This will be a difficult post to write but I think it’s one that needs to be written and shared. I don’t think that people talk about it enough and that’s what made it so hard for me to realise what it was. Post-natal depression doesn’t necessarily mean that you lie in bed crying all day and not wanting to get up. There are different symptoms.
After Sadie I suffered with a bout of post-natal depression. It sucks. On the outside I appeared fine; people would tell me how well I was coping and how I was doing brilliantly. How I had such a happy baby and she was thriving. Meanwhile behind the scenes I just wanted to scream into a pillow ‘I hate this!’
I have just had my 2nd baby and I’m not going to lie, I am a little nervous of suffering with it again. I think that women don’t discuss this openly because of fear of being judged. This is one of the reasons why I found it so difficult to identify why I was feeling the way I was feeling.
I have suffered with depression and anxiety in the past so I knew I was ‘at risk’ for post-natal. However, I was determined not to become a statistic and with me being quite maternal and being so excited to be a mum it just didn’t seem like it was an option. Suffering with depression is something I thought meant I would be curled up in bed, not wanting to move or speak to anyone or with it being post-natal meaning I would have no interest at all in my baby. I was suffering with neither so I was confused as to why I was feeling low.
My health visitor was amazing and recognised something was up but we couldn’t figure out what was going on. Some days I’d feel fine, some days I would just wish someone would take the baby. I remember one day I woke up, fed her and then immediately put her down in the moses basket and went downstairs. Phil was still upstairs with her but I just didn’t want to be in the room anymore; even when Phil brought her downstairs a little while after, I went upstairs. I just didn’t want to be near the baby. Later on that day he said that he was going to go for a walk with her to visit his Aunt and he would be a few hours. What was really strange was that I immediately started sobbing saying to him that I didn’t want him to take her but he said I needed a break. Then as soon as he left I cried more because I really didn’t care that she had left the house. It was the ultimate head wreck!
I really didn’t get what was going on in my head and just put it down to New Mum anxiety; I figured that my anxiety had just gotten worse with having had a baby and it was all normal. I talked to my health visitor about it and she referred me for some CBT and to see a counsellor. I still couldn’t write put my finger on what was wrong with me; I was saying it was new mum anxiety but I didn’t feel anxious.
In hindsight, if I was honest with myself… I felt like I didn’t love my baby.
How do you admit that? How do you voice that?
I had 2 friends that had babies the same time as me and they seemed so in love and creating this bond with their babies. And there was me with what almost felt like resentment for this tiny little lump that had come into my life and thrown it into uproar. I just wasn’t enjoying being a mum at all and wanted my life back. On the outside, I would put on an act of being so happy and in love with her because I knew thats what people expected from me. How could I not love this tiny cute bundle? Even to my husband who I can tell anything to (he is my best friend) I couldn’t admit how I was feeling.
When she was 4 months old, we traveled to Canada to visit family. I flew over with my Grandad first and then Phil flew over a week later. So I had to do all night feeds and essentially look after her all by myself for a week; obviously with some help from my Aunt. I felt like I had coped perfectly well but once Phil arrived I literally broke down one night. I sobbed and sobbed on his shoulder and actually said to him ‘I hate being a mum, I want my life back. Honestly, if someone came and took her now I would be sad for maybe a few weeks but I would get over it.’
I waited for Phil to get mad at me, look at me like I was crazy, tell me I was a terrible mother and even ask for a divorce. Instead he just hugged me and said ‘and that is exactly what you need to say to your counsellor. You have post-natal depression.’
Weirdly, a week later, the singer Adele talked about her experience of post-natal and it was nearly exactly the same. This confirmed what Phil had been saying and I started to google some stuff myself. It all seemed to suddenly make sense.
When we came home from Canada I had a visit from my Health Visitor and we discussed a plan to see a counsellor. I started having weekly ‘therapy’ sessions and some CBT for my anxiety. It got a lot better.
By the time she was 6 months old I finally recognised she was mine and I was her mum and that she adored me. She wasn’t going anywhere, I wasn’t doing anything wrong and that I was a good mum. I was doing the best I could and that was enough!
My advice to anyone who is just feeling a bit crap is to TALK TO SOMEONE! Talk to someone who totally understands you (for me it was my hubby) and if you don’t feel comfortable with that then talk to your GP or your Health Visitor. I refused anti-depressants but took up the counselling and that was enough for me. And please, please remember that there is no shame in feeling a bit crap. Just TALK TO SOMEONE!
I hope this helps someone, it needs to be out there. (Please no judgey comments, there is no need for them. It doesn’t make anything better).