WHEN YOU’RE NOT “FINE”
A couple of years ago I was diagnosed and treated for depression. A year later I stopped taking my medication as I was sure I was “cured”. A few months later I had a big surprise in finding out I was pregnant and as my pregnancy progressed I grew more and more anxious and found myself slipping into familiar thoughts and actions.
My main concern was that when I gave birth I wouldn’t feel the instant love that everyone describes, that I wouldn’t look at my baby and feel the way I was “supposed to” and that I would never be able to bond with him. However I am so thankful to say that from the minute he was born I have been in love with him and have a bond like I never could have imagined with him.
I only stayed overnight in the hospital and the first week of Leonardo’s life at home was pure bliss. I fell into the Mummy role easily and was surprised in how I found immense joy in everything I did with him, even the things I had stressed about during my pregnancy such as the lack of sleep, the dirty nappies and the crying that just didn’t seem to have a reasoning behind it. Instead I took humungous pride in everything I did with him and for him and I relished every second I spent with him.
That being said, I soon realised that something wasn’t right. I wasn’t sleeping, even when Leonardo was sleeping for a solid 4-5 hours between his feeds I was constantly awake, checking on him, cleaning the house and feeling like I was never going to to be able to switch my brain off.
I began lashing out at those around me, especially my Husband and my Mum, who have been a constant support for me. I would find any excuse to start an argument with them and would aggressively attack them until I exhausted my rage and immediately felt guilty.
I came to realise that I was overly protective of Leonardo and that I was relying on him to feel happy. When someone else would hold him I could feel my heart start racing and a million horrible thoughts would rush into my head. I would re-dress him if his Dad had dressed him. Or change his nappy if someone else had just done it. I just didn’t trust anyone else with him. I became obsessive over him and tried to never let him out of my sight.
All the while, through the countless times my friends, family, the doctor and the child health nurse asked me how I was doing I would always answer “I’m fine.”
But I wasn’t. I was in denial and I was quickly spiralling out of control.
I was too scared to admit I wasn’t fine. That I was struggling and that I needed help.
Then, after an extremely tough week for everyone involved, my loved ones convinced me to speak to my doctor at my eight week check up. With my Mum beside me I opened up to the doctor and told her how I was feeling and she, thankfully, was extremely kind and understanding and didn’t once make me feel like I was somehow doing something wrong, and she diagnosed me with post-natal depression.
Together we arranged medication and a mental health plan and I walked out of the doctors office that day feeling like a huge weight had been lifted.
That was 2 weeks ago now and things are getting better everyday. I have found myself controlling my temper and thinking rationally again.
I have loosened the reigns on Leonardo and my Mum has had him overnight (we both survived).
I have found enjoyment in things aside from Leonardo.
I have begun loving my partner in a whole new way, as he is the Daddy to my wonderful boy.
Post-natal depression is not something that is often spoken about and I believe that is due to people having a fear of being judged in some way for not always feeling the way society says they should when they have a new baby.
However, it is quite common, one in seven to ten mothers experience it, so you are definitely not alone.
I hope that women soon begin to feel more comfortable opening up about their journey with PND and share their experience with others around them and encourage those Mum’s out there who just don’t feel like everything is “fine” to seek help and support them.
Just remember: You have not done anything wrong. Having PND does not mean you aren’t a good Mum. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby.
If you feel like something just isn’t right, or if you have a loved one you are concerned about, I urge you to make the first step.
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