Almost 8 years ago I began my motherhood journey, only I had unwanted company – Postnatal Depression.
I was a 19 year old new mum, struggling to breastfeed and lacking the emotional support I so desperately needed, it is no wonder than the cloud of PND descended and a wall between me and my daughter came down. I was still doing everything for her but it was if I couldn’t quite touch her, smell her, hear her. Those feelings are simply awful, not feeling good enough, wondering what you did wrong, why all the other mums are coping when you are fighting each day just to survive.
I wish I’d known then that none of it was my fault, I was poorly. I was the 1 in 7 mums who suffer with Postnatal Depression. I wasn’t alone but my god I’ve never felt so alone in my entire life.
I felt so many emotions, anger, sadness, guilt, but empty all at the same time. I didn’t want to be here any more, but still I suffered on in silence.
I lied to the health care professionals, “I’m fine” I would say. “Just tired”. I lied on the depression scale test you get given at 6 weeks postpartum, So many women do for so many reasons, I wish I hadn’t felt afraid to say I was struggling.
When I finally found the courage to seek help, my daughter was around 8 months old, by then I was very unwell, I was having regular intrusive thoughts and just wanted to escape, I couldn’t keep fighting with the thoughts in my mind anymore, I’d had enough, I thought all my strength was gone.
Thankfully, although I didn’t realise it at the time, I found a little pool of strength within me, it wasn’t much but it was enough to help pull me closer to the light at the end of the tunnel, to help me get through the really awful days where all I wanted to do was hide under a duvet and escape from reality for a while but all the while soldiering on, caring for my daughter and making sure her needs were met.
I slowly started to get better but sadly for me, I went on to experience Antenatal and Postnatal Depression a further 2 times with my sons. It’s one of the hardest things I think about having PND and being a mum, it takes so much from you at a time where you should be able to enjoy the little moments, instead we are left with photographs we can barely look at and memories that are faded or simply not there at all of those precious first moments with our child. PND is cruel but it can be beaten.
My journey with PND is one I am still on, although now the dark days are few and far between (I still take Anti Depressants because they help me be the best mum I can be). I found hope, where I didn’t think there was any and those little glimmers of hope are what helped me see that I wasn’t alone and that recovery was possible.
In 2014 my journey with PND led me to find what I truly believe is my purpose. I was now in a position to be able to offer that hope of recovery with others while connecting with those who were just starting their journey or those even further ahead than me.
I began #PNDHour, a simple hashtag which connects those affected by all maternal mental illness with a weekly tweet chat, every single Wednesday between 8-9pm via my profile @PNDandMe, I also have a Facebook page.
The purpose of PND and Me is ultimately to let those who are fighting know that they are not alone. It can feel like a very lonely journey some days, but you are never truly alone.
There is always someone out there who will listen to your story, who will help you get better, you have to take the big brave step of asking for help. I know it is hard, I truly do but please don’t be afraid, you are a good mum, you are just poorly. You can get better.
We are all at different stages of maternal mental illness, but those of us a little further along can offer that beacon of hope a mum starting her journey really needs.
If you take anything away from this blog let it be these things :
If you are a mum who is currently suffering with PND, please know that you are not alone and that help is out there, don’t be afraid to speak out. You are going to get better. Your journey may be different to others but keep fighting and find what works for you.
If you are mum further along the journey, or completely out of the fog of PND, extend your hand to other mums, help us break the silence and the stigma that keeps so many from seeking help.
Ultimately, know that you are doing your best, that is and always be – enough.