Postnatal Depression is a depressive illness which affects 10 to 15 percent of women having a baby. The symptoms are similar to those in depression at other times. These include low mood and other symptoms lasting at least two weeks. Sarah Quick, one of The Sleep Fairies writes about PND and the importance of talking about it and getting it treated:
“I felt such a rush of love”
“It’s like no other love you’ve ever experienced”
“I felt an instant connection”
These may be true for some people but it wasn’t like that for me! I felt nothing but exhaustion and kept asking myself, “Is this it?”
I didn’t say a word to anyone. How could I? My reason for living had been to reach this point in life, so why wasn’t I ecstatically happy with my new role as a mother? Okay, so I thought that it must have been the long labour and the fact that I was so tired.
For some people this feeling dissipates over time as they start to feel more competent and less tired. They come to the realisation that this is a role unlike any they’ve done before, and they approach it in a different way. The black fog then lifts and the love arrives. But for me, and I know for many others, this wasn’t what happened.
Visitors came and went, hundreds of cards, flowers, presents etc arrived (which was so lovely). Other people cuddled my baby, I made tea and biscuits and smiled, I hoovered, had a shower, washed my baby, changed her nappy, tried to feed her, sang to her. And I cried. And cried and cried and cried.
What on earth was going on? I’d had a career in a large company for years, working as cabin crew, in HR and project management and as a trainer. I’d qualified as a NNEB Nursery Nurse, as a NLP life coach, an adult education teacher but I couldn’t work out how to get my baby to feed, sleep or even smile. I felt like I was such a failure, trapped in a life of my making with no way out. But how could I tell anyone how useless I felt? How ungrateful it would sound to my wonderful partner who had said, so lovingly, that it was amazing to be able to give me the child I’d longed for? One day I opened a kitchen drawer, looked at the sharp knives and thought, “I can change all of this.” That was the point when I suddenly realised that something wasn’t right. My daughter was 3 months old and I’d already missed so much. But I didn’t do anything about it.
I managed to muddle my way through by making jokes about wanting to leave my daughter outside and hoping someone else would take her away. No one laughed. I told my partner that I wanted to send her away, he hugged me and said I was doing a fabulous job. He now says that with hindsight he should have taken me straight to see a medical professional.
My friends and family supported me, but I was so good at hiding the pain and fear that was by now a massive part of my life. My little person, despite all this, thrived, but I do feel that I did her a disservice by not seeking support earlier. Something, although I have forgiven myself for, I can’t forget.
We moved, I muddled through and returned to work, hoping this would be my saving grace. It wasn’t because I then felt incompetent there too. In the summer of 2010 when my gorgeous little girl was 16 months, I finally took myself off to my doctor. Enough was enough! I wanted to enjoy this time with my daughter, not endure it. I was told that I was suffering with moderate to server Post Natal Depression.
With discussion and support from my understanding GP, my partner, family and friends, the fog gradually lifted and I slowly fell in love with my daughter. It hasn’t been an easy journey and there are sometimes days when I feel sad I missed so much of her early life, but because of these experiences I have been privileged to share and support others through these challenging and lonely time.
My daughter is now seven with all the challenges that that entails. I still have days when I think “Oh my God I’m so useless I can’t do this”, but then I remind myself that babies and children don’t come with manual and are all different and similar in degrees. And it is perfectly normal to have those thoughts.
I am currently watching Ava standing on a chair dancing and singing along to “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” by Elton John! She’s a happy, healthy and loving little girl who hates homework, loves Strictly Come Dancing, talks back when I’m not consistent and eats her greens. Life’s pretty damn good!
Feeling out of your depth; asking what do I do; why isn’t this working; is all normal. But if that fog doesn’t lift, GET HELP. Don’t miss out. You’re not a failure for reaching out for help, you’re just doing what you need to do and it’s a blessing for everyone. Most importantly, it’s a blessing for you & your little one.
Talk and share, its fabulous! And contact us at Sleep Fairy & Parent Rescue, because between us we have a vast range of knowledge and experience to support others through these difficult times.