I have a recovery goal list.
I drew it up with my therapist over 5 months ago and slowly I have been ticking off each goal as I pass it.
When I drew it up I imagined that when I had ticked off all the goals I would be fully recovered. No more anxiety, no more low moods, just me enjoying motherhood as a new mum should.
But as I’m getting to the end of my goals list I realise my anxiety and low moods still haven’t left me. And its made me question…
‘what does recovery from postnatal depression look like?’
Over Christmas me and the kids traveled home to Belfast to see our family. As I stepped off the plane, kissing the ground and sighing relief that I had made the flight to Belfast on my own with two kids, I had a thought…
I had conquered one of my biggest fears, I had traveled with two children on my own and we were all safe, but I still was in the clutches of anxiety. If I had just ticked one of my biggest goals off why was I not recovered?
Or was I recovered?
Was recovery just me living with anxiety? An unwanted leaving gift from PND, just so I wouldn’t forget her.
Even through anxiety I have been having a lot more good days than bad. So it didn’t scare me so much when I missed my medication one night whilst in Belfast, if this was me recovered maybe I wouldn’t need my medication so much anymore. However 2 days later and another two nights of medication missed, I realised that recovery still may be a long way off. The first hurdle that came my way I stumbled. And not just a little, my face hit the dirt.
It amazed me how quickly my mood plummeted, that the tears, self loathing and thoughts of how much better everyone would be without me here came in.
So now I’m stuck.
My list of goals is quickly ending but my blip has shown me just how much my recovery is dependent of my medication.
Why am I not recovered?
What does recovered mean?
I’m so confused.
But not knowing means I don’t know what I am working towards. I feel I need to know what recovery I can hope for in order to find peace with it in my battle.
So I did the only thing I knew how.
I asked Twitter.
The #pndfamily to be precise. (How did we ever live without the internet and Google)
This group of PND fighters, survivors, supporters and campaigners are one of the greatest lifelines I have found in my recovery. If you have a stumble they are there to offer advice and to pick you up.
According to the PND family recovery is..
- A journey
I thought this was a beautiful way to describe recovery, that we are ever changing and perhaps what made us happy before, no longer does. Our happiness is changing as we do. It gives me hope that my recovery may not mean going back to the old me, but its a journey to the new me, a better version maybe.
2. Recovery means coping
The butterfly mother wrote a beautiful post on accepting the journey to beat PND. That there may not a set recovered stage but that we learn to manage our feelings and accept just being you, the you you are now, not the old you. I have been afraid that ‘recovered’ means I’m stuck carrying the bitch that is PND. If it is the case, Maybe I’ll gain the tools to manage my feelings, carting PND with the support of a baby carrier rather that trailing her along with my bare hands.
3. Recovery is when you have the ability to fight it.
Perhaps we can say we are recovering once we gain the bravery to stand up to PND and say, ‘OY, you cow, fu@k off!’. I do agree that since the moment I’ve stood up and wanted to kick 50 shades of blue out of my PND I have felt better. And that does increase as the weeks go on.
4. Recovery will include scar’s
As I have been recovering I have noticed the fact that PND has left me with a few war wounds. Not only has PND gifted me with anxiety, certain smells, places or noises can trigger me back to my worst days and leave me feeling scared. I don’t think I will ever get over these but this may not mean I’m not recovering.
5. Recovery isn’t a straight road
Honest Mumma beautifully writes how recovering from PND is a journey of highs and lows. One day we might feel brilliant, the next we’re back in bed wondering if its possible to marry and start up a life with your bed covers. Maybe we will never get back to where we once where, perhaps we have to keep travelling forward, to a new us with more wisdom and thankfulness for life.
But what do I think?
From the help of these amazing people, I’ve came to my conclusion about my recovery. Looking back at the start of my journey over 3 years ago and where I am now I can say that I’ve knocked the shit out of PND more than she has me and that maybe, just maybe, I’m out of her grasps. She’s took a beating and is holding onto me for life, but I’m stronger and I can carry her. So I keep moving forward ever so slightly loosing her bit by bit. However her claws have left me with scars. They will heal, but they will always hurt when touched.
I no longer believe in a miraculous recovery back to the person I was. Instead I’m heading in a new direction, towards a new me. I already feel like a better me. Im more empathetic, and understanding.
I may never come off medication, its my crutch. But right now I dont think that bothers me. If I had a heart condition or diabetes I would be taking medication for life to keep me alive. So why can’t it be the same for mental health. My medication keep me alive. And that’s how I want it to stay.
So come on PND get in the baby carrier, I’ve got a fucking mountain to climb! And I’m throwing you off at the top of it!
Thank you to all those who helped me find my theory of recovery xx
The butterfly mother