Sunday 6 August 2017

Health | Let's Talk Postnatal Depression

I've always had a bit of an issue with my mental health ever since I was a teenager, but it was always something I deemed manageable. There was a point in my life, which I admit, I felt I was at an all time low. I was out of work, I was living miles away from my family and I was so lonely and fed up. but I pulled through it. Then I became a mother. George was born and everything I'd ever felt before felt a million times worse. I never wanted to admit I had a problem, who does? We all like to put on a front that we're coping and when you're a first time mum that can be incredibly overwhelming. Despite having the best support team around me, that first year of George's life was extremely difficult for me. So lets talk postnatal depression. 

George came into the world on the 10th September 2014 and I was besotted, it felt like we had been awaiting him for such a long time (read about my PCOS story here). I fell in love instantly. It's true what they say, it's a love like no other. The sleepless nights and endless visitors were worth it, I was exhausted but I loved being a mum, I loved newborn snuggles and whilst I struggled to adapt to the 3 hourly feeds, it didn't last long and he was sleeping through from 8 weeks old. 

Then the anxiety crept in. I was terrified something would happen to him, to Pete or I. What would happen if we were in an accident? What would happen if we were to be bombed (crazy I know seeing as we live in one of the safest countries in the world - apparentl) but even now I get anxious when a plane flies over head. It's so irrational. I knew I was being irrational but these thoughts would creep in on a daily basis. 

There was this one day when he was about 3 months old, George just cried for 20 minutes and for the love of god I just didn't know what was wrong with him. He had me so stressed out that I left him in his pram to cry, took myself to the top of the stairs and just cried it out. I felt worthless that I couldn't console my own baby. My nan came round to visit and I just cried on her (this happens a lot, I'm emotional, what can I say? Mother, if you're reading, I blame you!) She told me not to ever think I was a bad mum because I was doing a good job and sometimes that's all you need to hear. She told me a story about a similar experience she had when my uncle was a baby and in that moment I knew I wasn't alone. 

When George was 5 months we got him christened and everything that could go wrong, went wrong. My hair was a mess, Pete lost his only pair of smart shoes, we were late for the church, the DJ did't turn up. It was a nightmare! An absolute nightmare. Absolutely nothing could have prepared me for this day, I was a mess. There was a point when Pete was queuing for the buffet and I just screamed at him in front of all our guests, something that I am still ashamed of to this day! My behaviour was out of control and I knew I had to do something about it. I've said before I don't deal with stress but this was on another level.

After a good old heart to heart with my mum (have I mentioned she's the absolute best?) I went to the doctors where I was diagnosed with PND and prescribed  antidepressants. My mood improved and I became a lot calmer over the course when I eventually came off them on my own. Not even gradually, I just decided I didn't need them anymore and came off them. 

When Henry was born, the stress came back, I was awful, I was miserable so I didn't even see a doctor, I just went straight back on my medication. Even now I notice the difference on a day when I don't take them. I'm horrible, the stress becomes too much and I get myself really worked up. I had an episode on Wednesday where I did not want to go out, Henry's flask was broken (my fault) and I couldn't do my hair properly. To some this may seem like a really silly thing to get so upset about, but this is how my brain works. If something doesn't go the way I want it to I get really anxious. In this moment, Pete just calmed me down, hugged me and helped me work it out. There was a point in our lives when he didn't really understand what I needed when I was in this mood but I think he's got it sussed, he's a good egg.

PND can manifester in a number of different ways, I thought because I had bonded with my baby that there was nothing wrong with me and I was fine. It nearly cost me my relationship. If you are suffering in any way, please get help!

Rachael xo

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