I’ve been blogging somewhat sporadically the last few weeks. Gone is my focus, my routine and my schedule. It’s less to do with the fact that we have a five week old baby and more to do with that fact that a little over two weeks ago I accepted the fact that I was suffering from either anxiety or Postnatal Depression. D was only two weeks old and it had hit me hard. In the beginning I questioned whether it was the baby blues as the pregnancy hormones began to leave my body and sent me into a spiral. But now that I am five weeks postpartum and I’m still experiencing the painful pang of what feels like depression mixed with anxiety and confusion, I realise that I need help. I was nervous about publishing this post because it’s incredibly personal, probably the most personal I’ve written on the blog as it leaves me somewhat vulnerable, but if even one person relates to this post and realises that they too are suffering which then leads them to get help, then this post has been worth publishing.
You may remember that when D was born I felt an incredible euphoria that I have never felt before. I was on top of the world with sheer happiness. I felt strong, in control and unbelievably content. It was an experience I had never felt before. In the weeks before her birth however, I was suffering anxiety and apprehension which I assumed was due to being incredibly nervous about the C section.
Whether my euphoria after D’s birth was due to sheer relief that the surgery was over, pure happiness at meeting our baby girl, or a surge of hormones creating a chemical imbalance in my worn out and damaged body, it was inevitable that I was bound to come crashing down. But it happened slowly.
It snuck up behind me, sneaking through the shadows and eventually grabbed both my arms behind my back and left me completely defenceless.
The first two weeks at home, B was with me and A and we enjoyed some beautiful family days out. I felt as though I was coping with the lack of sleep and didn’t berate myself for switching to formula feeding when breastfeeding didn’t work out for me. A was delighted with her baby sister and accepted her into our family and home with no worries. Everything truly did seem perfect. Towards the end of B’s second week off work, I began to dwell too much on when he would return to work. I began to worry. I began to dread that first day. Those anxious feelings and spates of panic came back.
Surprisingly, that first day was quite nice as A and I got used to having D with us. B walked in the door that evening to a happy family. It was the second day when the realisation that the frequent anxiety I felt was more than straightforward worry about being on my own with two children. I broke down that day when I suddenly felt an overwhelming panic and pressure. I suddenly felt out of control, lost and unable to cope. I cried incessantly, I couldn’t breathe. I thought the desperation would go on forever. And that was when I realised that this was not me. This reaction was stronger, harder and more severe than anything I’d felt before. The uselessness, and anxiety I felt was taking over.
But it passes and I feel good again. And it makes me question what it is exactly that I’m suffering from.
Am I simply trying to deal with the upheavel of having a newborn and a three year old? Am I suffering from the incredible exhaustion that comes with night feeds and being on the go all day long? Am I regaining my normal hormone balance as the pregnancy hormones say goodbye? Am I suffering from Postnatal Depression?
I had mild postnatal depression after A was born. This time feels so much different. So much more intense. With so little control.
I have yet to go to my doctor. I’m waiting until my six week checkup this Wednesday before seeking professional help. In some way, I’m hoping that I will be better or at least see the light at the end of the tunnel before then. I’m hopeful and I’m not hopeful. Either way, I’m positive that I will be able to get help for this.
I’d rather not go on medication but if needs be I will. My family need me to be the best I can be and right now I’m struggling. I’m doing my best to get through all of this. To regain my old self but it’s difficult. Without B I would have fallen weeks ago, but he has been my center who has kept me talking and kept me focused as best he can. Without my sister who understands and has experienced what I’m going through I would have fallen weeks ago. She’s been there and knows there’s a way out. Without my parents I would have fallen weeks ago. They are my tower of strength, without judgement, with arms open wide to comfort me on days I’m struggling hardest.
How Do I Feel
Postnatal depression is common. I’m sure I’ll list off how I’m feeling and any woman who has suffered will nod in agreement. It’s painful and feels hopeless but it passes before it hits you hard again. I don’t feel the lull and low of PND all the time. My days don’t sit in a pit of darkness and despair. But when it hits I often
Feel worthless, pointless, as though no one would miss me.
I feel scared and hopeless, as though I can’t cope.
I worry that I’m doing everything wrong.
My insecurity has skyrocketed.
I can’t explain how I’m feeling most of the time and I feel pathetic in attempting to make sense of these feelings.
I feel isolated and alone, even when B is with me or I’m surrounded by the family.
I feel incredibly happy one moment and desolate the next.
I have bursts of anger that are incomprehensible and out of character.
I made work commitments which I’m struggling to keep on top of, which if you know me, you know is not like me at all.
How Am I Coping
Somedays I’m not. But since I accepted what I’m going through I’ve attempted to refocus and guide myself towards better health. Our mental health is so important and I’m not afraid to admit that I need help. I am open and honest with my family and friends about what I’m going through. I am not suffering in silence or alone because I want to come through this and I can’t without help. Since admitting how I feel I’ve changed certain aspects of my life. I realise that many of my reactions are not me. There are certain situations that have been so out of character which I’ve recognised and this has made me want to regain control.
I often have to stop and refocus. I need to be in control of my actions but there are times when I’m not. When I notice this I pause and change my reactions. I do my best to let anger, pain and fear wash over me and focus on a positive that will get me through the situation. It takes a lot of mental effort but so far it’s worked.
I talk. As much as I can. B almost gets a daily report of how I’ve managed my day and if there were any episodes or situations which I took control of over the PND. Talking to him has helped to keep myself focused and on track.
Humour. Oddly I’m finding it much easier to laugh these days which I wouldn’t have expected. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll notice I’ve started to play hashtag games which can be incredibly witty and clever (not mine, other players!) Laughing has helped immensely since it gives me something positive to focus on. B has always made me laugh and I’m so glad he introduced me to these games. Not only that but I’ve met some lovely people on twitter which always helps.
Reading. As a by product of being on twitter more, I’m reading more blogs again which I had stopped doing before D was born. I have stumbled across some brilliant PND and depression bloggers who I can relate to so much. Knowing you’re not the only one to go through this helps in a way.
Meditation. I used to spend hours meditating when I was younger and I’ve relearned this skill although I don’t have as much time to do it as I used to. Five minutes here and there is enough at the moment, and all I can manage in reality with two kids. It helps to clear my mind which I need most days. Saying goodbye to the negative and suffocating thoughts this condition can bring is almost essential for me to feel like I have a grip on my own life.
This past week I’ve had more good days than bad. My efforts to focus myself and keep positivity at the forefront of my mind has had a major impact on how I feel. There are days when I feel completely in control and like my old self. And then of course there are days or moments that knock me for six and I struggle to get up again.
Needless to say, I will be talking to my doctor on Wednesday. I’m not afraid to open up and admit I need help. I know this is not me. And I know I will be able to find myself again.
At the end of the day I am still happy amidst the awkwardness of PND. I am incredibly in love with my children and my husband. Protecting my mental health is as much for me as it is them.