Post natal depression isn't a weakness - it's an illness, experienced by normal people

I'm Vicky, I'm 28, I have a gorgeous seven month old son, a loving partner, a fluffy pet cat, a good job, a nice house, and post natal depression. Vicky To everyone looking in, it probably looks like I'm ecstatically happy. Bar my GP, my partner, and my most understanding friends, I haven't told anyone. Not my friends, not my family, not my colleagues, no one.

I'm terrified to talk about it, but at the same time, not talking about it is all consuming. It seems to me, by way of poorly written parenting blogs, sensational gossip magazines, and misguided comments on social media sites, that people think post natal depression is about the bond someone has with their baby and their ability to "parent", or it's just "baby blues" and the inability to cope with a huge life change. But it's not like that.

Sometimes I become convinced that I'm a terrible mother

My baby is my world, my motivation, my raison d'être. Sometimes I look at him and just cry and how perfect he is. But sometimes, I become convinced that I'm a terrible mother, I'm anxious that my baby doesn't like me, I can't sleep at night, I feel detached from the world, and like I'm failing him. And at my absolute worst, I would think about harming my baby, and then about taking my own life.

How am I meant to talk to people about that? How do you casually bring up something that heinous in conversation with friends, who have come to visit to gush at how chubby his little cheeks are, how happy you must be, he's an angel, you should be so proud. I couldn't even tell the understanding level headed GP at my post-birth check up without bawling my eyes out, I felt so ashamed and full of self-loathing, and full of fear that my son would somehow automatically be taken away from me, that I would be branded an "unfit mother".

Knowing that there are people who know and who still love me gives me some hope

After my initial diagnosis I told a couple of friends via email about my appointment and the things my doctor had said. I couldn't bring myself to tell them in person, or even over the phone. Saying words out loud would just make things more real, and it's taken me a long time to feel ready to talk about it. Both the friends I told are parents themselves, and although neither of them have had post-natal depression, I know they've been affected by depression and by other "invisible illnesses", and knew they would be supportive. I haven't been able to tell them about those darkest moments, and I'm not quite at the point where I can call them on a bad day, but knowing that there are people who know and who still love me, gives me some hope.

But on the flip side of this, there have also been times when I've skirted around the issue, tried to steer a conversation with someone towards the point where I can tell them, and then just as I'm about to close my eyes and utter the words "I have PND, I'm taking tablets, it's been tough" they say something that stops me in my tracks, and makes me steer away the conversation back to something less emotive and evocative. Without realising what I was trying to say, I've had friends tell me that post natal depression "is just tiredness", that those suffering "just need to snap out of it", "need to realise how lucky they are", and the absolute worst "some people don't deserve to be parents".

No one with post natal depression is suffering through choice

No one with post natal depression is suffering through choice. No one wants post natal depression. And even just knowing that some people don't think I "deserve" to have endured everything I have in order to have had a child, makes everything even harder.

I would love to be able to tell my all of my friends, explain to my family, but I don't know how to. I would love for someone to admire my son, tell me he's adorable, and then ask my how I'm honestly doing. But more importantly than that, I want people to realise that post natal depression isn't a weakness or a lack of facing up to responsibility, it's an illness, it's a terrifying, numbing, dark and twisted illness, experienced by normal people."

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Comments

Pond

I understand where you are entirely . I had it for 7 years.

Post Natal Depression

My heart goes out to Vicky. I too suffered pnd 25 and 23 years ago. Like Vicky, I was 28 and I had wonderful pregnancies with both of my boys. It was my Health Visitor who noticed something wes wrong with me. I coped very well looking after the boys but wasn't looking after my own needs. Things got very bad very quickly and I too just wanted to die. Everyone around me seemed to be happy and cooed over the baby. I was just on auto pilot. Eventually things came to a head and I was placed in the care of the local psychiatric hospital. I was very lucky as the hospital had a mother and baby unit at the time and I was able to recover somewhat whilst my boy was being looked after. I did recover enough to get my life back on track and I eventually fell pregnant with my second son. He was 11 months old when I was admitted to hospital again with pnd. This time I wasn't so fortunate in that the baby unit had closed. My dear husband still had to work but my friends rallied round and set up a rota for caring for baby. That and input from social services family aides who were also marvellous, meant that we still had money coming in as hubby was able to work. It also gave me time to get better both in hospital and at home. It really annoys me when I hear women say they had PND only to find out that they had a couple of days sobbing, not saying that isn't horrible but when you put it into context... Now, at the age of 53, I still suffer depression but that doesn't mean to say that if you have PND, you will be like me. Thank you for reading my story.

I am in awe of your honesty and openess.

Your a brave and I can see fantastic mum - one who cares so much about their child they believe wrongly at times they are not good enough. Your bravery here blows me away.

Foggy PND

Hi Vicky, - beautiful pic of you & your young man btw! Well done for feeling brave enough to write this, although it shouldn't need to be 'brave' at all. Unfortunately stigma persists and it needs more of us just talking about it and getting it out there so that it becomes more and more acceptable and understood. Good for you for playing your part, even though I know it is difficult. As for the people who say: [post natal depression "is just tiredness", that those suffering "just need to snap out of it", "need to realise how lucky they are", and the absolute worst "some people don't deserve to be parents"] are simply very ignorant and fortunate never to have experienced it themselves. My children are loved and cherished and absolutely the light of my life. Just because that light was clouded by a PND fog doesn't mean I shouldn't be their mother. What a nonsense. Does anyone that gets ill not deserve to be a parent? Of course not, it's just that the parent will needs help and support to come through their illness, as anyone would, and then they can get back to being the brilliant parent they are. My boys will grow up being understanding of mental illness, and will be all the more richer for their broadness of perspective. You are doing marvelously to understand yourself, know something isn't right and seek help. The sooner PND is treated, the quicker the recovery, and the more of your baby you get to enjoy without the damn fog. Things DO get better, as the four of us trekking in the Sahara next March for PANDAS (Pre & Postnatal Depression Charity are testament to. I'm pretty certain none of us imagined we would be doing that when we were in the thick of PND. Keep fighting. Lots of love and best wishes to you on your journey xxx

Better

Hi, my heart went out to you when I read your post. As a PND sufferer with both my children I know that the very darkest thoughts are the hardest to say. My worst were seeing my son lying dead in his cot- I was convinced that this was certain to happen. When I finally made myself tell my husband, I felt a weight lift off of me...and the more I shared with him, the less power over me these thoughts seemed to have. I also wanted to say that I know you probably don't feel like it will, but it does get better. Take care.

Thank you

Thank you for talking about it. I recognise everything you describe, but I didn't say anything to anyone and was lucky enough to get away with it. This sounds bad, but I went back to work part time when my son was 5 months old and that really helped. It is such an odd feeling to know how idyllic your life seems from the outside and not being able to join in the fun. I wish I had spoken up when I felt my worst. I try to make sure that I ask my friends about themselves when they have babies so that they know they have someone who understands if they are feeling the way I did.

living with depression

To be honest, we just need to be strong. I've suffered from depression for over 5 years now. no one would have ever thought i would be depressed. I've got the courage to open up now, i understand its not easy but no one is going to harm you if you open up. most importantly be careful who you tell your problems to.

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