Postnatal Depression

A Different Kind of Experience

Dear Diary,

It’s been 23 weeks since I last wrote a blog post, I was 28 weeks pregnant and didn’t know what road lay ahead of me. Here I am 23 weeks later with the most lovable little boy Alex who is 11 weeks old. Before Alex was born the mental health team in the maternity hospital told me I was a high risk for developing postnatal depression but I brushed it off. I thought to myself that it wouldn’t be me. Oh boy I was wrong! Alex was born on Tuesday the 11th of February and I was completely in awe of my little boy, my whole world was filled with baby bliss and a love I had never experienced before.

This all lasts exactly 1 week. Then a black cloud covered my world with darkness and all that baby bliss that had me on cloud 9 vanished. It all started with Alex not sleeping in his cot he would become hysterical when he was put into it and would only sleep if he lay on my chest, which started to disturb my sleep. All I done all day was cry for no reason whatsoever. I would be looking at Alex and I’d start to cry, I’d be watching TV and I’d start to cry, you get the idea. I completely lost my appetite even having a sip of water was a chore. I felt like my whole world was crumbling around my feet. I didn’t feel like me anymore and I didn’t recognise the person I had become. I was a shell of myself , I no longer found joy in anything including my baby which tore my heart into a million pieces. I wouldn’t even notice but I began to stare into space and completely zone out from what was happening around me, I took for someone to tap me or shout at me to bring me back to reality a place I feared so much.

My sleep was majorly affected; I hadn’t slept for more than 2 hours straight for weeks. I would just lay awake in my dark room staring at the walls. It wasn’t like before that I couldn’t sleep because my head was buzzing with thoughts, this time it was completely empty, which meant it was just me, my empty head and a dark room (well and Mark and Alex snoring). I started to fear nighttime, as soon as 8 o’clock would come I was a ball of anxiety. As the baby blues usually occur for the first 2 weeks after the birth I wasn’t been treated.After Alex was 3 weeks old and my mood was becoming increasingly worse I finally rang the mental health team. The nurse arranged a home visit and she came to see me 3 days later. She diagnosed me with postnatal depression and I was started on antidepressants and a new anti-psychotic medication. The nurse informed me that I would need to rely on the help of my family because I would be extremely drowsy and I couldn’t safely look after Alex’s night feeds.

This was another blow that tore my already broken heart into even more pieces. I felt like I had failed at being a mother, all I could think was he is my baby I should be able to care for him and enjoy being with him which I didn’t. I have never felt so ashamed of myself I just wished that I could put him back inside me so I could lie in bed all day and hide from the awful world I lived in but I couldn’t because he needed to be washed and fed. It was hard because Mark was back in work and I felt like a burden having to get help from mam but of course that was all in my head. Mam was more than happy to help with night feeds and help me during the day. Mam and Mark put food and drinks in front of me constantly and encouraged me to eat when all I  could do was cry. They pushed me to exercise and I pushed back at them but because of their persistence I left the house for walks which really helped.

Never in my life had I felt such sadness, it was like I was carrying the whole world on my shoulders, I felt a heaviness across my whole body that I had never felt before. It was as if all the light was removed and all I could see was darkness. As the weeks went on I felt no better so my medication was increased and slowly over the next week I started to feel like myself again. I noticed I was smiling with Alex again and I started to feel joy when he smiled back at me. I fell in love with him all over again, a feeling which I longed for, for weeks. Slowly I started to become interested in my life again, I would get dressed something I didn’t do for weeks and I started to eat again. I was interested in having a conversations  again (which for people that know me is a very clear sign I was getting back to normal).

Life was becoming bearable and I was enjoying living it with my baby. When you have a baby nobody tells you how hard it will be, everyone talks about the nice side but like everything in life the bad comes with the good. I felt like an awful mother and that I had failed, I thought Alex would be better off without me but I was so wrong, he had no idea what was going on and he will never remember that stage of his life. I was angry at my mind for betraying me like that, all I thought was why me, why now, have I not been through enough but its now clear to me that it was another challenge that I over came and it made me so much stronger and I’ll be a better mother for it.

When I done research into postnatal depression I found other that its such a common illness for new mothers and even mothers that has had their second, third or even fifth baby. As ever I would encourage anyone that is feeling like I did to ask for help because with the proper help you will find the light again and that horrible dark cloud will be replaced by the most amazing sunrise. Postnatal depression is nothing to be ashamed of is something I’ve learned to tell myself over the last few weeks and so should you!

Always remember it’s OK NOT TO BE OK!

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