I try to keep things open and honest over here as much as I can, I like to think that we can all learn from each others experiences, whether good or bad. Post natal depression is something I have been wanting to write about for a while but the time never seemed right. Well, now it is and it’s something I think every single mom and mom-to-be should read.
When Aria was a week old I put this YouTube video up chatting about how I initially struggled to connect with Aria. I mentioned that I was keeping an eye on myself in case PND decided to attack but life carried on and things were as good as they could possibly be considering we had a newborn baby.
We moved into our new house when Aria was about 2 weeks old and I was finding motherhood a challenge that I could meet with ease. Breastfeeding was going well, Aria was sleeping like a dream and life in general was grand. But something felt off, I could feel it and Dan could certainly notice it. I was organised, completely functional, handling all of my responsibilities and meeting all of my deadlines with a smile on my face and a spring in my step – on the outside I looked like I had this parenting gig waxed. But this wasn’t really the case: I felt like I was standing on the sidelines watching my life pass me by. Nothing really excited me very much and although I wouldn’t say that I felt depressed, I certainly wasn’t my normal happy chappy self. I wrote about how my marriage had taken a bit of a beating after having Aria over here, and that was the night that Dan and I ended up having a long and difficult chat.
There was no denying that I wasn’t as affectionate as I used to be (read: our sex life was close to non-existent) and that I was just completely disconnected from everything emotionally. I want to make it very clear that I wasn’t feeling sad or depressed or even hopeless because those were the signs of PND that I was looking for. After some hard truths and some deep soul searching, I agreed to go and see a therapist and consider taking some medication.
To cut a long story short, I was diagnosed with post natal depression that was most likely caused by the complete circus that was my hormones. And when I actually sat down and thought about it, my body had been through a heck of a lot in 12 months: two pregnancies, one miscarriage, a D & C, birthing a child and breastfeeding. I was prescribed a low dosage of anti-depressants and although I wasn’t breastfeeding anymore, they are perfectly safe to take if you are nursing.
I’ve been on my medication for almost two months now and the change that I feel is amazing. I was hesitant to go onto anti-depressants as I had heard so many stories of them making you feel emotionless and almost like you aren’t in your own body. I didn’t suffer from any of those horrid symptoms (although I am only on 20mg) and feeling “better” was a very gradual process. Of course I still have tough days, everyone does and that is completely fine. The difference is that now, I feel like I am back in the drivers seat of my life and that has had a positive knock on effect in all of my relationships, but especially my marriage.
Post natal depression is such a hush hush topic, and when it is spoken about every now and again, you only hear about the worst case scenarios. I wanted to tell my story and share my experience for a few reasons: firstly, it’s something that needs to be spoken about. Secondly, we need to realise that PND can manifest in many different forms, not just by “being sad”. And thirdly, so that the mom who is feeling out of sorts and just not herself knows that there is absolutely no shame in getting some help. It does not make you a bad mother, in fact, it makes you a brilliant mother – by asking for help, you are doing everything that you can to be the best version of yourself for your child.
I’m not sure how long I will stay on my medication for, at the moment it’s indefinite, and I have had to make peace with that. It was very difficult for me to admit that I wasn’t perfect – I felt such an immense pressure to prove myself as this amazing mom who had a perfect life and a perfect child. Truth is that even though I love my life and I wouldn’t change it for the world, my child has poonamis (and sometimes on me), my marriage isn’t always sunshine and roses, and I have post natal depression. And you know what? That’s okay, because I’m being proactive about all of it.
* Photo credit: So… Photo Studio