Psst… Here is a commonly known secret… you’re not alone.
Did you know that 1 in 10 women are affected by PND every year? I did, I was well aware of the facts, I was well aware that I was more at risk due to my past mental health. I still ignored that.
One thing I didn’t know was that, though less common, men can have PND. This is something that happened to F, my baby daddy.
Feeling so low when you are meant to be a glowing model of evolution, you grew an entire human inside you, you then let them rip you apart, leaving you with more stitches than you care to remember, is a feeling that alienates us. The greeting card image of early motherhood is false. Do not believe the hype my friends.
The following days after you give birth are a whirlwind, you feel so much pride, awe, love but it is strangely entwined with fear, pain and well sleep deprivation. You’re told by medical professionals that your hormones levels will level out, if they don’t talk to a professional.
That is a lot easy than said.
My journey with PND is one that is not yet over, a year on I am still struggling. The day I found help was when G was 2 months old. I cried so hard that day. I felt like a failure, I really wanted to die. I loved my son, with everything in my being but I felt as if I wasn’t good enough.
My past has a lot to do with that and even though I tried therapy during my pregnancy and though I did not fear being a mother, I had such a gut wrenching dread that he wouldn’t love me, that I was going to be his greatest downfall in life. I couldn’t provide the opportunities that he deserved.
Little over a year ago I was stood in the health clinic, my colicky, lactose intolerant and acidic baby had been crying what felt like the moment he was brought home. I did not expose the abuse I lived with at the time, or my issues surrounding dealing with a traumatised kid brother. I just cried. The health visitor let me cry. That was the greatest thing. She took G to another room to be watched, let me cry my heart out and made a call to my GP so that I would be seen within the hour.
I left, still crying, walked across the church courtyard to the GP and sat crying. I cried and cried pushing the pram up and down the waiting room. No one asked if I was okay, everyone avoided me like I was a walking case of instant death.
My name was called and I walked into a small brightly lit office. I remember seeing my face in the mirror above the sink. I was red, puffy and soaked with tears. The junior doctor turned in her chair, little did I know it was her first day in the surgery. I broke down into a full on bawling session. All this young woman could do was pass my tissues and find someone to help.
Who knew that you could cry for hours straight like that?
I was diagnosed and given anti depressants. 6 weeks later I was back to myself. However due to the abuse I suffered with F, the constant tease that I wasn’t a good mother naturally and that I needed pills made me quit them. I worked tirelessly on myself, I made promises and set happiness goals. Tiny milestones such as getting through a day without crying worked for me. Soon after, yet a shadow of my former self, I did feel like a “good” mom.
Fast forwarding a year, I am back on antidepressants. 3 weeks yesterday- I don’t feel better yet. I didn’t know I could have PND again, I didn’t know that it is quite common to have such a diagnosis a year after giving birth.
All I know is, my life has changed an incredible amount in the past 5 months or so. I am working on it, on me, I’m not alone no matter how that feeling may engulf me sometimes. I am good enough. I am fantastic. Wonderful. A god damn delight!