3 1/2 years I’ve been fighting with Postnatal Depression (PND) and only in the last 6 months have I talked about it, with anyone!
For 3 years since having my first child I fought that black dog down into the back of mind,but it never disappeared, all it did was manifest, changing me into a mean, angry, sad and lonely person. I was too afraid to admit to myself never mind anyone else that I was suffering.
Leaving it for so long without treatment give my PND the opportunity to take me over. To change me into a PND robot set to auto destruct. My mood wasn’t just low, it was full of anger, self hatred and insecurity. I cut people off for the littlest things thinking they meant me harm. I couldn’t show affection unless it was on my terms. My self esteem crumbled as all I could hear in my head was, ‘your ugly’, ‘your a shit mother’, ‘your husband doesn’t want you’, ‘no one likes you’. So the only way to cope was to pretend not to give a shit, to distance myself from all of them so no one could hurt me emotionally when I couldn’t take anymore emotional battering.
When my second child was born, and the black cloud engulfed me even more I found that not giving a shit wasn’t working. I was drowning and in so much pain, and if I didn’t speak up I was going to go away forever. I wouldn’t survive.
And thank god I did.
I don’t think I could have not spoken up this time. I was in so much pain emotionally and physically that crying for help was a natural instinct. If I didn’t I think I would have died. But I needed to be here, I wanted my life how I knew it could it be if I just finally got myself better. I wanted happiness.
But I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I needed support. But there was only so much support that those who hadn’t been through this could give me. I needed to know that I wasn’t a strange anomaly so I could begin to heal knowing that I wasn’t the only one.
But finding that was difficult.
I live in west Wirral, where predominantly the elite reside. A lot of mothers here have nothing wrong with them, oh no because that would bring them down the rankings in the perfect mother competition that goes on in most of the baby groups I attended. I once admitted in one about my mum funk, well all at once I seen them mentally mark me down 100 points on the mum chart. I could even hear their imaginary pencils scratching their mental score cards through the silence my admission had drawn. Even the screaming children stopped to give me a look of pure bemusement and joy that I had taken myself out of the competition so they and their try hard mamas could take the lead.
I try not to mama hate but I guess this competitive mothering is something I’m not used to coming from Belfast, were to refer to your child as ‘a wee shit’ is an endearment.
So I didn’t go back there again.
I tried Sure Start, and although the girls who worked there were wonderful and understanding, due to government cuts in funding their PND programs had been cut. I tried PANDAS, alas a group made specifically for me. Er no, unfortunately they aren’t set up in my area and the lady who was trying to set it up never replied to my email. I looked online, but I couldn’t find a real life person to talk to face to face. I was alone.
Only the hard work of my health visitor paid off, who found me a perfect group to attend, thanks to Home Start. I was referred to the group by my HV and thankfully around 20 weeks into my recovery I found myself in a room surrounded by real life women going through PND. And its changed my life. There is nothing like developing friendships with people who are able to understand but most of all not judge your thoughts and feelings. These girls are my lifeline and next week is the last our group will be meeting as our 9 week course is over. It wont be the end of us as friends, no we will be meeting each other for regular cups of semi warm tea and coffee in a spot where our children can entertain themselves for at least 2 minutes.
But its time for a new group of women to come and band another team of super women. Before I started the group I was given a letter written from a girl in the group before mine. In this letter it was described to me how much I would get out of this experience and what a difference it made to her life. And rather than being afraid of going to a new environment or to talk to new people, I found myself kicking through the door on my first day mentally screaming, ‘HI NEW FRIENDS!’. I didn’t say that out loud though, I knew I might scare them off, I instead tried to play it cool. 😉
So in tradition, here is my letter to the next group of amazing ladies.Even if you are not joining the ‘you in mind’ group in Wirral, hopefully this will inspire you to reach out to join others in your area. It really will help xxx
So now its your turn.
Your turn to realise you aren’t alone.
10 weeks ago I thought I was never going to recover. I thought I was going to be alone in this struggle forever. Constantly feeling different from other mothers and getting myself even further down because of it.
But the moment I opened the doors to this group, I knew, I wasn’t going to be alone anymore.
I know its scary taking the big step to put yourself in a new situation with new people but you’ve made the biggest step already. You’ve spoken out about how you feel. That’s probably one of the most scariest steps of your journey, getting help. You don’t need to be afraid of making the step to join this group. Your going to meet amazing strong women like you, who fight this bitch PND everyday. There will be no one to judge you, no one to make you feel even worse about yourself. What you are going to find is acceptance, understanding and most of all FRIENDS!
Since attending this group I’ve made 6 great new friends. I usually find it hard to make new friends being so self conscious, but there is something amazing in this group of how you can instantly connect to one another because of the pain you each share. We each have a different journey but together we can support each other having the understanding of what this illness feels like. At last I feel safe, because even if I do spiral again I know I have these girls to pull me back up. And you will have this too.
You don’t need to share your journey if you don’t want to, you can talk as much or as little as you need, but you can enjoy just being in a safe place with your child. This group is my safe haven and I am devastated that’s its now over, but its your turn to experience it.
Be brave, take the step and I promise you, you’ll never be alone again.
All my love