Writing about postnatal depression isn’t easy. I’m torn between wanting to write about it, not quite being ready and worrying about what people will think if they read it.
Depression is a tricky subject. It shouldn’t be, but it is. People don’t always like to talk about it, sufferers often feel ashamed to admit it. The stigma that is attached to mental health is as hard to deal with as the condition itself.
As a previous sufferer of depression I am well versed in the signs, symptoms and effects that it can have. For this reason it wasn’t a shock to me when I started to feel depressed soon after Baby J was born. Most probably before.
I felt like I was the one who had to bring up this little baby. I shouldn’t need help. Battling with colic, reflux and a second pregnancy all at the same time wasn’t my wisest move. I wouldn’t change my situation now, but I didn’t allow time for my body or mind to recover. I didn’t have a traumatic birth but I gave birth nonetheless. Having a baby is massive, hard, tiring and painful. No matter how strong you are, giving yourself time to get over it is essential.
Having hyperemesis during both pregnancies didn’t help. I’ve written all about it here so I won’t go into too much detail, but the strain on my body mentally and physically was too much. Torturing myself because at the time I didn’t want to be pregnant, but knowing that it was wrong to feel that way was incredibly difficult.
Having postnatal depression is like living with the Devil constantly on your shoulder. I paint a smile on my face for my children, I am a good mother. I give them everything they need and more. The Devil doesn’t let me believe it though. He sits on my shoulder and tells me that what I’m doing isn’t good enough. He is a constant niggle that leads me to believe I am not happy.
Postnatal depression leaves me feeling like I constantly need a break. When I get a break I can’t relax. I should be with my children, leaving them must mean I am a terrible mother. We all know this is untrue, but if depression was based on rationality it wouldn’t be as much of a problem.
I am lucky that I am educated in this field. I have qualifications that help me recognise depression. I know the skills and techniques that need to be put in place to combat it. I have had intensive therapy, from this I know myself inside out. I know what to do and how to do it, I just wish it didn’t take so much time.
I am constantly told that life with two under two will get easier. That I need to enjoy this time because school is just around the corner. It doesn’t make a difference though does it? Depression won’t just go away because time will pass quickly. I can’t enjoy every second just because I’m being told that I should.
As I work with my demons to get them back in their box, I urge anyone who may feel the same to speak out. Admit that you are depressed, say those words. It’s the first step to recovery. A vital step to allow you and your family to move past what could be the most difficult time of your life.
It’s time to talk about mental health.