04 May It’s Good To Talk…
This week has been all about ‘Maternal Mental Health Matters Week’. As someone who has suffered from depression, awareness of mental health issues is very close to my heart. I have not felt comfortable about sharing this before, but I think it is important to get a positive message across to others who may be going through the same emotions.
It’s so hard to try and pin point when it all began but I know the start of it was after my son was born, our second child. As soon as he was born I felt an instant bond with him and even now my husband says, ‘Your special boy.’ Don’t get me wrong I love our daughter just as much – but I didn’t bond with her as quickly. It took about 4 weeks and all I could think about was what a terrible mother I was. I had formed a tight NCT group which was a huge support network for all of us. It was so important to share stories and learn from each others because we were all new to this parenting malarkey.
I have always been known to my friends, and family, as the ‘life and soul’ of the party, the one who’s always joking around, loves going out, oozed confidence and was happy all the time.
Pretty sure if anyone of them were asked if they thought I could be depressed then it would be a resounding no! I never ever thought of myself as someone who could be “depressed.” I mean, sure, there were times like all of us when I felt a bit low, or pre-menstrual or just felt a little bit shit from having a bad day – but this was different. This was a feeling that just seemed to be getting worse and worse. I was finding it hard to get myself up and out of bed. It felt like my eyes had been stuck together with glue and my head felt like it was in a mist of fog. Every morning seemed like a battle, not just with myself, but with my family too. I would dread the morning routine of getting the kids and myself ready for work and I don’t think a day went by for weeks where I didn’t row with my husband about something. It was starting to become part of the daily routine and I know he wasn’t happy either. Amazingly he was incredibly supportive and always tried to be positive but I was finding it impossible to feel happy. The winter was kicking in, the nights were getting darker and so were my moods.
I remember feeling no love towards my daughter (who was 3) which was breaking my heart.
I could feel myself pushing her away and asked that my husband sleep in her room whilst I night fed our son. Even writing this now makes me well up because I feel so utterly guilty for feeling like this. She did nothing wrong except want her mummy’s love and attention.
I would cry every night and most days when I was alone in the house with my son and I didn’t want to see anyone.
I completely alienated myself from my friends and the thought of going to meet new mums in my area (we had just moved to a new house) made me anxious.
I felt incredibly low and would feel resentment to all those mums who didn’t have to go back to work. My confidence level was at a very low point and I would look in the mirror and see an ugly face. I was missing life.
Then the day I had been dreading very quickly arrived. Maternity leave was officially over!
About 8 weeks into, my then, job I could feel myself drowning. The long journeys, the long hours with lack of sleep. I was leaving in the dark and getting home in the dark. The kids were in a shitty mood because they were exhausted from being at nursery all day.
It felt like everyone wanted a piece of me and I was trying to please everyone but somehow all I was doing was failing. Then I finally lost it at work and broke down in floods of tears. It was what they say, ‘The straw that broke the camel’s back.’
I kept using the words ‘Failure’ and ‘I can’t cope’. I just wanted to run away from everything and curl up in a ball. I needed help. I needed to talk to someone who would not judge me and just listen. My mum said she had been waiting for me to get here and knew at some point it would all come to a head. I had been miserable too many times and this out weighed being happy so it was time to see my doctor.
Picking up the phone and making an appointment to see a doctor was the first positive step I made. Walking to the surgery was the second positive step and the third was sitting down and getting everything out.
I sobbed. I could not stop. I knew I was in the best place and the more I talked and the doctor listened – I started to feel better. It was a huge relief to get everything off my chest and tell her my fears and worries. She didn’t judge. She explained that what I was feeling was, in fact, a very common form of Reactive Depression
Hearing this made me realize that I wasn’t going mad and finally I had some answers, and choices. It was also incredibly comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one going through this.
We discussed various options to help me through it and the small changes I made have already made a big difference to be being happier. Some of the little things I did was to spend more time with my daughter. I took her out of nursery so we could spend more time together and bond with her brother. I looked into local ballet classes and we would go on a Saturday morning, just the two of us. I bought a Hula Hoop and started to exercise in the garden, reduced the wine intake, and opened up to my closest friends, and husband, about how I was feeling
I am finally in a good place and feel proud of myself for admitting something was wrong and doing something about it. We would see a doctor if we suffered headaches so why wouldn’t we go if our head was in a mess. Talking to someone has lifted a huge weight off my shoulder because I finally had an answer as to why I was feeling so low. The relationship with my children and husband are so much better and I feel like some of the fog has been lifted. I can’t wait for what life throws at me next because I will be ready.
If anyone reading this feels like they can’t cope or are deeply unhappy then please pick up the phone, you are not alone. Make that appointment with your doctor and talk it through. It’s the best thing I ever did! It will get better. I promise x