Post Natal Depression – My Letter To A New Mum
It’s ok to be ‘a little-bit-not-ok’
Yes me – I’m one of the 15% who suffered with a maternal mental health disorder. I talk about it all the time now. It pops up in most conversations. I write about mental health a lot.
I wish I’d have talked about my mental health more six years ago after the birth of Ferne when I thought I was ‘going round the bend’. I had a pretty easy birth – much easier than the first time round with Ted. But the second time round I really bloody struggled mentally.
To today, on World Mental Health Day – I want you to know you it’s ok to not be ok. Even if you’re ‘just a little bit not-ok’.
And it’s more than ok to admit to only being ‘a little-bit-not-ok’. And admitting that you are not 100% – talking about it is the first step to recovery.
I was one of those ‘just a little bit not-ok’ new mums. Was it all ‘in my head?’ – well of course if bloody was. Mental health manifests in the head. There’s no blood, no cut, no limp, no real physical pain – I just knew that I wasn’t coping all that well.
Being tired is normal when you have a new born baby. But feeling sad and hopeless is not normal.
I had a long discussion with my mum (born in the 1960’s) the other day. My Mum (and I expect a lot of her generation) thinks too many people use depression as an excuse for everything nowadays. Back in her day they called it The Baby Blues. “Suck it up, get on with it, stop moaning”. I can’t imagine anything worse that being told to ‘get on with it’ by my family when I felt like I did after my daughter was born.
Never have I felt so alone, so useless, so good-for-nothing, so anxious and so paranoid. The tiredness isn’t just the result of a serious lack of sleep – it’s the relentless thoughts that swirled round my head that exhausted me.
A big black cloud swirling round in my head
Brain fog was also something that really affected me after giving birth. Again, not just a tiredness but a big black cloud swirling round in my head.
My concentration and even my speech was affected. I remember being so worried about my inability to string a sentence together that I thought it might be the onset of something ‘really serious’ – Parkinson’s maybe?
Now I look back and I know I was suffering from something serious – I was suffering from Post Natal Depression.
My Inner Critic
I had some life coaching earlier this year and I was introduced to a popular concept used in psychology and psychotherapy to refer to a sub-personality that judges and demeans a person – the concept is referred to as the “critical inner voice” – the sub-personality is our inner critic – the voice that tells you you’re not good enough – well I’ve be taught some really effective ways to deal with my inner critic to help me smash through comfort zones in business.
I wish I had had this foresight after giving birth to my daughter – If I could have applied this theory to my thoughts, I might have been able to control them better.
My inner critic dragged me down and made every little task – from making up a bottle to changing a nappy – so fucking arduous. She told me I was shit new mum. She goaded me, irritated me and stamped hard on my self-esteem. She exhausted me beyond belief.
I didn’t have any difficulties bonding with my daughter. I didn’t have any thoughts about hurting her – I know that some poor woman do and this is one of the more utterly frightening signs of PND and Post Partum Psychosis.
But I did have the a persistent feeling of sadness, a lack of enjoyment and a loss of interest in everything else around me including poor Mr. He certainly got the brunt of it. Tiredness, trouble sleeping, I couldn’t be arsed with much outside of the everyday, I had problems concentrating and I withdrew from friends and family, or anyone for that matter. I certainly did not want to mingle at any bloody baby groups.
Everything was absolutely exhausting for a good few months and a house move from London to Leeds when Ferne was 6 months old and all that came with it nearly tipped me over the edge…
The drugs can work
Eventually I went to the doctors as I just couldn’t go on as I was. I couldn’t slap on my make-up, smile, and act as if all was ok for a minute longer. My doctor was incredible and gave me a few options. I choose the drugs.
I was prescribed 50mg of Setroline a day to help with my depression and anxiety, which was also in overdrive and once the tablets started to do their thing, I slowly started to see some improvement.
6 years later I still have ‘those days’ – I think I always will. I know my triggers and I know that when I’m feeling ‘a little-bit-not-ok’ it’s no different to having a little bit of a cold, or headache or a twisted ankle. I know I have to rest and recuperate, talk to someone, get outside or play some Gospel music and spend half a day in bed if I need to.
There is no quick and easy way to escape the clutches of PND (no matter how trivial you think it may be) other than to surround yourself with positive people and talk about it. You’ll find that you’re not alone – there are many women just like you who are in exactly the same boat.
Don’t ever undervalue your feelings and your mental state of mind.
It’s ok to be ‘a little-bit-not-ok’. Especially after going through something as traumatising as childbirth.
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I’m a primary school teacher and I’m a mum to a beautiful, bright and bubbly six-year-old. I witness the ups and downs of wellbeing in children every day. Every parent faces the same dilemma – how to ensure the wellbeing of our children – particularly from a mental health perspective in a world that is more pressured than ever in more ways than one.
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