Written by Ross Hunt for his blog, Isablog.
I like writing Isabelle letters to her future self. This is going to be one of them. I should really do them more often, but I feel that this is going to be one of the more important ones. This letter to my baby is going to be about the fact I had postnatal depression when she was born. I want to tell her about it, and this is part of the way I’m going to do it. When I came out with my story, I had a lot of people saying it was bad as my baby would eventually discover the story and hate me for it. I said it then, and I’ll say now, she won’t find it. I’ll show her it. And this is part of how I’ll tell her.
This is going to be a hard letter to write, but probably a harder one to read. But don’t worry. I’m going to be with you as you read it. I’m not going to let you find any of this out on your own; I want to be there with you as you read what I’m about to say.
Right now, you’re 11 months old, and I guess I’m writing this as you never know what could happen to me in the future. I just wanted to have something to add to your box of letters that talks about this. And it’s going to be a much easier topic to bring up if you can read about it first, and then we can talk about it after. Besides, I want all of this to come from me, and not have you discover it somewhere else.
You see, when you were born I had something called postnatal depression. I’m not sure how old you are as you’re reading this, what you understand about depression, or how much of it you will be able to grasp. But either way I’m here with you to talk about it, or I’ve died and your mother will have to do it. If that’s the case, then I’m sorry that I’m dead. Hopefully you know about death, otherwise one of us has to explain that to you as well now, so whenever you read this letter, it’s going to be a fun day!
Where was I? I will apologise, daddy does love to talk nonsense and go off on a tangent. I dare say you’re very much used to that by now.
This might not sound very nice. But for the first 12 or so weeks after you were born, I didn’t like you very much. Some of the following things are going to be hard to read, but it’s very important that I’m honest with you, even if that honesty is difficult to hear. But there were times when I hated you. I regretted having you, and thought that my life had been ruined by you being born. I know that’s hard to read, but trust me, it’s incredibly hard to write too.
I’ll be honest and tell you that the baby stage of your life is one that at times I’ve found very hard. I still occasionally struggle these days, and I’m by no means a perfect dad. I wish all of this came easy to me, but for whatever reason, it just doesn’t.
But you have to know this: those feelings are never me. You see, there’s something inside daddy called depression. It’s been there a long time, and is probably always going to be there in some form. But I never thought it would try to tell me that I didn’t like you. You see, depression can cause a person to think horrible things without their control, and make a person feel unhappy, angry, or even worse, make a person feel nothing at all. And that’s what it often did to me.
None of it was your fault. I don’t want you to feel any blame in any of this. You were an amazing baby, and hopefully you’re an amazing child, but it didn’t matter. My depression didn’t care how good or bad you was, it was just telling me not to love you, and to get away. But luckily, I didn’t listen. My life could be very different now if I did. But deep down, underneath all the dislike, fear and depression, lay a love that I knew was there, but one I just struggled to see. That love, along with the support from mummy (mam, mum, mammy, there are too many versions) kept me going.
I hope that what we have now, as you’re reading this, is amazing. I hope that we love each other very much, we can talk about anything, and we’re all still together as one happy family. Who knows, it might be more than just you now. We could have our second, even third, child by the time you’re reading this. Or your mummy and I could be divorced and I only see you on alternative weekends. Which if that’s the case then that sucks. What’s divorce? Now I have to explain that one too? I’m not very good at this.
Whatever is happening in your life now, and wherever it goes, just know this: no matter how bad I felt back then, I will always you love you very much.
I know you’re going to have questions about this. And I always want to be someone you can talk to about anything. This letter was just a way of getting the conversation started.