It sounds like a silly question. With an obvious answer – of course not.
But lately I have started to question myself, (and in the process others) about this.
What does my post natal depression give me?
aI once read a brilliant biography about a young girl with anorexia – as part of her treatment she was asked to write two letters, ‘To anorexia my friend’ and ‘To anorexia my enemy’ the process helped her to understand her illness better. My reflection of late has led me to do the same.
Dear PND, My friend,
Thank you, thank you for making me special, thank you for making me stand out from the crowd. Yes, I am an attention seeker, and you help me with this. Being vulnerable makes people look after me, I get their time and their care- this is down to you.
You give me an excuse, a reason to sit and stare rather than dust and clean. You allow me to indulge in cake and chocolate.
Most of all you protect me, you protect me from the expectation people have of me, (the expectation I have of myself), to be perfect. The expectation that I should never make mistakes, that I should solve the world’s problems. With you by my side this expectation is not so strong. With you next to me I can’t possibly do this. I can’t face the list of things to do, the list of ways to better myself, not with you to care for.
You give me an identity. A purpose.
Thank you PND, Thank you- but it is time for me to move on. Time for us to part ways and start a new life alone.
The above is hard to admit, and I deeply fear the judgment it will no doubt bring. But, there are two sides to every story, even ones of mental health…
Dear PND, My Enemy,
I really hate you. I mean really hate you. I know that’s not a particularly clever way of wording it, but it’s true.
You have taken so much from me, and tainted so much of what I have.
My memories of the first few days and hours of my daughter’s life have been stained by you. Stained with regret and stained with images of failure. Family and friends tell me the true image does not contain these things, so why do you put them there?
You give me tears, taking from me the happy, relaxed mummy that I know I should be.
You give me guilt. So much guilt. This is a gift I do not want.
You have taken my confidence, my motivation and my ability to stand up for myself. You have left me paranoid and scared, unable to distinguish praise from mockery. You have created in me a monster who reads negativity into everything, who assumes the glance was one of hatred and the smile was one of contempt. I fear my colleagues and I don’t trust my friends- you have planted this seed in me and you continue to water it.
Enough. No more. It’s time to leave.
Get out PND, you are not welcome and I will feed you no more.
It is true, I do not want to be depressed. I want to be happy. I want to enjoy my life, afterall, I have everything I have ever wanted.
So, while it is true that PND does give me something, it is something I no longer want.
Perhaps we all cling on to something, something we neither like nor want, but that a part of us seems to need or crave. Well, I am letting go of mine, I invite you to do the same.