So, this is potentially the hardest post I have ever had to write. But this week I have had to admit I am not okay.
A little history lesson for those of you who may not have known me for long. I have a bit of a history with depression / anxiety. When I was in a toxic relationship I was deemed clinically depressed. I had CBT therapy which personally did not help me and I also had medication. I took whatever the doctor said no questions asked. Until I ended up in hospital with a damaged nerve in my head. I had to take so many pills I used to put them in a shot glass. Pills to stop side effects from other pills, pills for pain, pills for depression, pills because all of the other pills would destroy my insides. One day I just stopped. Enough was enough. No more drug concoction. I am by no means suggesting that anybody do this, it’s just what I did. I made drastic changes in my life and worked a lot on self development.
Now, don’t get me wrong life wasn’t all sunshine and unicorn glitter, I had bad days. But I always felt I could get them under control.
Then, my dads partner passed away. This triggered something in me where my mental health again went out of the window. Panic attacks. They would happen in the street, They would wake me up from sleeping. All of a sudden I couldn’t breathe. I remember after a particularly long day of having to go to one hospital for me, and then another hospital appointment for my partner we came home and went to the chip shop. I was feeling quite happy weirdly and all of a sudden I felt like I was having a heart attack. My chest tightened and I just thought ‘this is it’. An ambulance came and took me to A&E and that where they said it was all anxiety related. They talked me through mind detachment techniques for the panic attacks and again I felt like I could cope with things on my own.
Recently things have been bad again. I almost threw my relationship away rather than admit I had an issue. And do you know why – Because I was worried if I told anybody I would be deemed an unfit mother and have my baby taken away from me. I’ve heard lots of things about post natal depression / anxiety and always presumed it was a feeling of detachment from your child – Which for me couldn’t be further from the truth. I can’t bear the thought of not being with my child. I walk through the centre of Manchester and envision somebody taking her from me. Literally just reaching in the pram and stealing her. I create scenarios in my head that haven’t even happened and I worry. Oh boy do I worry. If she cries too much I am worried she is ill, if she goes off her food a little I am a bad mother and there must be something wrong. There has been some family fall outs which has resulted in Pickle not meeting some members of her family – Where I would have usually just shrugged this off, this left me literally sobbing for my girl on my birthday, I worked myself up to a point I felt like more members of my partners didn’t like me (With no actual evidence. This is just how it built up) and this then also filtered into life away from my baby. I am doing a nail course and all of a sudden I felt like I didn’t belong. Like this group of girls merely tolerated me being around. And would much prefer it if I quit. I’m not spilling this for sympathy I am just explaining how things have escalated by just not admitting I needed help. Me and my partner briefly split up and when we spoke I was forced to admit how I had been feeling. It was a choice of telling him or still not admitting it and being a single mother. It still took a while however, It wasn’t until it was time for her first trip to her dads and not having her around that really took the wind out of me. Was I really going to be so selfish and have my child split between two parents rather than tell the person I was going to marry what was happening in my head.
Once I opened up once, I found it easier to tell people. I spoke to a group of ladies I met when I joined a pregnancy group. We was all due around the same time of the year and we have all become really quite close. I asked questions and found that it’s so common to feel the way I was feeling. One of the biggest misconceptions is that PND is just feeling like you don’t connect with your child, or that you merely have ‘The baby blues’. It can be that you just feel you are doing it all wrong. Most of the ladies I spoke to said that opening up to their partner was a huge help, although maybe some extra support for night feeds would help more. Tiredness can have a huge impact. I asked a question on what their biggest peice of advice would be and what I personally found invaluable was to be open with your friends and family. Getting help with the mundane things from friends and family will help and also you need to do things for you. It’s okay to go out and let grandparents look after your child. Give yourself a chance to miss your baby and don’t dwell on the life you had before your baby came along. Yes money was probably better, and you had more freedom. Yes you could decide at 8pm to go to the cinema and be there by 8.30. It’s okay to miss it at times but try and focus on this new exciting things you can do with this little human. I’ve been really lucky with Pickles sleeping but another one from the ladies that I’m sure others will find invaluable is the sleep deprivation does get better.
So, there we have it. I’ve opened up for the whole world. Yes I have post natal anxiety. No, I am not ashamed of it anymore. Admitting this doesn’t make me weak – Acknowledging I need the help actually makes me strong.