About Me

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

Monday, 21 March 2011

15 weeks

Today I am mostly feeling numb. Blah. Meh.
I know it's the result of those little white pills I swallow every morning, and I know it's part of the 'treatment', but at the moment I can't help wondering whether this is better than actually experiencing the emotions that help make me who I am.
Deciding to finally take the pills was a tough one for me. In my head, I know it's no different to taking a paracetemol for a headache, but in my heart it feels like giving in.
All the time I wasn't medicated, I could pretend this wasn't really happening. 'It's not as bad as it could be, at least I'm not on happy pills.' That sort of thing.
But after a tough few days and no decrease in the often-crippling anxiety, I knew I had to do it for the sake of my family.
I think part of the problem is that this time is different to the last time. Then, I knew I was depressed. So did everyone else. There was no question about it. So anti-depressants were a no-brainer.
Now, there are still plenty of people who have no idea. I think even those I see regularly are in the dark about what things are really like. Depression, in its traditional manner of all-consuming darkness, is not really the problem.
This time, it's the invading thoughts that I have to battle. The fear that the terrible pictures I see in my mind will become a reality. The nameless dread that 'something bad' will happen.
I know all these fears are irrational. I've been doing my best to battle them. But this is another of those occasions when my best is not good enough.
So for now, I need a helping hand from those little white pills. But other helping hands are welcome too...

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

13 weeks

Today, as I went out to deposit a stinky nappy in the bin outside for the eighth time (yes, I had counted), Miss T asked where I was going.
For a split second, I wondered myself. I knew, as did she, that I was merely opening the front door to prevent the smell spreading through the house. But as I stepped into the sunshine and saw the long road to freedom, I very nearly shut the door behind me.
Of course, I didn't. And of course, I wouldn't. But the thought of just walking away and leaving it all behind was just so tempting. No more nappies, no more wailing, no more whining. Just freedom. Peace. Space.
I know it won't always be like this. And I know today was particularly testing, with Baby D refusing to nap and Miss T in full-on strop mode.
But that feeling, that craving for something else, is why I am organising my return to work.
I know there will be raised eyebrows at my plan to work a day (or at least a half day) a week starting very soon, and to return properly in May, when Baby D will be just five months old.
But I also know that for me it is absolutely the right option.
I cannot continue like this. I cannot spend Sunday nights battling crippling surges of anxiety at the thought of another week at home alone. I cannot spend my days hoping already over-stretched friends will have a spare hour to provide that much-needed adult company and distraction from my children.
It is not fair on me and it is not fair on them. Any of them. I don't want my valued friendships to suffer because I feel disappointed they do not have more to give. I don't want my children to wonder where mummy is going when she opens the door, or to have to ask where we are going today because they know we cannot be home all day.
I don't want my identity eroded any more by days wandering through streets populated only by other nameless faces, other people with nowhere else to be.
I am a mum. But I am also a person. And I need that space to be me.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Late night thoughts...

I was directed to this earlier and I would recommend that everyone reading this reads it:


For some of you, it will be an interesting read, a moment of thought. For others, perhaps an echo of uncomfortable memories.

For me, it's a painful reminder that I may never be free of this.

I should preface the rest of this post with the fact that it is 1am, I'm listening to late-night radio and I see my therapist tomorrow so there are many thoughts competing in my head. I may not be at my most rational.

However. I didn't have to travel too far to be transported to that moment the author describes. I'm living it. I don't want to talk about it. But I don't want to be alone. I don't want to have to explain. But I want someone to know the feelings that threaten to crush me every minute of every day.

It's not just the emptiness, the awful hollowness that sees me sitting here in the early hours, knowing that I will have to deal with baby d in a few short hours, knowing that day begins for Miss T a few hours after that, but not having the energy to go upstairs and try to sleep.

It's not just the fear, the all-consuming fear that my inability to beat this will have long-term consequences for my children, and for my family. And for myself.

