As the spotlight shines brightly on mental health this week I wanted to share my own personal journey with you…
With both my children I suffered crippling postnatal depression but when I had my first it was pretty bad. The feelings of low self worth smothered me so much I genuinely believed that my daughter would be better off without me. I felt like I had failed her, my family and my gender.
I had a mental tick list of what the perfect mum should be like and I had failed at every single hurdle. I was the queen of fake smiles and niceties but inside I was slowly dying. I resented this small human being so much. When she would look up at me with her big blue eyes I felt absolutely nothing. My own eyes held a constant sadness and when I look back at those pictures even now it brings back some of those feelings of pain and guilt.
I was incredibly fortunate that my midwife was very experienced and saw straight through me. Within days I was in front of a lovely team who put their (under funded) supportive arms around me and created an environment where in time I could open up and be honest. I had access to counsellors, doctors and a health team who would come in and help me do the practical things with my daughter. There is no doubt that without that help I genuinely believe my daughter today would be without her mum.
For all those women who feel like they are in the eye of the storm at the moment it’s ok to not be ok.
It’s ok to not experience that ‘rush’ of love for your child that you think will happen naturally, it’s ok that your preferred dress sense is your PJ’s (mine had to be burnt after I lived in them for weeks!), it’s ok that you feel numb and are just going through the motions. You’re not failing, you’re poorly and there is help out there.
You might rather lock yourself in a dark cupboard and sob uncontrollably but don’t hide away. The biggest step is to admit that you’re struggling . The fears you have about having your baby taken off you or that you will be judged are untrue. If you don’t have a supportive family, go to your GP, speak to your midwife or health visitor. There is help out there and not all that help leads down the path of antidepressants (although a big shout out to my fellow pill popping mum’s out there – we might rattle a bit but we totally and utterly rock!).
It’s a slow process but with the right support you will get there (whatever your special ‘there’ is). And holy crap there might actually be days when you enjoy being a mum (although there will be a lot more days when you could quite easily sell them on ebay and prosecco is part of your staple diet).