I use the term Post Natal Depression to describe what I went through after my son was born in December 2016.
But you know, I was never officially diagnosed with PND. I suppose that is because I never worked up the courage to actually go to my GP, to sit down and say the words out loud ‘I’m not coping. I need help’
In truth, I don’t know if it was PND. What I do know is that I felt completely overwhelmed in those early weeks. I cried every single day for two months. The first words out of my mouth as I woke up in bed every morning, exhausted and scared were ‘oh no.’ I felt zero connection to my baby. I didn’t feel that magical bond I was told all about, it just wasn’t there. I felt as though I’d made a huge mistake that I wasn’t cut out for motherhood. I just wanted to close my eyes and go back to my old life.
When I looked in the mirror and I didn’t recognise the person looking back at me and it was terrifying. The reflection was a shell. The old me had disappeared, I’d left her behind in the delivery room and in her place stood this terrified, anxious creature, I didn’t like or know, who was slowly sinking away every day.
And every single day it got worse. I hid how I was feeling behind vacant expressions and fake smiles, only to fight back the tears I let out the moment I closed the door.
I’ve often described what I went through as being akin to drowning and it really was. Each day the water rose up that little bit more until I slipped under and sank right to the bottom.
Fear, crippling anxiety, a loss of identity, loneliness and feeling no bond with my baby all converged like a perfect storm and I saw no way out.
It was the darkest time of my life. One I never want to go back to.
Slowly, things got better. It took a long time, but two years on, I feel like a whole person again; different, but whole.
Part of that recovery has been because of talking or rather writing about my experiences online in my blog. Of sharing my story, of connecting with other mums online. Of listening, of supporting other mums, of trying to get the message out there that PND and feelings of being overwhelmed are nothing to be ashamed of.
You haven’t failed. You haven’t done anything wrong. You’re not a bad mother. None of this is your fault.
I get so many messages from new mums like myself who have gone through similar feelings and experiences and the overriding theme running through them all is that, we all felt as though we were alone. As if we were the only ones this was happening too. That there was something wrong with us, that no one else could possibly be feeling like this. That we had failed, that we were defective in some way, that we couldn’t tell anyone for fear of judgement. That everywhere we looked other mums appeared to be swimming, while we were sinking. Why is this happening to me? Why am I alone?
PND is one epic bastard of a condition. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It not only swoops in to rob you of those precious early days of motherhood, turning your natural feelings against you, making you doubt yourself at every turn, but it also tries to convince you, that you are alone.
But the truth us we are not alone.
And if you’re reading this right now, and you’re in the throes of anxiety, or feeling overwhelmed, or like you can’t do this, please know you are not alone. There is a large, loving and welcoming community of mums out there who are ready to help, listen and never judge.
Becoming a mum for the first time is hard, it’s life changing and it’s perfectly okay to struggle, to find it a challenge, to feel as though you don’t know what you’re doing or how your life will be the same again. It’s normal to take time to find your feet. To feel as though you don’t know who you are.
My journey through motherhood and with PND has taught me so much about myself but it has taught me another very important lesson and it is this – I am not alone and neither are you.
You’ll find my catalogue of blogs on PND here or simply search Post Natal Depression from the categories on the sidebar.
As always I’m here for any mum who needs to talk.
Information on organisations who can help if you’re feeling overwhelmed or going through feelings of post-natal depression –