By Karen Edwards
My son was 10 months old when I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. We had chosen to do the three most stressful things in life (move house, have a baby, get married) in the same year. It was when things calmed down it hit me, but the signs had been showing earlier. I had ignored them telling myself I was being silly.
I was struggling to function, and felt like I was moving through treacle with lead weights on my limbs. Constantly tired, not sleeping properly but not being able to break the insomnia cycle. I felt like a failure as a mother as I hadn’t been able to breastfeed, I wasn’t doing enough for my baby and I was a useless wife to my husband. My inner voice was critical of my inability to meet my own, way too high, standards. At the same time I was chastising myself for feeling so low when I had so much to be grateful for and happy about.
After spending yet another night up on my own in floods of tears, I decided it was time to get help. So I went to my GP and the support I received was excellent. I was referred to the NHS counselling services and had a course of CBT. I also started taking antidepressants. The fog started to lift and I was able to tackle the negative thinking with the help of my CBT counsellor. My mum and my brother were also really supportive.
My son has just turned three, and I am now feeling as though I am over the PND. Unfortunately there are other issues in my life which have hampered my recovery and I am still taking the antidepressants. However, I no longer see myself as a failure and instead feel confident that I am a good mother, doing the best I can for my child. I no longer feel guilty about having “me time” and value the importance of being kind to myself.
I still find it difficult to talk about my PND. It feels as though there is an unspoken pressure to not let the world see you can’t cope, but the few people I have talked to have been very understanding. Having a child is a major life change, really hard work and a very steep learning curve. My message to any new mum would be don’t struggle alone. You are not alone, there is help out there and it’s so important to be healthy for your child.
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