This is my personal journey of living with Post Natal Depression (PND).
I want to get my story out there because I know how awful this horrible illness is. You might not be able to see it but it is all around you. Let’s break the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
” I HAVE A MENTAL HEALTH DIAGNOSIS AND I AM NOT ASHAMED”.
I know first-hand how lonely and useless it can feel suffering from this horrible demon. I convinced myself I was the only one feeling these things, and thinking the sorts of terrible things I was thinking. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact I had PND and speak about my experience. In fact the first time round I never really accepted it and never spoke about it to anyone. It also took me a long time to realise I AM NOT ALONE!!!
That first time I experienced the horrible dark demon taking over I never really got any support. That might be my own fault though. I never told anyone how I was feeling. I thought they would think of me as a bad mother and not able to cope and take my baby away from me.
My health visitor would come and visit me after I had my first precious boy. She kept visiting and I pretended a lot was fine; the questionnaires they give were so easy to just lie. I have to admit I DID LIE. I didn’t mean to but I thought if I answered honestly I would get my child taken off me and I would have social work on my door…so that’s what I did and I didn’t admit to anyone how I was feeling…. I just got on with life.
I kept this act up for a while but then I admitted to everything I was feeling… I told my health visitor and her only; not my partner, not my parents, nobody exactly how I was feeling. I didn’t know who to go for support and I just got on with my life.
I then spoke to my GP and I was prescribed antidepressants which I stayed on for a few months and started to feel better. I did this all without the knowledge of my partner, parents, parents in law and friend and other family. I carried on with life, went back to work, saw my friends and family and started to feel a bit more normal again.
My eldest son was two and a half when I gave birth to our second son. Unfortunately I had a pretty rough pregnancy and throughout it I was in and out of hospital constantly with complications. Thankfully our little one arrived 10 days early. I had quite a traumatic birth but our boy was safe and healthy. They told me that due to the problems that I had endured that this was the most probable reason for the PND demon returning. Only this time it had returned stronger than ever.
Again I kept it to myself for a while; the same low feelings, crying, loneliness, anxious about the smallest of things, anger, being scared and not knowing what on earth I was feeling at times. But it started getting worse; the demon was becoming to get more of a hold over me. I started getting worse thoughts than I had ever had before. I was constantly exhausted, had a cloud of darkness around me all the time, didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, didn’t want to socialise with anyone and I just didn’t want to be me.
I think the worst of it all was I did not want to be around my boys at times. They would be crying and I would be in a daze like state not even hearing them, or I would be hearing them but wishing I couldn’t. I felt that I wasn’t good enough to be their mum, that I would make things worse. I would look at my little one and just have no feelings at all. I think that was one of the worst feelings as that made everything a bit of a vicious circle, I didn’t want to be near my precious boys yet I loved them with every inch of my heart and it made me feel worse about myself because I was feeling like that.
“Thankfully I was able to fight through the darkness”
There were days when I was scared of myself, could I hurt my boys? Terrified that I could somehow crack and something awful would happen. Looking back I am so glad I got help when I did because if I hadn’t I dread to think how things could have ended. I had thoughts of wanting to hurt myself. I would wonder if I harmed myself that it would somehow make me feel better. Thankfully I was able to fight through the darkness and I never hurt myself. It took me a while to admit to anyone I needed help but when I did it was such a relief, I started back on my antidepressants and take things day by day.
Thankfully this time round I have had a lot more support. I have regular doctor appointments, I meet with my community psychiatric nurse (CPN) monthly, but most importantly I didn’t keep it all hidden away and have the most fabulous friends and family there for me. They have put up with my bad days, my good days and everything in between and if it wasn’t for these people I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today. I also started talking with Rosey from PND&Me regularly online. We would just chat about nothing at times – that in itself has helped; knowing I can message her at any time and she knows what I am going through.
I also started logging on to twitter to #PNDChat and #PNDHour – it is fantastic. I haven’t been able to catch the chat the last couple of months but it is so comforting the amount of people you can talk to who have been in that same place as you, to know you are not alone and all the medical professionals who are involved in the chats is amazing too.
It wasn’t easy telling my husband, family and friends, those I am closest to about all the horrible things I was thinking and then about my diagnosis. I was terrified what people would think of me, scared that I would be made an outcast or people would think I was crazy, making it up or that it wasn’t a real medical condition. I have had that a few times – just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
I believe what you can’t see can be one of the most horrendous things you can experience – that’s what my experience was. I always thought it would never happen to me, I was strong, I could handle it, in the end I needed help to just get through the day – I am not ashamed of that and you shouldn’t be either.
I am so thankful for those I have in my life, my husband, parents, family, friends, my CPN, Rosey and other people who I am in contact with through the internet who have suffered similar symptoms as me.
If you feel you are being taken over by a horrible darkness of a mental health problem, please speak out and ask for help. Don’t be afraid – you are not alone.
If you know of anyone or suspect that anyone is going through similar please speak to them, if they answer ‘I am ok’ when you ask how they are but you aren’t convinced dig a wee bit deeper. Sometimes the best thing that day can be somebody actually listening to you. If you or they don’t want to talk just send a wee text to say you are there for them, tell them positive things about themselves, and make them a cup of tea. These small things make the biggest difference.
A quote that helped me over the last few months was ‘Find beauty in the everyday’.
I placed a coaster with this quote on my desk at work – reminded me every day to think positive. Find something that you can relate to and keep that thought tucked up in your mind and remember to look at it every day.
By no means have I beaten the demon but I am fighting. I have good days, bad days and very bad days. But on the whole I am doing a lot better. There is always hope!
Thank you for reading.