My Battle With Postnatal Depression
I had always been a confident, happy, outgoing person. Life was full on and I loved every second of it. But recalling new motherhood, I realise now that I battled with postnatal depression. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn't it?!
I didn't recognise myself or understand what was happening to me - and was really frightened of how quickly I was sliding into despair. I was unprepared for the change in myself and the challenges of motherhood. After all having a baby is supposed to be one of the most wonderful experiences of your life. Why did I not feel this?
I became over anxious, inward thinking and was always exhausted with no energy to put into my new family and to enjoy what should have been such a happy time.
One particularly terrible memory of this period in my life still haunts me. I was pushing my beautiful new baby out in the pram one morning and felt completely overwhelmed - I just couldn't cope; I was shaking and could barely breathe. I put the brakes on the pram, making sure that my baby was safely out of harm's way, and I just walked away ...... I'd been having suicidal thoughts. Fortunately for me that extraordinary nurturing and unconditional love you have for your child ultimately stopped me from acting on my thoughts. Instinct, regarding the damage I would cause my precious and very loved child in the future, thankfully stopped me from walking in front of the next passing car. In a state of distress I found myself instead heading, with my baby, to the doctors' surgery where I finally could be honest about what was happening to me.
And from that moment forth the support flooded in.
So please ask for help - there is so much support out there. I have always been a strong, determined, out going, and well loved lady but I had needed help - and I hadn't recognised this in myself until that very scary moment! I should have been open, and not hidden my mental health issues with my family and friends much earlier, instead of feeling so shocked, confused and frightened of what was happening to me.
Talking about how you're feeling is the first step in healing. My best girl friend appeared at my door one day, out of the blue - and she just asked me straight out 'what was the matter'? She had seen the change in me.
This is what we all need to do too - be aware of those around us. Those we love and care for. Look out for them. Sometimes it is very difficult to work it out by yourself.
My life since those dark days has been one of joy. Of course there have been challenges, but every experience makes you more able to cope with what lies ahead and also how you can make a difference to others. My sons are now grown up and are strong, happy and well balanced individuals - they have their own challenges ahead no doubt, but I hope they feel well supported and well prepared to cope. We talk honestly, openly and often.
I am so very thankful for the care I received. What helped me was seeing my GP as my first port of call and then a NHS psychiatrist helped me work through my irrational thoughts. A local post natal depression support group made everything seem much more normal and manageable. Yoga helped me centre myself and calm my mind.
Just for the record I have never suffered from mental health problems again.