Recently I shared my story about my mental health after pregnancy, how I have been feeling anxious and horrible since I gave birth to Alex in October. I have been completely overwhelmed by the response I have had to the post, everyone has been so supportive and I was actually quite surprised to see how many fellow bloggers have felt the same way as me, I really felt like I was the only one. Although I was terrified publishing that post, worried I would be judged or people would view me differently, I needn’t have worried as the response has been nothing but positive. I have had a post sitting in my drafts for months now, a post I wrote the day I realised something had to give. The day where I phoned my health visitor in tears and spoke to my GP. The first day of my fight to get myself back on track, to find myself again amongst the anxiety and stress, yet it was also the day where I felt like I had hit rock bottom. After allowing myself to be honest and share my experience of perinatal anxiety I have started to feel a lot better. It is a slow climb though and there are still bad days, days that are just so difficult, where the intrusive thoughts take over and I feel like I am being the worst possible Mum ever. But writing about all those horrible thoughts and feelings has really helped me to start to feel better so I have decided it is time I pressed publish on that post that has been sitting gathering dust in my drafts folder for months. It is quite hard for me to read back as the feelings I wrote about are still very raw but I know that by sharing them it will help me to recover from this and hopefully show other mums who are feeling this way that they are not alone.
The day I asked for help.
For the past 3 weeks or so I’ve felt like crap. I wish I could tell you all why but I just don’t know. I’ve tried to ignore the bad feelings, the anxiety, the sadness and the feeling of being completely overwhelmed for no reason but I can’t.
All over Christmas I plastered a smile on my face, it was a fake most of the time but I wanted so badly for it to be real. My baby boy’s first Christmas and the first one where my eldest was excited for Santa’s visit and I didn’t enjoy it. The whole day I just felt flat, no amount of beautiful smiles from my baby or magical looks of joy from my boy could shift this bad feeling, this feeling that the weight of the world was on my shoulders, crushing me and spoiling everything.
Yesterday I told my husband how bad I felt and today I crumbled to pieces after waking up still sad, even after letting the lid off the bottle and spilling out the truth to my husband. I thought I’d feel better after telling him I’ve been feeling sad every day but I don’t feel better at all. This morning I woke up wanting today to be a good day, by 10am I was on the phone to the health visitor in tears and by half past 10 she was sat on my sofa telling me it wasn’t my fault I felt this way and that I will feel better again, it might just take some time. After letting all my anxious thoughts and feelings come flooding out and admitting to her I had no idea why I felt this way, the health visitor got me to make an appointment to see the GP. That is where I’ve just got home from now with a leaflet on post natal depression in one hand and a bit of paper with details of a follow up appointment for 2 weeks time in the other.
I always thought post natal depression was something that happened in the very early days once your baby was born, not nearly 2 months in. I always thought post natal depression meant you weren’t bonding with your baby and made you feel like you weren’t a good enough mother. It turns out post natal depression can be those feelings but so many others too. It’s not normal to want to cry every day for no reason. It’s not good for you to feel anxious over leaving the house and keeping yourself cooped up within the same 4 walls every day. Feeling overwhelmed, miserable, anxious and generally rubbish are all signs of post natal depression, according to my leaflet, GP and health visitor.
I have to admit, I feel like a fraud for even entertaining the idea I may have post natal depression. Yes I am crying every day and feel the worst I’ve ever felt but what about all those women who feel so much worse than I do right now? How can I have the same illness as mothers who feel like ending it all when I have never even contemplated doing something like that? How can I have PND when there are mothers suffering out there who can’t love their baby no matter how hard they try but I feel nothing but love when I look at my children? Are my feelings still valid? Are things really as bad as they feel
I thought talking to my husband and health care professionals would help. I thought writing about it now would work as some kind of therapy. I hoped trying to sort my jumbled thoughts into succinct sentences would help. It hasn’t. Talking has left me feeling fearful for what’s to come, meetings with perinatal workers and potential counselling. Writing has made me worry I sound like a drama queen, overreacting because parenting two kids is proving to be more difficult than she thought. Where blogging is usually cathartic, writing this post has been stressful and although the words have flown fairly smoothly from mind to keyboard, my chest has been knotted and heart has been thumping the whole time I’ve been sat here.
I don’t know when I’ll publish this, or if I ever will but I just had to write it. I don’t know how long I will feel this way but I’m hoping now I’ve shared my feelings with all the right people I can start to feel like my old happy self again. Talking may not have made me feel better but it hasn’t made me feel any worse. I know it was the right thing to do though and if you’re feeling like this too then speak up, it’s the first, admittedly most difficult, step to getting yourself better.
I wrote that sometime at the end of last year and over the last 6 weeks or so there have been lots of peaks and troughs but now my eyes are filling with unexplained tears less often and the anxiety can be kept at bay most days with lots of hard work on my part. I know it’s going to take time but I really hope a day will come soon when I feel better again, I don’t want Alex’s first year to be ruined by these feelings. I just want to smile more, laugh more, enjoy my life more. I don’t want to have to fake any of that. I want it all to be real.
This is the beginning of my story about mental health after pregnancy , if you have ever felt the same way I would love for you to share your experience in the comments below. Although I was sad to read that so many other bloggers have had to deal with similar feelings to me, it was also such a relief to know I was not the only one and I found great comfort in reading the stories of others. If you are going through this right now too I am sending you a virtual hug and, just know this, I know how you feel. You’re not alone.
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