The storm arrives.....
“Motherhood. You know the picture – the sun streams in on the beautiful, contented baby as she smiles at her blissfully happy mother...their world is peaceful and ordered! But what happens when the image doesn’t match up? Instead you have a crying baby in pain with reflux, a mother who hasn’t managed more than two consecutive hours of sleep in the last month, a toddler who is toilet training, unsorted washing, a house that hasn’t been cleaned in weeks, its 1pm and everyone’s still in pyjamas...Sounds like chaos...and it is! This is the reality in millions of homes around the world. Yes, motherhood is a divine journey but a journey that passes through dark forests for many women.
I always say that I loved being pregnant but it didn’t love me! By the time my son was born I was already past exhaustion. I had a tiring pregnancy with carpal tunnel, diastasis recti (separated stomach muscles), back pain, pre-eclampsia, 7 months of morning sickness, and trying to be an active Mum for my little girl who was only 2. I don’t list these events to blame my children or motherhood, nor am I trying to elicit sympathy. I simply want to highlight how the natural process of pregnancy can be difficult. Not everyone is lucky enough to be ‘glowing’ in pregnancy or able to do an ‘Express Delivery” and be home 3 hours after birth. For those women who experience difficulties in pregnancy and birth, extra consideration needs to be given. I believe that the absolute mental and physical exhaustion I experienced was simply the starting point for PND.
I started to realise that that something was wrong when my child was about 4 months old. I was trying to organise celebrations for my birthday and finding it arduous. In the past I had enjoyed organising parties and didn’t understand why I was becoming angry every time I had to make a decision regarding the details of the event. I had scaled down my original ideas, as I was ‘too tired’ to be bothered but, when I realised that the thought of being in a group of people terrified me, even though they were family and my closest friends, then I knew something was wrong. Having worked in the mental health field years before, it didn’t take me long to realise that I had Post-natal Depression.
The problem with post natal depression is it creeps up slowly. It’s easy to pass off the early signs as simply part of motherhood – lack of sleep, frustration, lack of control, lack of knowledge, fear, and lack of confidence. So, how do you know when it’s more than just that?
When everyday is a bad day.
When all you do is alternate between crying, feeling numb, and exploding with rage.
When you hate being alone – but are afraid of people.
When you can’t do your normal routine tasks like preparing meals or writing a shopping list.
When unusual behaviours appear that you never had before – like stuttering.
When the days are too long.
That’s when it’s time to look for help.”
The fact that you are here and reading my post means you are probably looking for support. Well done! I hope my words reinforce the fact that you are not alone. If you need more than just these words, pop over to the Resources page and see if there is anything else that interests you.
Make sure you reach out to someone – family, a partner, friends, or a health professional. Depression isn’t something that others see easily, like a broken arm, so don’t be afraid to let others know you need a little help.
Take care of yourself Dear One so that you can take care of your baby too!
NB. Excerpt from my upcoming book.