About Me

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

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

11 weeks...doing and feeling

My therapist is fond of saying that doing leads to feeling. The theory is that if I act like a happy mum, I'll feel like one.
It worked wonders last time, when I spent months behaving in a way that did not match how I felt inside and it's time to give it a go as I battle back up that slippery slope to sanity.
So this week I'm making a conscious effort to, well, make an effort.
That sounds a lot easier than it is. It's that old cliche - when some people encounter someone who is depressed they are tempted to tell them to pull their socks up and just get on with it.
But as anyone who has been where I am knows, it's sometimes impossible to do anything other than just exist while battling the suffocating blackness.
However, I have a few more days before I have to make a decision on medication, so I'd like to see just what I can achieve without it.
So today I attempted to wrestle control back over my own life. It worked, in parts. We had a good afternoon (thanks in part to the support of one of those friends with whom you can just be) and the evening chaos was lessened by the fact that we had dinner with my big sister and Miss T is still there, enjoying a sleepover.
The morning was less successful but we all survived. And I feel more confident about tackling the rest of the week because of it.
Of course, this doesn't mean that I feel in control. Anything but. Anxiety is the latest old friend to rear its head and it's not a welcome addition.
My churning emotions are not conducive to behaving in a calm and in-control manner but for the sake of my family I have to keep trying.
So even though I feel like hiding away in the safety of my home, I'll be out and about with a smile on my face taking part in fun family activities.
At least it's a step closer to becoming the person I want to be.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

This is not me...

I write for a living - in fact, it could be said that I live to write, so why can't I find the words to express how I feel?
It is yet another change in me that means I can't recognise the person I am becoming. I wish I could explain to those I am meeting for the first time how different this me is to the real one.
I do not hide in the shower hoping everyone will go out before I have to emerge. I am downstairs, in the thick of the action, organising a fun family outing.
I do not panic over the simple task of completing a supermarket shop with one baby in tow. I have managed that solo with two children and dealt with many more stressful situations in my working life.
I am not angry, bitter, overwhelmed by rage. In fact, I can't be bothered to be angry. I'm so rubbish at it I often forget what made me cross.
I do not spend time every day in tears. I am a happy, calm and relaxed person.
I do not depend on other people to help me deal with my own children. I am confident and independent and have arranged many solo outings.
I do not snap at my daughter just for being her. I love her funny ways and her constant chat.
I do not want to hide away because I don't know what to say to people. I am sociable and fun and love nothing more than giggly girlie nights out - not deep emotional sessions.
Lately I have been all of these things. And more. This is not me. This is what PND has done to me. And I hate it.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Ten weeks...

I was asked this week what I had to look forward to.
And I'm ashamed to say the only thing I could think of was returning to work.
As I sit here now, with both children sleeping soundly upstairs, of course I can see that there are plenty of positives around, from nights out with friends to fun times with both of them and spring just around the corner.
But at the time, as I thought of the future, I could only see days and days of darkness.
It was - and still is - a terrifying prospect, particularly as my mind is still battling to bury some of the old thoughts that have resurfaced.
I'm not alone in that quest, and this week's therapy appointment equipped me with some new tools to tackle them.
It also gave me a renewed sense of hope, although that's easy to achieve in a week when Mark's on earlies so my solo shift ends at 3pm and I'm not alone for the dreaded dinner-bath-bed battles.
That optimism was fuelled by the publication of the story of my first battle with PND in a health magazine, with a link to this blog.
It prompted a flurry of much-welcome support from people who had been previously unaware of my history, although I'm still deafened by the silence from some quarters.
The timing was nice as it was written before the onset of this episode and it served as a reminder that I have recovered before and I will do so again.
But there are many bridges to cross before then, and some of them feel particularly unstable, with the swirling water too close for comfort.
I'm still unsettled by the urge to return to the bad old self-harming days - it's something I thought I'd left behind years ago and it has no part in the life I have now, along with many of the issues that led to it back then.
But after a bad day, when I have not been able to deal with situations in the way I want to, it surfaces along with a little voice that tells me I deserve to be punished for being so utterly useless.
"You disgust me," it says. "Good mums don't lose control. Good mums don't fail."
I am seeing increasing evidence that actually, I'm doing okay - Miss T is always at preschool on time, even when I'm on solo school run duty, and we're all washed, fed and dressed before setting off; both kids are bathed most nights; we're working on her food issues and other attention-seeking behaviours.
But that can all be wiped out by throwaway comments like: "Having two children is easy when one is four and the other is a baby...", which I heard recently.
However. I can honestly say that I am doing the best I can, every second of every day.
And with the right support, and a sprinkling of sunshine, I will get there in the end. Starting with surviving next week's combination of half term and a late shift.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Nine weeks....and darkness descends

