Occasionally, it rains.

I made it through the storm of depression. The winds were strong and the waves were high. My boat was rocked, it took on water, heck, it even capsized at points. But I made it out the other side.  I found land and my family is happy. I am happy. 

I now say things like “I suffered with awful Post Natal Depression when I had my first child” and “I’m so lucky that this time around I’ve been well”.  I am well.  I am no longer depressed.  The sun shines and I have been happy for a long time. 

But, occasionally, it rains. Like all habitable climates my mood experiences the odd scattering of clouds. Sometimes the sky is a bit darker and, yes, occasionally it rains. 

Rain is not depression.  Rain is a bad day. Actually rain allows the flowers to grow, in turn making the sunnier days more attractive and more appreciated. The bad days allow us to cherish the better days with more passion and more love. 

Rain is real life.  Rain is an inevitable, unavoidable part of life. Noone wants the sun to shine all the time.  It would be too warm, too bright, too dry.  We wouldn’t appreciate it.  It only takes a week of sun for people to complain, but, let that sun break through a dreary, wet weekend, and it is loved with more passion than cake at a party.

I will say it again because it’s important: rain is not depression.  
A bad day is not a storm. 

The sun shines, the sky is bright, the breeze cools us and yes, occasionally, it rains. 

Advertisements

What does post natal depression feel like?

I am a survivor. I am surviving. There were times I did not think I would.

Now, with the clouds above my head allowing sunlight through, I find myself reflecting.

My husband, a kind, generous, sensible, modern man, is not a great believer of mental illness. It is one of very very few areas on which we disagree. A disagreement this evening has led to his admission that he is only now starting to understand how ill I have been.

And so am I.

It is an impossible thing to describe to someone, but I am going to try. Post natal depression, for me, was, at its worst, a series of questions and statements. My post natal depression was triggered by the financial necessity that I returned to work when my daughter was less that six months. This still haunts me.

Why can’t I stop crying?
I cried a lot. And I mean a lot. It breaks my heart that my memories of my daughters early life are seen through blurry eyes and tears. I know, people cry, it doesn’t make them depressed. But when that crying becomes a large part of your daily activity, when that crying becomes the first and the last thing in yours day, there is a problem. When your eyelids swell from crying so much, when your face mottled with dried on tears, then, those tears are taking control.

I did everything wrong, and I am still doing everything wrong now.
I feel guilty. I didn’t do labor ‘properly’, I didn’t have enough skin to skin, I didn’t hold my daughter enough at the start, the house is messy, I haven’t cooked for my husband and I haven’t been the mother or wife I should have been. I watch too much TV, I don’t read to my daughter enough, I eat too much, I eat too little, I failed and am still failing at everything.

I’ll never get that time back.
My baby girl is already grown, I missed it. I looked away and I missed it. It hurts, I’ll never regain the time I missed, ever. Time has taken my baby and I let it.

I don’t remember that.
Now, this one is different, and this one scares me. There are chunks of January and February that I can’t remember. Colleagues have talked with me about days I “seemed a bit out of it” and told me of things I did. I have no memory of these days. January and February were very dark days, my mind seemed to have shut them away, to protect me from the pain.

I’m tired.
Curled up here in bed, with my daughter on my breast, we could sleep all day, we could snuggle and pretend the world is OK. We don’t need to leave the room and face the reality outside. Let’s stay here, let’s forget the truth, let’s avoid thoughts of how much I have failed, of how soon my maternity leave will be finished and how much I will miss you.

How could you say that? You don’t love me at all.
You don’t understand. It hurts, I miss her when she is near me, the thought of her being more than arms reach away leaves me short of breath. My stomach hurts and my eyes sting. I can’t swallow and my pulse races. You don’t understand. Nobody loves her as much as I do, and I am failing her.

Everyone is judging me.
Everyone. They are laughing at me, they are mocking me. Every Facebook status I write, posts I share in a bid to convince myself, and those around me that my world isn’t falling apart, they laugh at them all. They whisper, they snigger and they talk about what a bad mother I am.

I am a bad bad bad mother.

I deserve to feel this way.
If I had done things differently I would be happy, this is therefore my fault.

I don’t deserve to feel this way.
But I tried, I really tried. I love my daughter, I work hard, I am a good person. It’s not fair that it hurts this much. Life hurts. Life itself actually hurts.

I need to snap out of it
My husband is fed up of seeing me like this, I need to put that brave face back in. It must stop skipping, pretend pretend pretend.

Why won’t anybody help me?
Please. Anyone. I need to be a mother, why won’t anyone help me? Please. Please.

The ultimate question. Would everyone just be better off if I wasn’t here?

And so, the next time you hear of someone who is depressed, a new mum, struggling with their new world and an overload of feelings, please don’t dismiss them. Please don’t roll your eyes and sigh to your friends about “attention seeking” or “drama queen”.

Just be thankful that it is not you.

Happiness. I owe it to my daughter.

image

Post Natal Depression is a horribly selfish illness. Not selfish in the way that many assume, not always selfish in the “I don’t want to spend time with my child, I want my own life back” way that is the common perception. But, for me at least, selfish nonetheless.

