Alright men of the world. Here’s the truth about when I look at all dads, (myself included). I sit back and look at us all, in our pictures showing how tired and disheveled, stressed and messy we look. I sit back and look at how tired we are and then compare them to other mums, and my wife and think, “Jesus Christ, us men are idiots”.
But that is fine. We’re allowed to be!
We’re allowed to panic about buying the right bottle and call home to double check. We’re allowed to take 40 minutes making sure we buy the right nappies, or God help me if I buy the wrong aged baby food. We know that women can do everything that men can do, but us men can do the job too! We don’t babysit our kids, we’re dads! We can do everything that women can do too! Except pregnancy and we don’t have periods, (but I’m cool with that) … But yeah we can do everyth- yeah, won’t go through childbirth either. Silliness and joking aside, what I actually mean is I see the amazing job my fellow dads are doing. Some of you having to do it alone and for any single parent, I salute you! Keep up the good work men and women of the parenting world!
I also salute those managing their depression, as I am. It is sometimes a dark place to be.Speaking about my own brain, from the moment I wake up, my brain feels as if there is a stadium sized crowd in there, each individual asking me for their attention. On top of that when the baby and dog are causing chaos, the voice in my brain is constantly marching and yelling:
“What do we want? HELP! When do we want it? NOW! Please God, somebody help me right now”,
I hear this on loop as I sob into the corner of the front room as the baby shrieks like something out of The Exorcist and I’m drowning in a flood of dog wee, waiting until the I hear my wife pull the car on the drive and act like everything has been absolutely fine.
Hopefully you would have noticed the mistake in that last paragraph. If you didn’t, here it is:
Acting like everything is fine is a step backwards, always. I do it. After I’ve reflected on if it was a good idea, pretty much in every situation it will always would have been the wrong thing to do. Your confidence may prevent you from opening up, or your pride may do the same but as hard as it feels initially, the sooner you speak with your partners, friends and family (those you feel comfortable with, obviously. Don’t just spring a visit to Uncle Brian who will tell you to ‘man up and get on with it’ then slam the door in your face. Yeah… avoid that), it will help you to begin to accept it.
I realised my own depression was turning me from the very outgoing, silly div that my family and friends knew me as, to an introverted person who just wanted to listen to John Mayer on repeat. Dark times. It wasn’t long beforeI sought help for depression, because I opened up to bandmates, family and friends, and although I went cold turkey off my medication, (try not to go cold turkey off your medication), seeking help, helped.
Nearly a year ago, my son Noah was born. I don’t remember too much of the pregnancy, but I know it was one of the most stressful times of mine and Chloe’s lives. The pregnancy was relatively manageable with a few worrying times but all in all it wasn’t too bad. The weeks that followed Noah’s birth, I didn’t know it but I was feeling worse than before and just put it down to my own depression worsening. I could not do anything that removed the feeling of uselessness from my role in the family, I didn’t talk about my mental state as I felt that focus needed to be supporting my wife and baby, so I bottled it up so I didn’t become a nuisance. It wasn’t until Chloe cornered me one night and made me open up about how I was actually feeling, that she was able to speak to me about Post-Natal Depression.
Prior to thisconversation I genuinely thought that PND was something that only affected women after birth, notmen. After speaking with a doctor and informing him I’d become a new dad, and that I had noticed mydepression was feeling different and getting worse, he too thought that PND was the issue. Reading more about it, talking openly about it and visiting the doctor allowed me to manage my PND and my own depression. I do still really stressful days where my brain is ‘buzzing’, when I need to be alone for alittle bit or I’ll become selfish, irritable and irrational. Through talking with Chloe about all of this, she notices when it is coming well before I do. So I am able to grab some time away, go for a walk or dosomething that is relaxing.
If you think bottling your depression and PND inside, and ‘manning up’ will fix everything and make it goaway, unfortunately it won’t. I know a lot of men will not want to admit what they feel is a weakness,(which it isn’t), but opening up about depression and PND was far more beneficial for me and my family than trying to deal with it on my own and hoping it goes away, and all it took was a partner who was going to go crazy at me if I wasn’t honest, an honest chat and a cup of tea.
Perfect timing, the kettle popped. Brew time.
Thanks for reading!
For more information on Postnatal Depressionbin fathers the NCT has a wealth on information.