I have been surprised by the speed of my mental decline.
Since I opened the floodgates with the last post, and the events leading up to it, things have gone decidedly wonky.
The thoughts are back.
I wasn't going to go into them, but for the sake of honesty, I will detail a few of them.
There is a family portrait taken before baby D that is one of my favourites. It's of the three of us, with Miss T holding onto her daddy and laughing at me.
Before all this, it was a happy family shot, but lately I see her sending a clear message of where she feels safest, and with whom.
And when the health visitor says Baby D's weight gain has slowed and his line on the chart has dropped, I hear: "You're a rubbish mum."
When Miss T's teachers say she is having some issues at preschool, I hear: "You're a rubbish mum."
And when no one responds or is available to respond when I finally issue a plea for help, I hear: "We're bored of your woe."
As I listen to my tears plopping onto my pillow, I can't help but wonder what sound dark red blood would make if I released it from my arm. If I still had the sharp razor blades I used to use, I'm convinced I would have tried it by now. Do they even sell them any more? At this point, I don't want to find out.
At the moment I don't feel part of the real world. I can see it, and I can see that it is me who is wonky, not others.
But even if I scream at the top of my voice that wonky part of my brain does not listen to the reason I still possess. And no one else can hear. It's as if the rational me is sinking underwater in front of everyone but somehow they can't see. And if that part drowns, what is left?
Before anyone starts hunting for a number for the men in white coats, fret not. Help is on its way. I have a doctor's appointment for Thursday, and am trying to squeeze in another therapy session soon.
There are lifejackets. I just have to work out how to reach them.
But in the meantime I need places to go where it's okay to be sad and where someone will distract Miss T while those tears go plop as they land.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Eight weeks plus...

So two weeks ago there was light in the darkness and a fighting spirit.
But two weeks is a long time - it's a quarter of baby d's life.
And I'm sorry to say those spirits are weakening.
Part of the reason this post is late is that I did not want to have to write it. I didn't want to admit to myself the truth I have known for a while.
I have brushed aside the hours I have spent quietly sobbing to myself while Miss T is at school, or in bed, as just a bad day or the results of sleep deprivation.
I have crushed the feelings of failure, ignored the self-loathing, and stepped back from the rising tide of anxiety.
But today I am finally admitting to myself - and indirectly, in this post, to others - that it's time to ask for help.
What form that help will take I'm not entirely sure. I know I don't want to start popping pills again, but I also know that decision may not be a rational one.
But perhaps rearranging my next therapy appointment for sooner than the beginning of March would be a good start, or visiting the GP for an honest conversation, or even braving the health visitor again.
I'm sure I don't have to spell out to you, lovely readers, the disappointment I feel as I write those words. In myself, mostly.
I feel I have let myself down in succumbing once more after all the work I put in to fight this. I feel I have let baby D down in failing to give him a PND-free start to life.
I feel I have let Mark down in not being able to give him the sane wife who copes calmly with family life that he deserves.
And most of all I feel I have let Miss T down in replacing the in-control, fun mummy with an emotional wreck who can't give her the stability she so desperately needs.
I wrote some time ago that I felt Baby D was my chance to do this "right". And it's hard for me to accept that history is repeating itself.
Of course, this time it is different in some ways. Part of the reason it is taken so long to admit I am losing the fight is that it feels so different to last time. I can bear to spend time with Baby D. In fact, I enjoy doing so. I do get out of bed each day - but mostly because I have no other choice. I do still have some days where the sun shines.
But I know in my heart it's not right. I know it's not normal to dread going home if it means I will be alone with both children. I know it's not a good sign that very few days pass without tears. I recognise that the thoughts creeping into my head that stop me from sleeping need to be tackled. For the sake of my family, if not myself.
I know all these things can be dealt with. I've travelled this road before.
But I hope this time the journey will be quicker and perhaps less bumpy.