I feel guilty all the time, I constantly feel like I am failing my daughter, (despite much evidence to the contrary) and I often find myself crying without reason. The selfish side is in my lack of happiness. My daughter is a happy, smiling, amazing girl. At 9 months she is the light in the dark, and thankfully, she seems completely unaware that her mother is a wreck. But I fear this will not last. My PND is selfish because I owe it to her to be happy.

Like all parents I want my daughter to grow up to be happy. She can be rich, famous, intelligent, married, single, unemployed, a stay at home mother, a business woman or anything else she wants, I don’t mind what path she chooses for her life, as long as she is happy.

My daughter will learn from me. Like it or not, I am the most influential person in her life. Therefore, I want my influence to be a good one. My happiness is essential, not for my own mental health, but for hers.

Imagine the following; as a child of six you see your mother drop a bottle of milk the kitchen floor, it smashes and the milk goes everywhere. She says, ‘Whooops, never mind, accidents happen.’ As a child, learning from their mother, you will learn not to panic, you will learn that accidents happen and are not the end of the world.

Alternatively, at age six you see your mother drop a bottle of milk on the floor and she says, ‘Oh no, what a disaster! I keep getting things wrong, I am so stupid and can never do anything right, now everything is ruined, I spoil everything.’ As a child learning from their mother in this situation your learning would be very different. You would learn that mistakes are awful, that there is blame and that when things go wrong it is very difficult to fix.

I do not want this for my daughter. I want her to learn love, to learn happiness and to learn resilience.

I want her to have what I call “bouncebackability”. I don’t want her to spend her life full of anxiety, jealousy, concern, sadness or fear. I want her to get back up after falls. I want her smile and intelligence to change the world.

Therefore I need to be a role model. If I want her to be happy, to be calm and to be confident then that is what she must see in me.

Happiness. I owe it to her.

Myth busting, (or why I told the Facebook world about my PND)

The Diary of an Insecure Mother

I shared.  I opened up to the Facebook world. I admitted to my post natal depression.

It was terrifying- and it was done somewhat impulsively, but I am pleased I did.

I realised that as long as I, and others like me, continue to keep quiet about things like this, then change will not come.

I was scared of judgement, scared of what people will think about me.

Yes, I have PND, let me explain to you what that means, and what it does not mean.

I do not regret being a mother. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a mum, and now I am I feel complete. My life, pre motherhood, was missing a piece, and now it is not.  I have regrets about labour, I have regrets about how I parented in the early days, but not for one second have I ever regretted…

View original post 1,025 more words

One New Years Resolution to Really Concentrate On.

Like the majority of the population, I make new years resolutions every year, and like most, they are failed or forgotten about by mid January.  So, this year I am ignoring the usual sea of promises to eat less and exercise more, and have made one simple resolution.

BE HAPPY

As least I call it simple.  In fact, it is anything but. 

2013 made me the happiest person in the world by gifting my husband and I with our first child. Our beautiful and clever girl has changed both our lives.  However, having previously suffered with the unattractive problem depression, I now find myself battling it’s even less attractive sister, post natal depression.  As the world gave with one hand, it well and truly slapped me round the face with the other.  PND carries with it a huge stigma, with the incorrect assumption that the mother doesn’t love their child, or that the mother doesn’t bond with the baby.  In my case this really could not be more wrong.  My daughter is my world, she has already become my best friend. For me, the depression stems from anxiety.  Anxiety that I will not be the perfect mother she needs and deserves me to be, anxiety that something may happen.  And above all, guilt.  As the main breadwinner of the family I will be returning to work when my daughter is 10 days short of 6 months old.  This separation terrifies me. 

However, I digress, I will write more on my PND and how I have coped/continue to cope with it, as the blog progresses, but for now, back to the resolution.

Be happy.  A woman of lists and plans I have broken this resolution into steps.

  • Count my blessings
  • Remember those that matter
  • Unclutter my life, (including my brain and my to do list!)
  • Be a better wife
  • Ask for help
  • Stop comparing myself to others
  • Give everything I do my full attention
  • Don’t obsess
  • Cut down on facebook

My seemingly impossible resolution has already become a whole lot harder.  But I am determined.

Cutting down on facebook may seem like an odd one to many, to those who unlike me do not find themselves mindlessly checking facebook on their phone at least 30 times a day, even in the middle of conversations with people they genuinely find interesting.  Sadly, I am one of those obsessed few, (see penultimate point above) I found myself changing my status an irritating 3 times a day, and adding photos just as often.  Without noticing Facebook has somehow become my means of validation. People I otherwise wouldn’t think twice about not only get to comment on my life- they get to choose to ignore me to- and for some reason I don’t yet understand- this bothers me. So, at midnight last night, (well actually just after while I was breastfeeding baby – another topic you can expect more posts on) I deleted facebook from my phone.  Eeeek!  Before 9 am I had turned on my phone no less than 14 times to check facebook, only to remember it had gone.  So far, 2014 has been facebook free, (yes I realise it’s only 1st Jan!)  I am sure I will end up back there, but I like to think that I will be able to self moderate my usage after a period of cold turkey. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Be happy.  Day 1. So far so good…