I asked myself this question, Easter 2 years ago (2015), as I wrote in my diary…
“Is there something wrong with me connected to being a mum?”
At this point I was ill – not quite at my most severe – but very ill, all the same.
I hated going out. I had regular panic attacks EVERYWHERE. I barely ate, couldn’t sleep, obsessed over things until my brain was too tired to compute anymore, I was physically a wreck with all sorts of tests taking place (read more on the depths of PND and my health HERE).
On this morning, writing in my journal, I was soul-searching. I was crying out to discover why my life had literally fallen apart and I desperately wanted to know where it had all gone wrong.
I got to the point of asking the question “Is there something wrong with me connected to being a mum?” for this reason:
Two weeks previously, a mum had invited Reuben and I to come along to a group she organised. My heart leapt. On one hand I was desperate to go. I was so very lonely and knew I needed to get make at least one “mum friend” to survive this journey. I also thought it would be good for both Reuben and I to be around others – it seemed the “normal” thing that everyone else was doing regularly and I so desperately wanted to be “normal”.
On the other hand? Well that was a whole other story – there was two weeks before the event taking place. All hell broke loose in my mind. I was terrified. I panicked every time I thought about it. I got myself in such a state with the “what if’s” –
What if they don’t like me? What if they don’t like Reuben? What if he’s naughty and they think I’m an awful mum? What if he won’t he won’t settle? What if I forget how to look after him, in front of everyone? ….But really this was at the heart of it – What if they realise that I’m not really a mum, that I’m not really Reuben’s mum?
(If that’s the first time you have heard me say that you might not be aware that my initial reaction to being handed my beautiful little baby boy was “That’s not my baby, I haven’t had a baby”. That feeling/belief was still part of me here, when he was 1.5 years. In fact, when I sat with my GP 6 months later, Reuben 2 years old, I said – “I still can’t understand that he’s mine. Yes, I can rationally accept the evidence (birth etc) but my mind refuses to believe that he belongs to me”.)
I spent the whole weekend before the event (Monday morning) crying. When the morning arrived I texted to say that I couldn’t make it. Part of me was so very relieved. I could hide at home (again) and didn’t need to engage with the world around me. Deep down I wasn’t surprised. As soon as I hit send on the text a voice in my head said “Oh, well there’s a surprise…NOT. You useless, waste of space mum. You can’t even take your lovely little boy out for an hour. USELESS”.
Of course, while Reuben napped (instead of being at the event) I cried. But I also got out my journal and began to truly soul search. That’s when I asked the question “Is there something wrong with me connected to being a mum?”
I’ll admit, it was a bit of a fleeting though. I noted down a few things that seemed to have been going on in my head, since Reuben was born. But very quickly went back to – “You missed the mum gene, Lindsay”, “This is just your fault”, “Suck it up, you made the mess, now deal with it”.
But as I look back, I think the seed was sown. At the very least it was the very early days of the process of me beginning to understand and accept what was wrong with me. I engaged with the question for a fleeting moment, maybe not long enough but definitely all I could, at that point.
It took about another 4/5 months for me to officially be diagnosed and start treatment.
Even as I wrote those words I had NO IDEA that PND or any Perinatal Mental Illness was even an option – I was clueless to what that even was, that it even existed. But in my confused, anxious, exhausted mind I NOW see I was fighting for survival. I was fighting for my life. I was fighting the (unknown) illness as best I could.
During the next 4/5 months, I became severely ill. To the point where I wanted to give up on life altogether – “I want to die” where words my husband often heard. Or “Lock me in a room and never come back for me”.
I WISH I’d know about Perinatal Mental Health. But I didn’t. That makes me even more determined to continue raising awareness and supporting any and every mum that comes my way.
Mummy – if you are reading this and struggling and wondering “what’s going on with me”, it’s okay to talk, it’s okay to ask, it’s okay to say – you are not alone. You deserve to be heard. You deserve to get the support that you need. Please don’t be afraid to share with someone how you honestly feel or what you are really thinking. You can get help, you can get better, this is not the end.