This week it’s World Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week (30th April-4th May) and I find it really coincidental that for the last two weeks I’ve really been struggling with my own mental health with those dark echoes of Post-Natal Depression (PND) knocking on the back door of my mind.
Regular readers will know, that I suffered with some form of PND in the weeks and months after my baby boy was born back in December 2016. (If you want a recap click here.) It was the most horrendous time of my life. I completely lost my sense of self. I was literally drowning, every day the water came higher and higher. I cried every single day. I spent a lot of time alone with my baby and felt completely overwhelmed and the dark, long January days closed in on me with no end in sight. My mind worked against me and everything began to feed off each other and became this perfect storm of fear, depression and anxiety.
I hit rock bottom.
But somehow, things got better little, by little. I literally clawed my way out of the water and back up to the surface again. I didn’t seek help from my GP, but with help from my family and through several other things eventually improving, I began to get better. The days got literally brighter, my baby boys silent reflux began to improve with medication, I started to feel a little more like myself and I was completely determined that no matter what happened, I would never allow myself to get that frazzled again.
My little dude is 17 months now and I think back to that dark time often, not because I enjoy it, but because my mind just takes me back there as it’s something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget or forgive myself for. But I also think about it as a reminder that I never want to go back there. When I do look back at myself then, I shudder, because things are quite different now. I feel more like myself, I’m not constantly in a state of anxiety or feel overwhelmed every moment of every day. I don’t wake up wishing I wasn’t here.
But that said and it’s a big but, I still have bad days.
For me PND is like this long shadow I can never fully outrun. It’s part of me and as much as I can manoeuvre myself to minimise it, it will always be there. Most of the time I’m fine and I get on with the daily business of being a mammy. But there are times, like the last couple of weeks, when things converge and test you to your limits. I won’t lie, I’ve found myself in a heap crying like I used to all those months ago, a few times this last week. Hidden away from the world, behind the door where the baby or my family cannot see; my mind working on overdrive, dark thoughts creeping in.
I suppose, what I’m trying to say is that, none of us, no matter how together we seem, are breezing thought this parenthood thing. It can be bloody tough at times and when your mental health is under attack to boot, it can be a crushing weight to try and bare.
Reach out, talk, be open and don’t be afraid to admit you aren’t okay, that you need a break. While weeks like World Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week are great for highlighting issues like this, unfortunately PND is not something that stays with you for merely a week and then happily buggers off. For many, it’s a lifelong struggle, but the more we talk about it and connect with each other and help each other bring it out into the open, the more we can overcome it.
As always, I am here for any mammy who feels like she needs to talk.
Moment Health are running a #CheckYourSymptomsCampaign
full of helpful information.
Information on organisations who can help if you’re feeling overwhelmed or going through feelings of post-natal depression –