Do you remember that dream of falling in love as a child, where you met the love of your life, you can’t keep your hands off each other, you never have been so in love, you can’t live without one another, you skip merrily down the aisle together bonded for life and as you both welcome your perfect bundle of joy into your life it cements your love forever making your relationship even more perfect than it was before.
Sorry to burst that bubble but its just that, a dream!
Kids don’t make your relationship perfect, if anything they put a hell of a lot of strain on it. I love my husband to the moon and back but since we had our children I could probably count the number of times we have had quality time together in my one hand. And the cant keep our hands off each other phase passed on when he tragically looked the south end when I was giving birth. Always stay north, ALWAYS!
But with postnatal depression (PND) the strain can become even worse. I write a lot about my feelings but really my husband probably suffers just as much as I do because of my moods, especially before I started treatment.
We never really focus on the effect it has on your partner or support network when discussing PND, but I thought it was important to dedicate a post to those in our lives who help us through the struggle. It can be hard to deal with never knowing what to do or say or how to help.
Every persons experience of PND is different but below are a few helpful tips to give you insight into how to support that special person in your life going through this hell.
When the low mood and anxiety kicks in being intimate with someone is the last thing on our minds. Its not that we don’t love you. Really you are probably the one person we need most in our lives right now, but it’s difficult to be intimate with anyone when we are so lost in an internal battle.
As for the ‘S’ word, it ain’t happening guys, not when we are feeling our worst. And no it’s not because we ‘don’t fancy you anymore’, but that act got us into this mess so 1. we are shit scared that you might implant the spawn of Satan within us and 2. if we concentrate on anything but getting a few precious moments of sleep, or a minute to ourselves, we know that the said spawn will either wake up or scream the house down. Both of which we can’t cope with just now.
Choose your words carefully
We are a little touchy right now. We’re not feeling the most confident in ourselves so the littlest comments by anyone else can set us on the defense or bring us down 20 steps. There are a few key things never to say to us or any new mum for that matter:
- ‘Have you done anything today?’ – Woa, have you just called my a lazy fat bastard? Yep that’s right, that’s what we take from that. The house might look like a tip, your dinner isn’t on, and we are still in the same pajamas from 2 days ago, however if the kids are still alive and fed, we have done a shit ton today. Be happy we are still here and pretend our chocolate stained pj’s are the sexiest things you have ever seen!
- ‘When are you gonna start feeling better?’ – You saying I’m a psycho? You can’t cope with me? Are you leaving? Frenzy continues until we are a blubbering screaming wreck on the floor. Just don’t ask! Ever!
- ‘Is this another part of your depression?’– Do you value your life at all? Comments like these make us feel like you just told us we are talking a load of shit and our feelings are worthless. Which means probably a punch in the gut for you and a crying us locked in a room.
- ‘It cant be that hard! – You’re about to be castrated! Your job may end at 5 o’clock, our’s however goes straight from day shift into night shift with no break in between. So while you are enjoying your 4th hot coffee of the day and having adult conversation, think about us up to our elbows in shit and vomit, needing a shit ourselves but having to hold it in because this lovely child of ours is screaming in our arms, out of our arms, on its bottle, in its sleep and then think how easy our job is now. Annnnnnndddd breath.
I know it can be frustrating living with us, but please don’t get angry and go ape shit on us. Get a punch bag, go for a run, burn your anger off some other way. If you take it out on us it will put us 12 steps back and probably even more distant from you.
Anger seems to be a major bi-product of PND. It wont take much to make us angry or frustrated, and I know it makes you feel like you are walking on egg shells but deep down it’s not you who we are really angry with. It’s just fucking life. But whatever you do don’t let us pull you into a mum funk anger storm, it’s gonna make us worse. Just talk us through it to calm us down. Your probably best shoving a sorry in there somewhere for good measure too.
We are screaming for help, but you might not hear us because the word help doesn’t usually come out of our mouths. It comes in the form of tears, screams and long silences.
Helping can be as simple as running us a bath, Taking the kid(s), washing the dishes, cooking tea or running the hoover around. These little things can take one more stress off our day. And one less stress gives us one less worry to beat ourselves up about.
Don’t leave us alone (For too long)
Although we may not talk much or show you much attention please don’t take that as ‘there is no point in you being here’ or ‘I’ll give her some space’. Sometimes our mood or anxiety can get so bad we can’t talk. It’s physically impossible. We could explode into a million tiny pieces if we do.
But we need someone there, someone just to sit silently with, someone that we feel comfortable to sit in silence with, someone to be there just in case our thoughts get to much for us, someone who can help if we need it and that someone is you.
Talk to a professional
My health visitor has been brilliant at helping my family understand and help with my PND. When things went really bad and I had to return to Belfast for extra support she helped not just me but my husband who had to carry on life at home on his own.
It’s normal for you to feel down and scared at this time too, and talking to a professional about it can help you gain an understanding on it all or get the help you may need also.
There are also sites you can visit for more info:
Talk to us
We are scared, about lot of things, but losing our family including you is one of the biggest. Talk to us, tell us how you are feeling because otherwise we will think the worst. Being catastrophic about things is normal in PND so on those days when you are tired or anxious yourself, we have probably came to conclusion you’ve had enough, you’ve packed your stuff and your moving to Miami with a barbie look alike right this minute.
Recovery isn’t a overnight thing. It can take months or years. But it will get better.
Some days we may be the best we have ever been, and then the next day we fall back into the dark abyss. Don’t get frustrated at step backs, recovery isn’t a straight path. It goes up and down, but with patience and understanding we will get to the top of the mountain faster.
But Remember throughout it all…
We love you!!!
Well I might not love you but you get my drift!