To the Mother with PND: it’s not your fault…

Post Natal Depression (PND) is so much more prevalent than you think. You’re not alone, far from it. Panda (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia) estimates a whopping 1 in 7 new Mothers experience postnatal depression.

The adjustment from life before baby to life after is simply massive for ALL women . The readjustment is likely bigger than anything you’ve been through before and it cannot be escaped. It cannot be predicted, nor can it be anticipated or planned for.

It is only in the midst of the crazy new Motherhood storm that you can (and I repeat CAN) find the peace and calm. It just may take some time…

In my experience there was no calm in the first 14 months of my son’s life. It was long. It was arduous and in many ways life felt impossible.

Nothing really helped shake these difficult feelings and I tried a lot of strategies, including….

*Going out

*Resting lots

*Getting support

*Therapy

*Alternative therapies

And then finally…

*Hospitalisation

*Medication

It was one hell of a ride. It was dark and scary and I never thought I’d make it out in one piece….but I did, somehow. 

But it wasn’t an easy journey and there was a lot of focus and pressure placed on how I (as the Mother) needed to change and help myself, in order to change things around for us.

The power of the mind

Professionals tried to feed me some interesting ideas; ‘I had the power to change my mood and life’ and ‘it was all down to the way I viewed the situation.’

Looking back, I find this absolutely laughable now. And it wasn’t funny at the time. It just led me to feel even worse and be harder on myself; ‘why couldn’t I even get that right?’

With hindsight, though I now see…

Changing my thinking was never going change my sons consistent unhappy, unsettled self, which was highly distressing to powerlessly watch. When nothing I tried worked and the crying continued, what can you think? When he never seemed really happy, what can you think?

Blame, shame and guilt

I blamed myself, I felt ashamed of my feelings and I felt incredibly guilty.

It was clearly nothing to do with the impossible situation I had found myself in, according to ‘those in the know’…it was just because I was me, or so it felt.

I  felt if I didn’t change myself the situation would never change. I was too hard on myself. I didn’t show myself any compassion. I couldn’t see the hope for a better tomorrow, one where happiness could once again grow. I thought I’d be forever stuck in this phase of life.

So how did things change around?

Well for our little family unit (and after months of trying anything and everything), it wasn’t me that changed in the end. It hadn’t really been down to me all along, as I’d been led to believe…

What actually happened…

I’ll tell you what changed. We hit 15 months and the magic just happened. My son changed. His needs changed. His independence changed. His ability to do things for himself changed. His happiness increased massively; finally enjoying life, with daily laughter and giggles. And by God it was him changing that changed my life (and my mood)! He felt happier, I felt happier, we all felt happier!

This feeling was such a relief and a distinct contrast to what I’d been feeling for long, endless months!

Feeling hopeless and yet looking for hope

I know there are so many of you sat at home now, in that challenging (and for me damn right awful) stage. You may be asking questions similar to those I asked myself over and over; ‘Am I going to get through this?’ ‘Is it ever going to change?’ ‘Is my life ever going to be pleasurable again?.’ The answers may feel like; no, no and no. I can relate.

My reason for writing this post is because the one thing that helped me through those difficult days was HOPE. Even though everything felt hopeless, a glimmer of hope always helped. There was no light at the end of the tunnel but there was a flash light; there was a search team coming to get me. Coming to save me from myself.

That search team wasn’t a truck load of professionals, as it turned out but they were other Mum’s. Mum’s who’d been there and made it out the other side. Mum’s who were going through it and had no idea how they’d get by. All Mum’s.

Finding the light

When you’re in the midst of the darkness, you do what you have to do to get by. You try anything. You have to take what you want (whatever feels right) and leave the rest behind.

It’d worth noting that in the midst of all this there was some incredible professionals who just ‘got it.’ They were few and far between but some of their short-term strategies were priceless, I have to say. Which is why I say again: take what feels right for you and leave the rest behind. If it doesn’t feel right then it isn’t meant for you, that’s OK. We all need our individual toolboxes with the best tools to get us through. There is no one combination of tools that will help every person and the differences in what we all need can be vast.

All I can say is you will get there. It will pass. You will get to a point where life is better again. A point where the pleasure returns. You’ll breathe a sigh of relief, have a cup of tea and want to reach out and help another Mum who hasn’t quite gotten there yet.

The most important thing to take away from this is: you’re not to blame. It’s not your fault. Don’t let anyone tell you or make you feel otherwise. Show yourself plenty of compassion. Surround yourself with those that get it and distance yourself from those that don’t. You just have to find a way to get through it. It will pass and when it does you’ll feel on top of the world!

Love Cat x

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