I can’t tell if therapy is working.
I had a lot of preconceptions about what therapy would be like before I experienced it. My idea was that I would talk the ear of some uninterested middle aged bald man, while he randomly spouts ‘and how does that make you feel?’ to make it seem like hes still listening. (I’ve watched too many episodes of Fraiser.)
In a nutshell, its not much different, apart from the uninterested therapist part. God bless my therapist, she listens intently to my gob smacking admissions and thoughts without a hint of judgement, shock or yawn. But the prominent question of my sessions is ‘and how does that make you feel?’.
Right now therapy has helped me understand why I have postnatal depression, but it hasn’t helped me control it yet. Maybe I’ll get there later in my journey. But right now, therapy makes me feel deflated. I constantly rehash old experiences and relive them again making me feel like I’m picking off an almost healed scab for it to burn raw and hurt worse than before.
But refreshingly in my latest session I got a new question lashed at me. One which made my ears prick up and the cogs in my head turn. I was asked why I had felt so negatively of PND before I acknowledged having it?
It was a good question and one which I had to dig deep to find the answer to.
Right now I feel no shame in having this illness. I have depression, so what, so do thousands of other women in the UK. It doesn’t make me a bad mother or person, yet I didn’t always think like this.
Before I admitted defeat to the little mean lady in my head I hid every negative feeling I had because I was ashamed to admit I was suffering from this illness. To me having it was as bad as catching Ebola. A virus which would rot away at me and everything in my life until I was no more.
But why did I feel like this?
Because my culture/society made me think so.
Mental illness is still such a taboo subject. No one speaks about it.But not speaking about it means not many have a true understanding of it.
In today’s society where social media gives everyone a soapbox to shout their (mostly uneducated) views to millions, that lack of understanding can be dangerous.
Society told me that if I admitted to having postnatal depression, social services would take my children away from me. PND taught me that that was a load of shite.
Society told me if people knew I had PND they would be disgusted in me. PND taught me that people would be understanding and supportive.
Society told me PND made me a bad mum. PND taught me that I was a good mum fighting hard each day to be even better.
Society told me that if I had PND I would want to kill myself or my children. PND taught me that although some days I feel worthless that I need to fight to live for my two children.
Having PND doesn’t make you a monster. Since acknowledging my depression I’ve realised I gained PND because I care so much about so many things and it becomes overwhelming.
Society is what makes PND fighters feel like monsters. There are more negative stories out there about women with PND than there are positive. Middle aged women’s (I can say this as I now am one) magazines like ‘Take a Shit’ or ‘Chat – a load of balls’seem to take pride in releasing horror stories of women with PND who have had kids taken off them, killed their families or burnt their houses down. Even if these stories are true they are one in a million cases of PND.
With the right treatment none of this happens. Media of this type stops further women from admitting to their feelings, which I know from myself not coming out about my feelings and thoughts for three years, is a dangerous game to play.
Alongside this I don’t think enough is done to educate mothers to be about PND. I know in both my pregnancies it was never discussed at anti natal classes and I never had a mental health care plan in place. The only thing I did receive both times was a shitty leaflet from the Health Visitors that stated ‘having post natal depression can have long term effects and damage your relationships’. Well if your weren’t scared of having PND already, you sure where after reading that.
But take it from me, having PND and getting treatment is a lot easier than having PND and trying to ignore it.
I realise now there is no shame in it, and I’m a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and general human being, now that I am having the right treatment, than I ever was before.
Please don’t suffer in silence if you are feeling low. Even if you are scared to talk to a professional I’m always here for anyone looking advice. Or search #PNDchat on twitter to find an amazing family of PND fighters with a lot more positive and real stories of surviving this illness.
No one needs to suffer alone.