I have Post Natal Depression.
There. I said it.
It’s something I’ve been trying to say for a few months now. Something I didn’t want to say. Something I didn’t want to feel. Something I really didn’t want to publish online. Something I didn’t want. Full stop.
It may come as a shock to the people that know me. It will certainly come as a shock to the people that ‘facebook-know me’. My life looks so perfect from the outside in. My life is perfect. I have a truly wonderful husband, two great kids, a good job, a nice house and an abundance of people that care about me. Does that mean I am not allowed to suffer with the illness that is depression? I thought it did. But I realised that sadness and depression are two very different things.
I have felt this way before. I have been tormented by darkness. Followed around by a big black hole just waiting for me to fall in. Urging me to fall in. And I did. I fell. Like Alice into the rabbit hole, I tripped and went head first into the darkest time of my life, with little understanding of what was happening and no end in sight. Consumed by demons, emotionally and physically. But there was a reason for that. Grief. Immense, all-consuming, heartbreaking grief. My Mum died. She was taken from me at such a pivotal time in my life. I needed her. I still need her. I was grieving the Woman I needed more than ever to help me through. I was grieving my loss. Grieving my future. Grieving my stability. Grieving my childhood. Yes, I was 24 but I wasn’t quite a woman yet. And I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Mum. I am still not ready.
I had panic attacks. Anxiety attacks. Migraines. I lashed out. I shouted, I screamed, I cried. I hit. I drank. A lot. I hated the world. I hated myself. I was self destructive. I struggled to deal with the most basic of everyday tasks. I struggled to accept love. I struggled to accept life. I struggled to live.
It didn’t get better quickly. It didn’t improve until I spoke to someone and started to process my emotions. I spoke with a counsellor for nearly 2 years until I had the ‘attacks’ under control.
But I was forgiven. By everyone. I had just lost my Mum so it was allowed.
Recently I have noticed a few things about myself that I haven’t liked. My inability to deal with daily stresses. Negative feelings showing their evil faces towards people I love. Resentment. Jealously. Disgust. And the physical elements have hit me hard. The roots of my hair tingling with pain, teeth grinding constantly, nail biting to the point that my fingers are sore and bleeding. Nausea. Migraines. Aversion to breastfeeding. Aversion to my kids in general coupled with an overwhelming fear of being away from them for more than half an hour. Anxiety. I also find myself grieving again. Grieving my old life. Grieving my old self. Grieving my freedom. And grieving my Mum all over again. I miss her. I need her. I feel that hollow space in my heart where she lived. She still lives there. But I can’t access it anymore.
“I’m a shit Mum. I’m a terrible person. My house is a mess. My car is a mess. My life is a mess. My head is banging. I feel sick. I just want some time to myself. I’m not leaving my kids with anyone else. She needs me. Please don’t leave me on my own with them tonight. I hate you. I envy you. I need you. I’m so lonely. I’m alone. I never have a minute to myself. I can’t even piss on my own. I wish I could just go on that night out with my mates. I just want a date with my husband. I just want a long, uninterupted, hot shower. Something just for me. Don’t come near me. Take her off me. I need space. I can’t leave her with you. I just can’t. I need her. She’s mine. I don’t trust you with my children. My teeth are gonna fall out. My fingers are sore. My head hurts. My body hurts. I’m tired. I’m so tired. Where are you, Mum? I need you.”
It gets dark. I feel myself tipping over. Unable to deal with the house sale, paying the bills, finding a nursery, cleaning the house, doing a weekly shop, cooking the the dinner. But I don’t tip over. I can’t. I’m needed. I wish I wasn’t needed so much. And so I cry. I can’t stop crying. I function. I am still a Mum. I am still a Wife. But I’m not much of a Woman. I’m not an individual. I’m barely a person. I’m a machine. It’s foggy. I block it all out and continue as I did before but I do it without heart. My needs are at the bottom of the pile. My sanity is slipping. I hope that the feelings will go away. I hope I stop feeling choked. I hope I can laugh. Really laugh. I hope that the tears will stop. And they do. Eventually. But they come back.
I am usually in touch with my emotions. I can rationalise. The counselling I had all those years ago helped me to understand my emotions and recognise triggers. But recently it’s not been easy to rationalise and recognise anything. I realised that I needed help. So I went to my GP.
She gave me drugs.
I understand that medication is necessary for some mental health issues. I get that some people can simply not function without it. I’m just not sure that this is the right FIRST option for me. “I need to talk to someone. I need to understand why I’m feeling like this. I need to stop it before it worsens. I’m not sure antidepressants will help me with that.” She gave me the number for TalkLiverpool and prescribed me something I can take ‘when I feel the anxiety coming on’. I’ve had a telephone assement with TalkLiverpool who have diagnosed me with Anxiety and put me on their 12 week waiting list. Sometimes I think about the tablets the doctor prescribed me. But I’ve yet to take one. I’ve found another way of processing the darkness whilst living with the fog. I talk. I talk to someone who listens and who relates to the feelings I have. And she helps me more than she knows. I talk to my husband. He reminds me that I am an individual too. He supports me no end. Just as he did when my mum died. I don’t talk to my friends. I don’t talk to my family. I worry they won’t understand. On the surface I have everything. I’m not even sure I understand.
“It’s not forever, you should enjoy it.”
“Your life is so perfect.”
“You’re so blessed.”
“You’re so lucky.”
“Your family is beautiful. You should be happy.”
People say these things regularly.
I know these things. I am happy. I am loved. I am lucky. I am truly aware of my luck in this life and the love that surrounds me. I am not ungrateful. I am not sad. I have depression and I am trying to remember how to live with it and how to keep it at bay. I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole again.
I have Post Natal Depression.
There. I said it.
#mentalhealth #postnataldepression #depression