The fifth day of World Maternal Mental Health Week is all about #fearlessfriday. Today women who are or who have suffered from a maternal mental illness are sharing their stories of survival, bringing hope and awareness to the world that the mental health of mothers is just as important as our physical health. Today I have one fearless mother who has supported me through a lot of the hard times and is ready to tell her story.
This is Samanthas story…
My PND began, I now know, whilst in labour with my first child. As a first time mum I had grand ideas about a wonderful peaceful home birth, it was all planned, pool in the lounge ready to go. In reality I laboured at home for 3 days, used the pool but the baby couldn’t be monitored so was moved out like a beached whale and ended up being shifted to hospital during Monday morning rush hour…… anyway after a very difficult and white frankly traumatic birth I has my boy. My heart was lifted and all was fabulous or so I thought.
We returned home with our beautiful baby and things began to fall apart. I couldn’t breast feed and received no help, so I gave up. First fail. My son had allergies but it took months to diagnose. Second fail. I held in all the feelings I had because my priority wasn’t me anymore it wass looking after my poor screaming child, we knew he wasn’t happy but we were turned away again and again by doctors telling us he was just a baby, babies cry, we’re first time parents so we just didn’t understand. I did however understand that a baby shouldn’t scream 14 hours a day and I shouldn’t have felt like I wasn’t a good mum.
Eventually my little boy got the right diagnosis and he stopped screaming and we finally managed to start enjoying our baby and life as a new family. However for me it was just a mask, I still felt like I wasn’t a good mum, like I’d failed him and me. I had no one to talk to about how I was feeling. I didn’t think my husband would understand, and having moved away from down south my family and friends were a long way and I felt alone.
I started to feel trapped by my feelings so eventually I had made an art form of not going out, there was always a reason why I couldn’t do x y or z. Then eventually after so many “sorry I cants” people stopped asking. I went on like this for a good long time until one day I just snapped.
It was over nothing but it was over everything really, I felt like my life had come crashing down but it also felt like such a relief to have a complete melt down because it meant it was finally out in the open.
I’m still not recovered, I’m still on meds and I still have those “sorry I cant” days, but they are a lot less than they ever were, I still doubt myself as a mum too, especially now I’m trying to cope with a toddler and a baby but I have found that you don’t always need someone physical to talk to, I’ve found there are mums out there that are feeling exactly how I am, I found solice in online friends, other mums and PND sufferers who can 100% understand how I’m feeling that can offer advice and even examples of how they coped. I’m not knocking the meds or doctors or therapy because I believe it’s a mixture of all these things that help.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be brave enough to come off the meds, I don’t know if I’ll ever be free of the black days, but I know I am not alone and I know it’s important to keep talking and to keep other women going too because we need to be there for one another, motherhood isn’t a competition, but it is the hardest thing that most of us will ever do and support, love and laughter goes a long way when you feel like no one else could possibly understand.