I wanted to write about something quite serious which affects up to 21% of new mothers, and which is still a 'hidden' part of motherhood; unspoken in mothers groups, often left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and surrounded by feelings of guilt and loneliness by mothers.
It's PND. Post Natal Depression.
I've struggled with this for a year, only recently seeking help which I should have sought a year ago, but was too stubborn, stoic or stupid to do at the time. It wasn't until I could cry no more tears and felt like a zombi walking through the world that I decided enough was enough.
Today I started a therapy group. 14 women, all going through the same thing. All scared. All anxious. All gratefull for support and the knowing nods of the others around them. All of us still trying to hold it together. All of us wondering whether we should be taking medication, or not. And all of us wishing the world understood us without the need for us to scream.
It should have been a really positive day, enlightening or somehow cathartic. But I'm shattered. The enormity of it all has hit home. The unrelenting strain of appearing OK, just to get through the day. The sheer loneliness of it all. And the mammoth task, so it seems, of getting back on track and getting well. I've never felt more alone than I do now.
I've carried so much guilt around about Max's birth, and breastfeeding, both of which weren't how I 'planned'. I'm dealing with that now, and feel more pragmatic about those outcomes, but I still have my 'what if I'd done things differently' days. I am extremely good at self blame. Now I just seem to have a paranoia about everything. I blame myself for everything, irrespective of logic or reason. There are days I feel I could explode with the pressure I put on myself and the anxiety of feeling so vulnerable.
And when the loneliness subsides a little, I am swept away with exhaustion which bores right through me. If I could sleep and sleep and sleep I might feel better, but the reality still comes back the next day.
I love my child completely. He is an angel. And one day he'll see his mother for who she really is. And I hope that day will be one day soon. If you've read this far, thankyou for listening. If you think you know someone with PND, reach out and help them, talk to them, ask them to talk back, and be there for them.