Post natal depression is a mental illness that new mums suffer with in the months after having there babies. I’m going to explain what it was like for me, the signs and the symptoms and maybe some of you can relate.
I gave birth to Alfie, on the 27th April 2013, he was 10 days late and I kind of decided that he wasn’t going to come out at all. But eventually my contractions started, he was a monkey and I ended up with an emergency section. It was all quite a traumatic experience, I wasn’t well afterwards at all. I had an infection and I had to go for lots of tests and x-rays to determine why I wasn’t well. All tests came back showing nothing so after 5days I went home with my baby and my boyfriend.
At first, I wasn’t sure what to do with a baby. I had never even held a baby, let alone change nappies and make bottles and so on. I soon slipped into motherhood and I was very happy and proud and wanted to show him off to everyone. I was very protective over him and I would constantly sit cuddling him and watching him. I was abit uncomfortable with people apart from his dad cuddling him and looking after him. Lots of people offered help and I declined. He was my baby? Did they think I needed help? Do I look like I’m not coping? Looking back, they were just being nice and trying to help out as I do for my friends but I would look at the negative side and assume they thought I didn’t know what I was doing.
We stayed in a lot, and rarely went out to see family and friends. He was my baby, I was looking after him. I put loads of pressure on myself trying to be a perfect mother that I was stressing myself out over it. When people would come round I wouldn’t let go of alfie and people had to ask for cuddles. I was apprehensive but of course I didn’t say no. It was a big thing for me allowing others to be with him apart from his daddy.
I wasn’t unhappy but i wasn’t happy either, I was kind of in the middle of the two. Just getting on with it. As soon as alfies dad would get home from work I would give him alfie and I would go do the housework, and I wouldn’t go to bed past midnight then be up at 7ish. As the time went on it was getting increasingly difficult, I would count down the minutes until nap time and I couldn’t function if I didn’t have a nap with him in the morning. It was all in my head I know that but it’s how I dealt with it.
I think Alfies daddy was a bit confused with everything, one minute I would be shouting at him to help me out and the next I would be shouting at him to go away and leave me to it. I wanted him close to me but then I wanted to be on my own. It was odd, and I don’t think he knew weather he was coming or going really.
It was like this for months and months, I couldn’t sleep, I wasn’t happy but I was a new mum. It was normal right?
Well.. No. It wasn’t. Eventually, I began to get physical pains like everywhere. I had constant headaches, my eyes hurt, I had a lump in my throat that would stop me eating, I had pains in my arms, fingers, wrists, boobs, chest, tummy, genital area, thighs, knees, feet and toes so basically EVERYWHERE. I did not feel well at all, I convinced myself I was dying (yes, seriously.)
I was backwards and forwards to the doctors for a couple of months with the various different pains, they gave me paracetamol and ibuprofen. I remember one doctor asking me how I felt mentally and I said fine.. And that was it. He told me that I was fine physically and it was maybe just a virus. Alfie had one the week before so that’s a logical explanation. I went to the doctors the week after and I saw a lovely doctor who was actually the ‘family’ doctor. She was easy to talk to and she read out all the physical things I had gone for recently and explained that it wasn’t really normal to be going that often.. I felt stupid but she made me feel at ease and asked me if I was happy and I said… Fine, then burst out crying. She had spotted the signs and she could tell by looking at me that I wasn’t happy and looking at my records she knew it was to do with PND. She explained what it was and that I would need extra support in the next few weeks as the tablets may bring out the mental side of the illness where I had only really suffered with the physical.
I went to see my boyfriend the day I got my tablets and I told him I needed to go back to my dads for abit as I didn’t trust myself to be around alfie on my own. I wanted to run away various times and I didn’t want to put my baby at risk of ANYTHING. so it was my only option. He wasn’t very supportive and we broke up.. He thought i had left him and took his son away from him. I did yes but not in that way. He didn’t understand what I was going through, I didn’t understand either so who can blame him.
The first few weeks of the tablets were HELL, without going into too much detail; the thoughts of suicide were in the front of my mind before anything else. I couldn’t cope, I wanted the physical symptoms back. I would rather die than think like I was. I felt like I needed to be in a mental hospital, the way I was thinking. I didn’t feel anyone was around me was safe. I hated it. I remember going clothes shopping with my sister and I said to her, ‘there’s no point me looking at anything because I won’t be here to wear them soon’. I know it’s upsetting but that was the side effects of my tablets. Eventually, they started to work and I could be the mum I’ve always wanted to be. More patient, happy and actually fell in love with my son again.
It’s an ongoing battle but it’s possible to overcome it. I was happier eventually and was going to stop taking my tablets, it didn’t work for me so I had to go back onto taking my tablets daily again but that’s ok.
It’s not a race, it takes time but keep reaching out and it’ll soon become closer.