The Deep Dark Hole
Do you remember in Ante-Natal class when you were given a leaflet on PND that you shoved in your Bounty pack with everyone else? I will be honest, I didn’t really read it, or understand the dangers of not being fully educated on this. I thought perhaps it would creep up on you, little by little so you could be prepared. Did this happen to me? No, it seemed one minute I was a new mum, the next I was in a deep dark hole I couldn’t see myself ever getting out of.
4 months in, I broke, completely. We were waiting for Elijah’s heart surgery (he had been diagnosed with CHD at birth), and we were in a sort of limbo. Where we had no restrictions until the op, we were just like any other new family in a way. Sleep deprived, anxious and just trying to get through the day with a refluxy baby and a lot of caffeine. Greg had returned to work, and I had planned to leave my family. I had it all thought out. I could no longer cope with being a mum. I sat there day after day wondering why the hell we had gotten ourselves into this. Yes, our circumstances were slightly different, after all Elijah needed an operation but at that moment in time it was still all the normal mum stuff weighing me down. I couldn’t cope, I begged for Greg to return from work but when he offered help I didn’t want it. I couldn’t bare for him and everyone to know what a failure I was. It then kicked in even more with the guilt because Elijah needed this surgery. That it was my fault, that I wasn’t being the best mum I could be, that I grew him wrong and caused this. I couldn’t go more than a few hours without something hitting me in the face reminding me of how I was feeling. I hid it from everyone, cancelled plans and stayed at home. I spent days on end Googling success stories about Elijah’s condition and surgery and wondering if he will make it, whilst simultaneously feeling like I should never have made the choice to be a mum in the first place.
I then went onto auto pilot and reverted to my old age defence mechanisms. Punishing myself and trying to scrape back any little control I could find. If I could punish myself them maybe I could grit my teeth and get through the day. Did this help? No. I wouldn’t eat, I would abuse any pills I could find. At that stage I never thought I had a problem, I was too far in the hole to see any way out. I accepted this is how I would be now, I was a failure. I had no patience, I shouted too much, me and Greg were strained and I couldn’t tell you what any of my friends were doing at that time. I was an emotional wreck ready to boil over at any time. I couldn’t keep it in forever, something had to give.
This had been going on for around a year, and a good few months after a successful surgery. I was not able to move past the feelings I had. I was so angry this happened to us. I resented the fact, that I tainted the first year of my son’s life. I wasn’t the best mum I could be as I wasn’t me. After 18 months I bit the bullet, I had to get help. I had to do it on my own. I walked to the Doctors as if I was walking to the gallows. Would they judge me? Would they call social services? Would they take my child away? Was I abnormal and just being ungrateful? Selfish even? The GP, listened to me, she did ask if Elijah was at risk I said no firmly, she then asked if I thought I was at risk from myself, yes was my answer.
I was put on medication and referred for counselling, the initial diagnosis was I had Post Natal Depression but I was also told I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I then began to write, anything and everything about how I felt at the time, and Elijah’s surgery journey. It began to help others, people contacted me to say they too felt like I did. I felt free from being so honest. For the first time in 18 months I could see light out of the hole I was in. Now, I know the importance of supporting others who find themselves in the darkness, to talk, to be honest and most of all not to judge and most of all there is no shame in PND.
Every Friday will see a new “Me Too” feature here on the blog, inviting fellow mums with experience of maternal mental health to share their story. One of the most important things when talking about our Maternal Mental Health is keeping the conversation going by sharing our experiences, our stories, our fears and in turn our kick ass bravery in standing up against the taboos surrounding the illness and showing Every Mum out there that its not only OK to talk about mental health but it is vital in ensuring we all get our right to Enjoy Motherhood! Therefore, if you fancy sharing your story (no matter what part of it you are currently on) and in turn your kick ass bravery in turning up to the fight every day, then I would LOVE to hear from you! Please email me email@example.com. I look forward to hearing your stories and standing together and shouting “ME TOO!”.
If you believe “Every Mum Deserves the Right to Enjoy Motherhood” then please come and join The Every Mum Movement by liking The Facebook page, following on Facebook, Instagram and signing up to the movement on the website.
If you would like to join the closed Facebook group called The Every Mum Club please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.