In this blog my coach Kelly shares her experience of post natal depression (PND)
PND is associated with childbirth, and can affect both sexes. With it affecting more than 1 in 10 women and similar figures for men it's something we need to raise awareness of - read Kelly's personal experience and see the link at the bottom of our blog on support for men too!
I was pregnant with our honeymoon baby and was thrilled. Pregnancy was fairly good until little one didn’t want to come out! I went two weeks over and I still wasn’t quite ‘ready’ to have a baby. I was so scared and nervous! Being a bit of a control freak I was really not enjoying the unknown of giving birth or what life was like.
After a very long, arduous labour (72hrs), with a little help at every stage, our beautiful 10lb 11oz girl finally arrived. As wonderful as it was to finally meet her, the nerves didn’t really subside. I felt enormous pressure of being responsible for this little life, I found it quite difficult to relax into.
I knew about the 5th or 6th day ‘baby blues’ which usually pass quite quickly. Only for me it never really seemed to pass. I struggled for months breastfeeding, topping up with formula as I wasn’t producing enough milk. My wrist was strapped up with ‘mummy’s thumb!’ my back ached, I barely slept as any little noise she made I was wide awake – I put her in her own room at 3 months to attempt to get a decent night’s sleep!
I felt like I was stuck in my feeding chair all day at times, I found it hard to leave the house, even for a walk. I was upset a lot, snappy at my loved ones and at times red hot angry at my husband.
Of course, in other moments I was doing my very best to continue living ‘normally’, going to baby groups, food shopping etc
I had a sense that something wasn’t right. This is sooo not how I thought it was going to be, and certainly nowhere near what I wanted it to be like. I think it was only ever my dad that said I should go to the doctors and speak to someone. The baby blues he called it, prolonged!
Both my mum and I were in denial and ignorance. Surely I didn’t have PND?! PND is when you have no attachment to your child I thought? Or where women can’t cope and try to harm their babies. Well this wasn’t me. In fact I was almost polar opposite. I couldn’t bear to be without her, even very reluctantly having my mum look after her.
I spent months deliberating, attempting to get my head around PND (which actually I don't think you really can!)
I can’t have PND, how or why would I have PND? I mean me?? I am trained to empower others in their lives and here I am stuck, unable to help myself! Why me? Was it because of the tricky birth? Maybe I am not cut out for kids?
Lots of negative thoughts about why this was happening. I had lack of knowledge and personal utter disbelief that this could happen to me!
I found it difficult to talk to others about it, I felt like I was complaining about the same things all the time (which I hate) and was afraid I was boring my friends and family. Some would say things along the lines of ‘you need a kick up the backside’, snap out of it’, ‘be grateful for what you have’, to those who are overly sympathetic to the point of pity almost, to those with a genuine understanding.
I was fearful to go to the doctor;
I was completely sucked into the stigma of taking anti-depressants: You're weak, you’ll be on them forever.
What will other people think of me? Will they look down on me as a lesser me? Will people employ me? Do I have to tell people? Does it have to be a secret?
I was embarrassed.
I didn’t want it to be true.
I FELT a lesser me, a weaker me.
Sad that I was unable to ‘snap out of it’.
I felt completely out of control of my emotions and mind.
I spent almost a whole year like this. Until several things happened. I finally spoke out to a dear friend of mine who pointed out that if I were physically ill, or had broken my arm, I would go to the doctor/specialist for help and this was no different.
This was my beginning of understanding mental health. I’d had enough! I couldn't keep struggling to motivate myself, I didn't want to force myself to socialise with my friends, I wanted to get back to the confident, empowered person that I am.
So finally, after a row with my husband where my anger, and lack of self-control actually scared me, I knew I had to do something to change things as they were!
The trip to the doctor was far less scary than I anticipated. I will never forget when she said "Yes, it sounds like you have a mild case of PND".
MILD, MILD!!! OMG! My heart immediately went out to those women who suffered worse than me, as this year had been tough. I too was blessed, that I had always felt so much love for my girl and grateful to be a mum.
I started a low dose of antidepressant and within weeks my life started to improve. The best way I would describe it is ‘The Fog Lifted’. I honestly felt like I could start to see life as it really is, and not through the blurred filter that I’d had.
I became calmer, was able to hold conversations and not be so defensive, I was also able to look ahead and make plans. I also had a course of counselling, as antidepressants really work best with a talking therapy too, and felt strong enough to slowly come off them within a year.
I began to experience and have an understanding of what it is to be mentally healthy. For me it wasn’t my ideal to have to use ‘pills’ to have me be mentally fit but boy did it work! The way I see it is I am a little poorly and am doing something to make myself better much like I would with a physical illness. And as physical illnesses differ in severity, so does mental illness.
I share my story now for many reasons:
I don’t want others to suffer as I did, I hope this raises awareness of what may happen after birth.
To not be embarrassed but to talk to someone about it.
Taking anti-depressants isn’t the only solution, you could try different talking therapies, aromatherapy, and alternative medicines. My point is to please TAKE ACTION.
The stigma about anti-depressants is old news! You can be very much in control. Discuss with your doctor dosage, length of time, and create a plan on how to reduce them once you are fighting fit again.
Mental Health is a thing! People are starting to speak out and share what it is like for them. Look after yourself. Look after your loved ones' mental health.
Be more aware of when people are going through stressful times, when they are not quite themselves.
TALK to one another.
We all just want to feel better, no actually, I just think we all want to feel like 'me' again.
If this blog has resonated with you, please share on your social media, using the hashtags below.
#timetotalk #timetochange #endthestigma
Remember men experience PND too! Support can also be found via the following sites;
I’d love to hear how you felt about this and our other blogs – comment at the bottom or contact me via;
tweet me: @sharonnatflair