Today’s guest post in support of Postnatal Depression Awareness Week is written by Emma Poster.
Post-natal depression and me
I can still remember the day clearly. Evie was coming up to six weeks old, and my Health Visitor had just arrived for our six-week post-natal check. We went through the usual “how is your caesarean section scar healing?”, “any problems with feeding?”, “have you thought about contraception?”, and so on.
Then, though, we went on to talk about how I was feeling.
It was part of the NHS’ screening for post-natal depression programme, and it was filling me with dread.
The Health Visitor explained that she was going to ask me a series of questions, and she would then score my answers to determine whether I may be suffering from post-natal depression.
I already knew what the score would say.
I’d found those first six weeks incredibly hard.
If I’m being completely honest, I’d found the late half of my pregnancy a struggle emotionally, too.
I lost count of the number of times I cried each day. I really felt like I wasn’t coping, and I was having more and more thoughts about harming myself.
I loved my beautiful baby, Evie, of course I did.
But, I wasn’t enjoying being a mummy back then.
Please select the answer that comes closest to how you feel
Although, deep down, I already knew that I as suffering with post-natal depression, I had no idea how to talk to anybody about it.
Was I just supposed to blurt it out?
What would people think?!
It was only when the Health Visitor started asking me direct questions that I felt I could start to admit how I was feeling. She asked me how often things had been getting on top of me.
Most of the time.
In fact, I felt like I wasn’t coping at all.
How often had I felt scared or panicky for no good reason?
Having somebody ask me these questions, and asking me to pick the most suitable response, it was exactly what I needed.
The Survey Says …
It came as no huge surprise that my answers suggested I was suffering from post-natal depression.
My Health Visitor phoned my doctors surgery on my behalf, and booked me an appointment for later that day.
The diagnosis was confirmed then, and I was put on some medication to help alleviate some of the symptoms.
It took a while for the tablets to start working, but I instantly felt a little better after admitting to somebody how I had been feeling.
It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
The months that followed were hard, but I gradually started to feel like things were getting easier.
Alongside the medication, I made other changes.
Not easy when you have a new-born, I know, but so vitally important.
I also started being more honest with other mummies. Up until that point, I’d found that all the mummies I met at baby groups would tell me how much they were enjoying parenthood, and how wonderful everything was.
I, of course, smiled and nodded along.
Once I admitted, though, that I was struggling, and didn’t have a bloody clue what I was doing, everybody else started opening up more too.
It was so refreshing to learn that I wasn’t the only one who had no idea how to get their little darling to sleep in their cot.
I wasn’t the only one who sometimes struggled to get dressed until gone midday, if at all.
I wasn’t the only one who struggling to enjoy the first few weeks of parenthood. Phew!
Fast forward a year
Evie is now thirteen months. I’m not quite sure how that has happened, but the big black circles under my eyes seem to confirm it.
I’ve seen my GP regularly about my post-natal depression over the last year, and together we have agreed to start reducing the dosage of my medication.
In hindsight, I was probably a bit too eager to do this, and ended up taking things too quickly.
I started to feel like I was struggling again, so I increased the dosage slightly, again with the advice from my GP.
I wouldn’t say I feel more like ‘the old me’ as I am pretty sure the old me wouldn’t be routinely sniffing another human being’s bottom to see if they had ‘gone’, and wouldn’t – usually – be singing silly songs and blowing raspberries as they graced the aisles of the supermarket.
I do, though, feel much better.
Yes, I still doubt my parenting skills regularly.
After all, little humans don’t come with a manual, and I becoming quite a pro at ‘winging it’.
I am, though, enjoying being a mummy much more than I was.
I feel I am coping much better.
I finally feel that I am beating post-natal depression.
Thank you to Emma for sharing her story.
If you’ve read this post today and feel that it relates to what you’re currently experiencing – please- don’t suffer in silence.
There is help and support out there.
Love Missuswolf xxx
Images from PANDAS and UnSplash