I am currently on the road to recovery, stepping out of that darkness of postnatal depression. My son is now 2 years, 8 months old. l now love him with the passion you imagine a mother should love their child; imagination can be very different to reality.
My PND was triggered by the trauma of a shoulder dystocia delivery, his head was delivered but his shoulders did not follow. The struggle to remove him resulted in his arm being broken. My priority at this point was my son, and his recovery, I thought very little about my own health.
Life as a new mum is hard
Life as a new mum is hard. I didn’t know any different, and I thought what I was experiencing in those first months and even years was normal for a new mum. I cried, my son cried, I cried even more. I felt like I had failed in delivering him without harm. I felt like I had failed as a woman. I felt like I was failing as a mother. He lost weight and I blamed myself for not feeding him enough, confusing hunger with cries of pain from his arm. As time went on that self doubt, that parasite that lived inside me spoke up louder and clearer, taking over me.
It told me I had ruined my life, that my son had ruined my life. I felt resentment, I felt anger, frustration that I could do nothing about it. That parasite fed off these thoughts and encouraged them. I screamed at my child, my own flesh and blood. My blood boiled and I had to resist every urge to do him harm. That wasn’t how a mother should be but still that parasite told me not to tell. It didn’t want to be found, didn’t want me to get help.
I was plagued by the words 'you're a bad mother', 'you can't cope'
I was plagued by the words, “you’re a bad mother”, “you can’t cope”, “he really does have it in for you, he’s so easy with everyone else”. I was anxious, I was agitated, I was paranoid, but somehow I didn’t think I had anything wrong with me. I’d bonded with my son when he was born and I’d put my all into making sure he was protected – to me that meant that it wasn’t postnatal depression but just that I was not cut out to be a mum.
As time went on and my son recovered, my mental health got worse. Now that I could release some of the worry over him, something broke in me instead. I’d held on and been strong through a traumatic time for his sake, but you can’t be that strong and not come out unharmed.
The day I spoke out and got help changed my life
I didn’t get help until he was 20 months old. I had hardly spoken about what was going on, my parasite had kept me quiet, kept me thinking it was just my life, stopped me from revealing what was going on. That day that I saw my GP, spoke to my husband and my brother, my life changed. The power of externalising thoughts, instead of internalising them for them to grow and fester is immense. Talking at this point of course didn’t make me better, but it was a good start and some of the pressure had lifted from my shoulders. I had acknowledged the parasite and it had a name: Postnatal Depression.