)
“Hello! I’m Suzanne, or Sooz to most people.
I am a wife, mum of two tinies, teacher of young people with behavioural difficulties and a retired out-and-about-in-the-big-smoke kinda gal.
My blog Lost In Mumness is a collection of my ramblings, figuring out the new normal of how to adult like a proper wife and mum, juggling all the responsibilities that brings whilst trying to stay true to all of the other bits of me that are important & make up who I am.”