There's also the rage. The red, hot rage that can come from nowhere and can turn me into someone I don't recognise. Someone I have no control over. It's terrifying for me. I can only imagine how it looks to my children.

And that leads to the general unfairness of it all. Why can't I just be happy? Why can't I just enjoy what I have? I'm not living in a warzone, I have a loving family and a nice home, I have a career I love that I can return to. What is wrong with me that I let this enveloping blackness spoil everything?

Why can't I let go of my ridiculous need to be perfect?

And why does every encounter with a happy mother feel like a burning blade to my soul? They are everywhere; in the supermarket smiling sweetly as their offspring help with the weekly shop, at the school gates sharing anecdotes of their toddlers, at the only baby group I have been brave enough to attend, telling of the joy their children bring.

Don't get me wrong. I know there is light at the end of this tunnel. I know it because I've found it before. That is why this time is different to last. I know which hands to grab to pull me out of this. But I'm scared that even when I stumble out into that light I'll find it easily extinguished by moments like the one described by my fellow blogger.

No matter how quickly I overcome the blackness this time, and I believe I am heading in the right direction now, I know it will always be with me, its dark creeping fingers around my throat. I will never get back Miss T's baby days. I will never get a chance to redo these days where I've not dealt with her in the way she deserves. I can't undo the damage I've done, the moments that lead her to reject an opportunity to spend time alone with me - something that was supposed to be a treat for her and me.

I'm terrified that every day I spend finding joy in baby d's developing personality pushes me further away from her. I'm petrified that a gulf is opening between us that may soon be too wide to cross. And that if I don't find a way to beat this once and for all, that gulf will soon separate me from everyone else too.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

12 weeks

If I'd written this post on Tuesday, when it was technically due, it would have been a very different one.
But sometimes it can be worth missing a deadline - just don't tell my editor that!
Today has been a good day. Sure, there was a bit of a hitch in the middle and some frustration I could have done without, but on the whole I've been amazed at the change in my perceptions.
I'd love to report that the shift is down to a new enthusiasm for life as a mum of two, but it's much more predictable than that. There are no prizes for guessing my renewed optimism comes after a visit to my workplace.
I'm not ashamed that I had/have PND and I'm also not ashamed to say that I love my job. I worked hard for my career and I am good at what I do. There is no shame in enjoying my life out of the house. It's a balance I struggled with when I had Miss T but this time I know that time away from the children makes my time with them better.
Today I was in the office to discuss my return to work in May, and the possibility of working some days before then.
All went well and it felt so good to be me again - working Liz, a respected colleague and person in her own right.
Even better, after the meeting (and some added catching-up time), it felt good to be headed for home and my two little ones. Usually I drive homewards with a heavy heart, knowing the drudgery that awaits, but this afternoon I couldn't wait to see their little faces and to spend time chatting and cuddling.
Of course, this doesn't mean that everything in the garden (or house!) is rosy.
There are still issues, still dark days, still tears. I'm keeping a mood diary for my therapist which is an interesting experience. When I fill it in at the end of the day, when the children are sleeping peacefully, it's easy to see the positives. But if I were to complete an entry for each hour or each section of the day, I think it would paint a different story.
One of the lowest points of this week was a comment from Miss T, that the worst bit of her day was when I wouldn't read her a story because I was trying to get baby D to go to sleep. I can remember the moment clearly. He was refusing to sleep in his cot, I had already been up and downstairs seven times, and she asked if I could read to her. My answer was that I would when he was asleep. But he didn't sleep. So she didn't get her story.
The scenario was the perfect example of what I hoped to avoid, and what I dread happening. I don't want Miss T to remember moments like that. I want her to remember a childhood of love, laughter and fun.
Rationally, I know those good moments will probably outweigh the bad, but it's like a punch to hear her say that, and another reminder that I still have a long way to go.
However, today, for the first time, I could see the road I have to travel, and I believed I had the fuel to get me there.