When my PND was most severe, I considered driving my car into a wall.
I was at some traffic lights and the thought just struck me, I remember so vividly. I was a useless mother, a terrible wife and I had been horrid to my friends. It was the obvious option. Thankfully I never felt the urge to hurt the children and as they were in the car with me, I decided to drop them off at home first, and in the time that took, the urge passed and I chose not to go through with it. It did prompt me to ask for help. And I got lots of it. I don’t remember the exact details as my memories are a bit of a haze from that period, but I ended up on anti-depressants. Which I agonised about taking as I was still breastfeeding. Thankfully I was reassured enough to start taking them, although I felt so guilty.
I also had a long period of counselling. My son is six now, and I haven’t been on medication or had any counselling for several years and I manage to keep my head above water by being very aware of my feelings and taking action when my mood starts to dip by giving myself a ‘day off’ to wallow and then making sure I pick myself back up after by talking to my husband or a friend.
I write about it now to help others, it isn’t easy to make yourself vulnerable and to let people know how bad I felt, especially those that have only known me ‘well’ but I try to write the posts I wish I’d been able to read at the time. Posts that let people at the bottom of that deep, dark hole know that there is a way out, that life can be light and happy again with time and help. And also to say that getting help is nothing to be scared off. I held off from telling anyone for a long time as I had the idea that they would take my children away as I was an unfit mother. This couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Depression is like a big, blackout curtain that is thrown over you and leads you to believe there is no hope for you, no future. I want everyone to know that by lifting the corner and reaching out to someone, anyone, a GP, a partner, friend, mother, father, aunty, is instant relief. The minute I said the words ‘I can’t cope’, it was like a giant weight had been lifted off me and it was the start of my road to recovery. It may feel that there is nothing that can help you, that you feel too far gone for anything to work but you must believe me when I say that that isn’t true. There are medications and therapies and you won’t know how much better you can feel until you try.
Perhaps you’re reading and thinking that this sounds too extreme and so it must not relate to you, well PND has many forms, we all know motherhood is very very tough with young babies but I think if you have more bad days then good and life just seems a bit sad and flat with not much to look forward to, it’s worth a chat. After all, what harm can it do? We all deserve to be happy.
All the fears I had about people thinking I was a bad mother or that I didn’t love my children were completely unfounded. I thought I might sound ungrateful by saying I was sad because I know how lucky I am to have two lovely children but no-one thought that. In fact, people couldn’t have been kinder and more supportive. I was really blown away.
The antidepressants worked fairly quickly. I was able to escape the fog of horrible thoughts and start to build bridges with friends I’d pushed away. It took a long time but eventually, I started to feel happy again, it crept in slowly but surely and the good days began to outnumber the bad.
I write about it because the stigma of mental health keeps it hidden in corners, the shame makes people scared to open up, to say that they’re not ok. If more of us stand up and say that we’ve struggled as well, it becomes easier for people to talk about, more socially acceptable. That way people don’t feel like their mental health is something to try to keep hidden, they can tell their friends, go to their GP sooner without the stigma. It’s ok not to be ok. And you can get better.