*I wrote this 2 years ago now and it has been sitting in my drafts for the longest time. I finally feel in a good place and don’t mind sharing now.*
Sitting on the edge of the bed making sure he was breathing, I think that is my first memory of how low I really felt after having my first son. Too scared to turn away incase he stopped breathing. You hear horror stories of babies who just die in their sleep and I had convinced myself I shouldnt be this happy so something was going to come along and put a stop to it all.
Mum shrugged it off when I tried to talk to her. ‘Baby blues’ and ‘back in our day we had to just get on with it, give yourself a talking to’. Oh the amount of times I tried giving myself that ‘talking to’ but the voice inside was so much louder.
Of course partners don’t understand exactly where you are coming from. That feeling of loss and what I can only describe as being in an elevator that is dropping but you cant do anything to stop it. Just stop, I want to get off. But you cant.
So, I plodded along. Throwing myself into Christmas and ‘making’ myself happy by distration. Of course he didnt need a mountain of toys, he was 7 months old for goodness sakes but as long as i was focused on something else I wasnt worried about how my perfect life was crumbling around me.
Those on the outside kept saying I had everything and oh my gosh how easy I made it look. What they didnt see was me sliding down the kitchen wall unable to catch my breath. The scratches up my arms just so I felt something more than dread in my heart. Dread that I was being such an awful mother to this little one that someone would come and take him away.
Why did he cry? Why wont he stop? Am i not doing something I should be? I read all the books and took to heart every word that strangers told me. Dont pick him up. Pick him up. Dont fuss over him. Give him lots of attention. Let him sleep with you he will settle easier. Oh gosh never sleep beside him you could roll over and kill him. My heart was confused and my head not far behind.
It didnt take long for me to realise something was wrong, not with my parenting but with my feelings. I had never been so nervous or filled with dread my whole life. Something had switched since having my baby and if I could put this right then that had to be a good thing.
The doctor couldnt get a word in. I walked into his room and before my bum hit the seat I was spewing everything, and I mean everything about how I felt. To the point where it was that horrible ugly cry where you cant get the words out and have to kind of shout between sobs. It felt cathartic and he just sat and listened. It was what I needed, to break it all down to someone who wasnt going to judge or tell me to ‘pull myself together’.
I was prescribed medication and slowly but surely I came to realise that this was something that was out of my control. It was something that a lot of women go through and I really wasnt alone in my feelings. Gradually life started to seem a little brighter. I could finally sleep for a few hours, I would still wake with a pit of pain in my stomach fearing the worst but I was actually able to sleep.
Post natal depression became something I could see and control. It wasnt me being silly or over reacting. It was an issue that needed dealing with and I was now in control of it.
My eldest son is now 26 with 3 children of his own and I went on to have 5 more little ones. I am still on medication and to be honest that is fine by me. If i have a headache I take medication. If we get hurt we take things to make it better so why not do what we can to help get hormones back on track. The stigma attached to PND and taking medication is unnecessary and damaging.