Happiness. I owe it to my daughter.


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.


Strap yourself in first.

I had a massage today. I needed it. I’ve had a horrible week, I really needed it.

But I found the process of doing something so indulgent, so totally selfish, a very strange process indeed. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had massages before, I’ve been pampered and spoiled. But since I’ve been a mother, not so much. The guilt I feel when I am away from my little miss takes any joy out of the me time.

Today was different.

I’ll start at the beginning. I’ve had a horrible week.

Monday was OK, a sad day away from my little one after a lovely weekend but I got through. My milk supply while pumping at work was a little lower than usual, but a collegue kept me company so it wasn’t as lonely a day as they have been so far.

Tuesday, as usual baby fed from 3am to 5.30am. (her new trick since I’ve been back at work). I fell asleep mid feed, not unusual, but this time it resulted in a bad neck. So bad I couldn’t drive to work. I decided, for some reason, that I would still go to work and got a lift with a work friend. Milk supply was right down, neck was agony, day was very stressful. Being back at work for so long has really hit and my mood is very very low.

Wednesday, neck sore but the ability to look left has returned. Long day at work, but milk supply returning to normal. Breakdown at home, hating being away and hating being so isolated at work. Rarely seeing another adult due to expressing and feeling horribly alone.

Thursday, my later start at work. Neck worse than ever, barely able to move. I have my standard PND review with the doctor first thing. Anti dependants dosage is increased and doctor recommends speaking with my head teacher. She also looks at my neck. We suspect that stress and tension are not helping. For some reason, I foolishly decide that work, and parents evening, will be fine. My long suffering amazing husband drives me in and arranges to pick me up at 7. He is not impressed with my decision as he has always said “if you are not well enough to drive then you are not well enough to work”. He was right. After 2 hours I am in tears with the pain. I break down on a staff member about feeling so alone and share my guilt at having to be away from my darling. Hubby returns to get me at 3.

Friday, day off. Yay. Baby sensory and a massage. Hubby has to drive and come to baby sensory. By this point I am struggling to pick up my baby.

When on a plane, during safety talks, we are reminded of the need to fit our own oxygen masks before those of our children. To strap ourselves in first. As a teacher I have always understood that I need to look after myself before I can be effective in the classroom. As a parent I have so far forgotten this. My strap has been left very much undone.

So, today I strapped myself in. I took another step towards reclaiming my happiness. And it was amazing. This was a full on massage. A massage of the paper pants variety. Hot oil, steam, showers, not an inch of my body, (bar my breastfeeding boobs) was left untouched. I came home a happier, calmer and more relaxed mummy. (With a neck that is almost back to normal!)

It was strange doing something so totally selfish, something which benefited only me. But on reflection, I now feel more able to enjoy the weekend, and surely that’s good for my family too?

If you feel depressed or sad, or guilty or down, you time can be a real challenge. Being alone with your thoughts can feel dangerous and it’s easy to think that you don’t deserve the pampering. I urge you, strap yourself in. I did, and it has helped. Sure, it hasn’t fixed me, it will take more than a massage to do that, but I can see now, I am worth it, and I do deserve it.

I really do.