This week is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week and as something I feel really passionate about, I wanted to share my story.
I was diagnosed with Pre-Natal Depression at 16 weeks pregnant. I didn’t even know it was a thing, to be honest.
I wanted to hide away, I was so scared. What if my baby died? What if I ate the wrong thing and killed my unborn child? It was too much responsibility; I just wanted my baby to be okay.
I cried every day. I couldn’t enjoy my pregnancy; I didn’t enjoy my pregnancy.
No one understood how I felt.
“Relax, everything will be fine” they said.
“You have nothing to be worried about” they said.
But I was so worried I suffered almost constant headaches and I became OCD about certain things.
I had to take my thyroxine at the same time every day; if I didn’t it triggered panic attacks.
If I hadn’t felt baby move I would poke, prod and go mad until he moved again.
I had to switch any light switches off three times – I have no idea why.
As soon as my little boy was pulled from my tummy on the 4th November 2014 I felt like a weight had been lifted.
To be fair – 9lb of baby and a lot of water had been lifted but I mean in the mental sense – as soon as William was born it wasn’t all down to me anymore, the burden and responsibility wasn’t just mine.
But things felt different.
When he was placed in my arms for the first time I felt nothing. I just wanted to sleep, I felt so bitter that his birth had been traumatic and I had nearly died. I couldn’t be a mum, I felt like if I couldn’t birth him naturally I shouldn’t be a mum.
The guilt and trauma of that feeling will never leave me – as I write I’m sobbing and although I know it’s okay to feel that way and quite normal for some people, I can’t shake the guilt.
The feelings got worse over the next few days, I wanted to end my life, I wanted to hurt myself, I wanted to run away.
I didn’t want to be a mother. I didn’t want my baby. We had fought for years against my infertility and we finally had our little miracle but I didn’t want him.
But people don’t tell you how much shock and trauma your body can go through during childbirth; and how hormones and shock can make you feel pretty poorly mentally.
A week after he was born all I heard was how I had the baby blues and it will pass.
I knew it wasn’t baby blues, I was pretty sure I shouldn’t feel suicidal and I took myself to see my GP, who prescribed me some anti-depressants.
She listened to me; comforted me and reassured me. I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression, and although the first year was hard, things got easier.
You may be reading this as a mum who feels like I did. Or maybe you know you just don’t feel right. You might be scared that if you talk to someone your baby will be taken away; or you will be labelled a bad mum.
My son is three this year, there was never any threat of him being taken away, no one has ever called me a bad mum, and our bond is so strong, despite everything – he is my world and I am his.
Let me tell you right here, right now – you are amazing, you are strong.
You, you clever lady, have grown a baby in your belly. You grew every little detail, every little hair, every little vein.
That in itself makes you a hero, look at your baby, look what you made.
Secondly, motherhood is hard. It’s not easy and having PND makes it one hundred times harder.
Celebrate the small things – you got out of bed this morning, you fed your baby, you are already winning when you think you have failed.
Every day you get up and get through the day you are winning, and every day you win makes you a little bit stronger.
You may not feel that way right now but one day you will look back and see how far you have come.
Talk to someone – a friend, family or a stranger, sharing your feelings will make you feel so much better.
Write a diary, or a blog – I wish I had started my blog sooner, it has been one of the best things I have done.
Be kind to yourself – have a bubble bath, meet a friend for coffee(or wine), start a new hobby – do something that makes you happy.
You are strong, you are amazing, and you will get through this. Trust me, I’ve been there.
There are many people you can talk to if you have or think you might have pre or post natal depression, I have listed a few below. Please don’t suffer in silence, you are not alone. x
PANDAS – http://www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/
Mind – https://www.mind.org.uk/
Samaritans – http://www.samaritans.org/
Mothers for Mothers – https://www.mothersformothers.co.uk/
You can find a full list of support services here, thank you to PND & Me for the list.