In which I open up about something extremely personal. Not many jokes. Very important message.
So, as it’s mental health awareness day, I feel I should pitch my hat into the ring with a tale of post-natal depression, anxiety and intrusive thoughts.
I thought I would recognise all the signs, having been through depression before. I thought I’d be on my guard for it and spot it before it took hold.
I struggled and struggled and struggled. I believed that Monty would be better off with anyone else. ANYONE. I had horrible fears that I would hurt him (I didn’t) or abandon him (I didn’t). I felt like I was failing. All. The. Time. I saw the doctor repeatedly because I was utterly CONVINCED my body was wrecked. It wasn’t.
I didn’t get treatment. I didn’t know I needed it. I thought I was just a shit mum.
But there’s two things I would say to anyone who’s going through what I went through:
- Please – get help. You’re not failing. Being a new mum is hard, yes, but if you’re feeling the way I was feeling, if you’re feeling that extreme, it’s probably also chemical. You’re not ‘not coping’ where everyone else is, you’re ill. If you got tonsillitis you wouldn’t think twice about seeing a doctor. You would never blame yourself. Get help. It is NOT YOUR FAULT.
- It gets better. I promise. Just please, please hang in there. Sure, I still have my moments. Some guilt. Some regret. But it’s nothing like it was. I’m fine. And – importantly – my relationship with Monty is beautiful. I haven’t ruined anything by having PND (I thought I had). He loves me (I thought he wouldn’t). He’s fine. Better than fine. He’s wonderful (I thought I might be exactly the kind of mother Philip Larkin warned you about).
You are enough. And if you’re feeling this way for god’s sake speak to someone. Call a friend, your doctor, SANE, The Samaritans or Mind (no 24hr helpline, but an online tool if you need urgent help).
Or if that’s too much right now, you can always start with me. I’m here.