Postnatal depression & anxiety
What you're about to read won't make everything better. But I hope it helps, keep reading, I promise I have a point to make and I know what you're going through.
Right now this motherhood thing is all new; it's petrifying. Your labour was so "not textbook" it's going in a medical journal. That took its toll. You don't feel right. You didn't get the rush of love they said you would. Some days you don't even like him. Some days you can't be bothered to eat. You cry. You feel confused, like you're bad at this. You thought you'd be okay. Practically you're fine. But mentally you're not. In the coming months the following will happen:
You will feel isolated, alone. As if no one understands. You will behave as "normally" as you can manage. You will convince people you're okay, just tired.
Having convinced everyone you're okay, what you pray for is someone to notice that you're drowning. And that person to have the guts to take everything off your hands and swim you to shore.
You will wonder why you get up on a morning. You will get up. You and I both know it's because it's not socially acceptable to not get up. Especially when there's a baby who needs you. So you'll get up.
You will feel numb. Nothingness. You still laugh & smile, you still cry at sad things but your default setting is now numb. And you'll want it all to end. To all go away. You will feel like you want to die, but not to kill yourself. There's a difference. (That's important. Remember that.) You want there to be a nothingness that matches your emotions. You'll want the world to stop.
You will ask for, and get help. Your friends and family will rally. But you'll hide a lot of what is going on from everyone. Even yourself to a degree.
You will look at your baby and feel nothing for quite some time. No adoration, no joy, no love. Just nothing. He requires effort. You don't have that effort. He's the reason you get up but you don't want to.
You will feel the most guilty you've ever felt in your life. At all times. For feeling the above. For not being perfect.
You will panic about tiny inconsequential things. You will feel constantly out of control. You will feel lost and frightened in your own skin. Simple decisions will flummox you. You will have a mild panic attack in John Lewis. You can't do crowds right now. Don't force yourself.
Once you're diagnosed with post natal depression & anxiety you'll feel guilty for being "ill" and putting pressure on friends and family. You'll feel inadequate and ashamed for being unable to cope.
You'll hate the PND for stealing your baby from you because you won't remember much about the early days - you went through it in a haze of no emotion, except fear. You'll feel guilt for not remembering. You'll feel robbed.
You'll have a lot of people ask how you are. They'll do it with a look in their eyes that means they're asking, in a public place, if you're still suicidal (awesome btw people). You'll say you are doing okay even if you're not because that's what they want to hear. People will say stupid things to you. Once you're on the road to recovery you'll have people comment about how it's "a shock to the system, parenthood" or "it's such a change". You'll want to scream in their face. But the comments come from a place of love and awkwardness because no one knows what to say to you. And you get that, because even you don't know what to say to yourself!
There will be days, when you start getting back on your feet that you suddenly feel dreadful again. And you'll worry it's coming back. You'll panic. You will do whatever you have to to hide it. And it probably won't stay, but you'll be horrified that you might have to live it again.
You'll panic about having more children. You'll wonder if you'll get it again. If you could live it again with another child to look after as well. But you'll hate that you still want another one. That you can't seem to convince yourself that not having one is a good idea. Because you want another, but it's a scary prospect.
All of the above is a lot to digest mama, it's scary as hell. I'm sorry. I won't sugar coat it for you. You don't need that. You need to keep reading because here comes the important bit...
You're a good mum.
You are. Your boy is happy, healthy, funny & he loves you. He's a little Herbert, he's cheeky, clever & already an epic flirt. You're doing great.
But you're forever changed. Not just by parenthood but by the PND as well. You're more tuned into yourself. You'll become more astute as to what you can and can't do, what you will and won't put up with. You'll become more selfish with your time but that selfish bubble will include your baby and his daddy.
You'll be fiercely protective of your love for your baby. Once the love comes, and it will come, it'll flood you & you'll suddenly get it. You'll want to have felt this since the second he was born, but now you do it's so all encompassing you'll never want to let it fade. And it won't. How much you love him will make you cry, because you didn't always feel it... and we're back to guilt... (sorry - pretty sure that it will never go away, there's always something to feel guilty about...)
You will think about your mental health every day. You will question if it's made you do something differently. You will wonder if not being ill would make you better or worse as a mum.
You will find your coping mechanisms & you'll make the scary decision to take the medication, because for you, it's the right thing to do right now. And in a years time you'll look back you'll want to know all of this because even though you're not "better" yet, not 100%, you have found yourself again. You can be you.
You are stronger than you could ever imagine. Because you still raised your amazing human while going through this. You carried on. You didn't let it end you. You are a different you.
(Oh and you get a cleaner - life win!)
Until next time mama,