About Me

Kent, United Kingdom
I have the perfect family but still struggle to find the light in the darkness of post-natal depression.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Six weeks...

Apologies this post is late - such is life with baby D and Miss T. Sometimes things get in the way.
This week, real life has pushed its way into our baby bubble with a vengeance. Some of it good (a work function that gave me valuable time to remember what it is that makes me more than just a mum) and some of it bad.
I heard this week that a former colleague commited suicide in the most awful way. I can't claim her as a friend and I have no knowledge of what was going on in her life, but have since learned she suffered with depression and it all just became too much.
I can't articulate how sad that makes me feel. Sad that I didn't know she felt such pain and couldn't offer to help. Sad that she believed there was no other way. Sad that her family and friends are left so bewildered and lost.
But I'm also angry. Angry that this blackness is so hard to fight and that sometimes it wins. It sounds trite but it makes me more determined to keep on fighting - I don't want to get sucked so far down I can see no way back up.
So what of my life?
Well, six weeks is supposed to be a magical milestone when the sunshine returns and all's well with the world.
It's not quite like that here. But there are chinks of light in the clouds!
The official verdict from my therapist and the health visitor is borderline mentalness - I suppose it's good they both agree!
There are good days, and there are bad days. Lately bad days but I think that's related to the above.
And the mad list?
Here is is in case you'd forgotten...
) Reluctance to be alone with the baby
2) Avoiding interaction with the baby
3) Auditory hallucinations
4) Not getting out of bed
5) Excessive crying
6) Obsession with perfection in other areas, eg housework
7) Obsession with being seen as superwoman, ie not failing at anything
8) The thoughts...I don't know how else to describe them. Imagining bad things happening...
9) Reliance on others for activities, ie packed diary of social events and feeling of disaster if any are cancelled
10) Denial of change in circumstances, ie "I'm still me,this baby isn't relevant...", annoyance with people's insistence on discussing it...

It's looking better than I feared. There have been tears, but there has been sadness and I think that's okay. At least I'm acknowledging it.
I can confidently say there is no perfection in my housework, and baby D and I have plenty of interaction.
Problem areas? I still hate to fail - I hate if he cries and I can't fix it or if Miss T is struggling with something because it feels like a reflection of my parenting skills.
And I'm definitely relying on my lovely friends and family to keep me floating near the surface and I'm lucky so many of them are playing their part in this. Some are still missing and others are just not worth talking or thinking about. If they reappear once this is over I'm afraid they will get a very cool reception. I can't help but feel angry at the way some have acted.
And number 8. One of the scariest. I have to confess there have been some of those thoughts. I'm not ready to discuss them just yet. But I know they are there. I have so far been able to deflect them thanks to the work I've been doing to prepare for them and I hope that continues.
One thing my colleague's untimely death has brought home to me is the importance of asking for help if you want it - after some encouragement I have been doing so and in the main people have responded. I know there are those who believe I should keep it all hidden and paint on a happy face but that just doesn't work for me.
It relates to what I have ranted about in previous posts. I am not ashamed that this is happening to me and I'm not ashamed to talk about it.
But that doesn't mean I'll spill all for entertainment or to give certain people something to be related later over dinner...if you didn't care enough to be there when I needed it, don't expect to be told now.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Something else a bit different....

I wanted to do this a while ago, but life got in the way. Better late than never...

To my beautiful daughter,

You have dealt with a lot in your four short years with our family, from a mummy who didn't know how to love you to the arrival of your baby brother. But you haven't let it faze you and I'm so proud of the person you are becoming.
Your cheeky grin brightens even the darkest days, and you'll never know how important that is to me. And when your face lights up and you rush over as I walk in the door I'm always glad I came home.
We waited a long time before deciding to expand our family partly because we were worried about the effect it might have on you. We've had such fun in the last year and I had to be sure it was worth risking that to give you a brother or a sister.
I hope, in time, you'll agree that it was. I didn't always get on with my sisters when we all lived together but now they are some of the most important people in my life. I hope you and Daniel will experience the same thing. Maybe with a bit less fighting in between...
I know it feels like the fun has been on hold lately, but I promise it won't always be this way. We'll still have our special times together and they'll be even more precious as your brother grows and inflicts boyness on our household.
I promise to always make time for you and your pinkness, and to use the dreaded "in a minute" phrase as little as possible.
I promise to do my best to make sure he leaves your shoe collection, hair pretties and other special things alone, and to spare you from football and dinosaurs - unless you want to join in with him.
You've taught me all I know about being a parent, and I'm doing the best job I can for you. I know I get it wrong sometimes but I do try to learn from my mistakes and to make decisions with your welfare in mind, even though you may not always agree.
I know we'll have more clashes as you grow, and I remember how traumatic those teenage years can be. But I also know that our relationship is strong enough to weather those storms.
I promise to always hear what you say and I promise you will always be my best girl. Forever.
All my love,

