Postnatal depression sucks. It’s absolutely the cruellest side-effect of having a baby. It can make a mother not want her baby and sometimes not want to live anymore.
I was diagnosed with depression when I was 17, after a series of breakdowns. I didn’t have a good childhood, and looking back I was depressed from a very young age. I used to cry almost every day, I never wanted to leave my room and I often couldn’t get to sleep until 2 or 3 in the morning. I remember being confused as I didn’t know why I felt sad all the time. My mother left when I was 7 and I was emotionally abused by other family members. My mother came back when I was 12 and I went to live with her but she constantly treated me like an inconvenience. I started going out with my first boyfriend on my 14th birthday and we were together for 5 years, but a few years in the relationship became physically and emotionally abusive. I hit rock bottom just before my A Levels and was totally ready to move away to have a clean break. I went to University and met Katy, and she helped me recover. Then after we got married it hit me again. I had to take a lot of time off work and I had psychotherapy for 18 months. I got a lot better and things stabilised completely. I became pregnant with George, got hyperemesis and the depression came back. This time it was worse because I didn’t just have me to think about. I felt like my recovery was time limited as George was on his way. But thankfully because I was so sick I wasn’t working much anyway so I did just take the time I needed to sort myself out. I kept being told at my antenatal appointments that I was at risk of postnatal depression, but I thought that as I was already on medication and I knew the signs, I was safe.
That’s the biggest load of crap ever. It hit me like a ton of bricks about an hour after I gave birth. Just this huge wave of sadness, apathy and almost disappointment. I felt completely traumatised from the birth and I cried for hours. I wondered why I wasn’t ecstatic about this little baby I had next to me. It carried on, day after day after day. I knew it wasn’t “baby blues” pretty quickly. I spent so many hours crying. I just thought that after my horrendous pregnancy and birth, I might get a bit of a break. But clearly I’m being seriously tested. Because this is so much worse than it ever has been. I can’t just take the time I need to recover. Every day is a constant battle with a needy baby who needs play all the time. It’s fun on a good day, but completely exhausting even then.
Right now I’m curled up on the sofa in tears, thinking it’s all just too much. I can’t cope with the fact that my body seems to have gone into fat-storing overdrive since the sickness stopped and I’ve gained 3 stone since having George. That’s right, 3 stone in 4 months. I’ve never been so ashamed. I have terrible cravings like I’ve never experienced before, I didn’t have any in pregnancy but that’s the time you can get away with it! No one tells you about breastfeeding cravings. This must be what people feel like when they’re addicted to drugs or smoking. I just don’t feel like me when it hits me. When I see other new mums who seem to be doing so well I can’t help being insanely jealous. Why does she look like that but I look like this? Why did she get such a lovely natural birth and I got mine? Why can her baby breastfeed and mine can’t? Why am I being put through so many things at once?
No one talks about post natal depression. I think it’s so important to raise awareness of the struggles we experience. Who knows, maybe lots of you other mums are having similar struggles, but keeping them well hidden. Wouldn’t it ease the burden just a bit if we opened up to each other about it?