This week is Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Awareness Week. I am so passionate about talking about this subject so that we slowly but surely reduce the stigma around these illnesses (because, newsflash, they are actual health problems!) and help women realise they're not alone.
I first experienced symptoms of Post natal depression (PND) and post natal anxiety when Aoife, our second baby, was about two months old. Harry was 17 months old when she was born. This was the very first blog I wrote about it.
Rather than PND, I know now that what I'm living with is anxiety. I am still on medication, something I've spoken openly about. You can read more here as well. As always, I hope this helps any of you out there suffering, and please get in touch if you like :)
"I even had thoughts of wanting to just go to sleep for ages and not waking up. Not having to deal with all the logistics... Not having to do the marathon breastfeeds and burping, toddler wrangling, nappy changes, settling, cooking, cleaning….The extent of those feelings are not normal."
I’ve always prided myself on talking about the nitty gritty of motherhood. The good, the bad and the ugly. The shit, the awesome and the highlights. Yes, the fluffy pieces about fashion or practical tips to help with day to day mum life, but mainly the stuff about feelings.
This blog started as I was going through an identity crisis when I went from my corporate life (which I was more than a little obsessed with) to being a stay at home mum - from ‘manager to mummy’. I couldn’t find anyone writing about going through that sort of transition, so I decided to write about it myself. It’s now grown into a one-stop shop for all things ‘Mum’ and I love that we cover so many topics now.
I’ve always written exactly what’s in my heart. And I’ve always been completely upfront and open about it, as scary as that is. But lately, not so much. I’ve been avoiding talking about anything really. Particularly the one thing that is the most prevalent for me.
For a while I’ve had a dark black cloud hanging over me. I’ve been stressed and anxious 24-7. Paralysed with fear. Walking around with my hands in fists. The smallest things freak me out and cause panic.
One day, on top of the world.
The next, screaming and in tears.
Having our two babes so close together is amazing and without a doubt the best thing we ever did. But we've had a really bad run since Aoife was born. Three months in and I'm shattered.
First Harry caught every daycare bug going around. Then started regular tantrums. Then started getting his molars. All together.
Aoife had reflux for months. Now her problem is bad wind at 'witching hour'.. Or should I say HOURS. Every.Single.Night. She's fine the rest of the day but still this horrible bedtime haunts us where she screams constantly. We've tried so many things. So stressed and so anxious knowing she's hurting.
So it's full on all day with a Harry and then it's full on all evening with Aoife. Zero downtime. I've fallen behind on work, emails, the housework, keeping up with friends, you name it.
I know it'll pass. I know it can't last forever. But that doesn't stop it from really really sucking.
I’ve been thinking to myself for the last month or two “I’m not coping”, “I can’t do this”. But, I thought it was just mum life and the madness of two kids 17 months apart.
Was it normal? All in my head? I should be able to cope! I was coping, I was strong. I AM strong!
Not so much. I’ve hit a huge Everest-size wall. And it turns out I’m not coping. I have been diagnosed with severe Post Natal Depression (PND).
I tell myself I shouldn’t feel like this because I have two beautiful, happy children, one amazing husband and an awesome life. I feel ungrateful and ashamed for feeling this way. but I can’t help it.
I first had a small dose of depression eight years ago, just for a few months, and it was because of a particular circumstance (an abusive relationship). Prior to that, I just didn’t get why anyone got depressed. I guess I thought they could just choose to ‘snap out of it’. Then I experienced it and realised just how wrong I was.
Like so many other mamas, I never thought PND would happen to me. I love my life. But sometimes it all gets too much. I’m completely overwhelmed.
The first month or so of two under 18 months was fine, lovely even. I was like “you’ve totally got this”.
But one evening a few weeks ago it got to the point where I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t stop crying and screaming, I couldn’t sleep or eat and I was like a robot looking after the kids.
I even had thoughts of wanting to just go to sleep for ages and not waking up. Not having to deal with all the logistcs that two under two entails anymore. Not having to do the marathon breastfeeds and burping, toddler wrangling, nappy changes, settling, cooking, cleaning….The extent of those feelings are not normal.
My husband wanted to take me straight to the hospital but I didn’t want to get the kids up. And I guess that maybe says something about why this has come on. Yes, I do WAY too much and try to do it all perfectly. Two kids under two, freelance work, this blog and running a household (with no family help close by). First and foremost, I’m all about my kids. What do THEY need. I am last on the list. I haven’t been looking after my emotional well being. I haven’t been resting or taking a backwards step at all. I’m burnt out and So.Damn.Exhausted.
I wander around like a lost puppy, not remembering why I came into a room and trying to recall what I was about to do. I don’t know what to do. I have so much on that I get overwhelmed, panic and just shut down. I second guess everything. I can’t relax. I can’t breathe. I can’t talk. I can’t function.
I’m getting treatment. I’m taking medication (after I could bring myself to actually take it - the stigma attached with that was doing my head in and I refused for a while), and seeing a psychologist. It’s helping. But I also need to take some things off my plate.
If you are going through similar, or even think you might be, I say this to you:
You might feel like you want to shut everyone out. Crawl into your shell. Not talk, not think, not feel. That's how I feel. But that's the worst thing you can do.
Talk to your partner, a doctor, a helpline, a psychologist, a nurse, a friend. Hell, talk to me (on Insta) if you like. Just do something to look after YOU. PND is so much more common than we think. I know several mamas who have been diagnosed recently. And guess what? We’re all in this together.