Five weeks..

Another premature update, but hey, at least it's an update!
I've survived another week. Believe me, that's an achievement in itself.
Other achievements? Both kids are still alive, have been regularly fed and dressed in relatively clean clothes.
I got everyone out of the house on time last week for the school run, and was only late picking Miss T up once.
We've had some days without tears (from me, at least - I don't think either child has yet managed that milestone...) and we've had some fun times.
Less positive aspects? I've lost control a few times and really shouted at Tasha, I've had times when baby D and I have been out and I just haven't wanted to go home, and there was one memorable moment when Natasha ended up fetching me tissues and giving me hugs when it all got too much. That's not how I want her life to be.
I've also seen my lovely therapist who put some things in perspective. After seeing her I did feel a lot more positive - the general conclusion was that I'm not yet mad, but on the cusp of it. However she feels that with the right intervention we may yet be able to avoid the dark side.
She insists that it's good to show extremes of emotion to Miss T and I can see her point, which is that it is part of life, but it's hard for me to accept that. It's just not the way I'm used to.
So the edge of the cliff is starting to look a bit further away - on some days at least.
I continue to be surprised by how amazing some people can be, and how oblivious others are. I've tried to ask for help - and could not have predicted those who responded - but maybe I wasn't clear enough. I do know that I need it. Those days where I can get out of the house and meet people are so much easier to bear than the ones where I'm home and the combination of four walls and two children is almost too much.
Having said that, today I was alone with both of them all afternoon and we all just about survived. The only meltdown was over dinner which is nothing unusual at the moment and I managed not to react. It was a close-run thing but I managed it.
Tomorrow we also have no plans and I won't pretend that's not scary. I'm hoping some of my requests for assistance will pay off but if not I'll do my best and that will have to do. I have no more to give.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Four weeks...

Tomrrow is the four week milestone, but the laptop is powered up today so it seemed as good a time as any.
I'm not sure what kind of post this will be, so apologies in advance. I've started writing it in my head several times over the last few days and it changes depending on what sort of day it's been. I've decided just to let my fingers do their thing and see what comes out.
So there have been more bad days. Some good ones too but they can have bad moments as well. On a really bad day it feels like I'm losing my mind; like it's disappearing piece by piece over the edge into the abyss. And if I peer over after it what I see is so terrifying I can't even think about trying to retrieve it.
On a normal bad day, it feels like everything is just too much effort. Even getting off the sofa.
But on a good day, when one child is asleep and I can spend quality time with the other one, I'm not sure what the drama is about.
Mark is back at work next week - tomorrow in fact - so that will present a whole new challenge. I have a lot lined up to keep us busy with lovely friends playing their part with play dates and evenings in.
I do still feel disappointed in others who have been less helpful. Or less present. Or who seem to be able to make the effort for others but not me. Perhaps it's the old mental illness stigma, perhaps it's that it's just more fun to visit someone more cheerful and less mad. Or perhaps I'm just paranoid.
It has been suggested that I ask for help from them, and others, and see what happens. I'm tempted to do so as a social experiment if nothing else - watch this space.
Baby d is stirring so my time here is up for now. But I'll leave with an important (to me at least!) reminder. I know most of you lovely readers are here because you care or because you are interested in the PND experience. But I also know (thanks to Google analytics!) that there are some here for other reasons.
I don't care if this is emailed around the office as a good laugh ("see what that mad cow is up to now"). I started this blog all those years ago with the declaration that I was not ashamed. And it's still true. I may be on the road to happy pill heaven again but I'm not ashamed of it. So I will continue to be honest here for the sake of those who need help staying strong - and for myself.