1 in 10 women experience postnatal depression within one year of giving birth.
I am one of those women.
The 'baby blues' dragged on and eventually I was diagnosed with PND.
In my particular case all health care professionals involved went above and beyond to care for me, although I know this is not always the experience other women have.
Postnatal depression comes in many forms and some women experience it more severely than others - that is not to undermine the hardship that all women go through.
For me, it wasn't a struggle to bond with my baby. Despite him being a particularly unsettled baby with various medical problems, I was very much in love with him. My feelings were mostly about myself. I was engulfed in a sea of self loathing, guilt and feelings of failure.
I spent most of my days hysterically crying. My nervous system was so sensitive that I felt as though my skin was red raw, I didn't want to be touched.
I had a two year old to care for as well as a new baby. It was my oldest that I felt the most guilt about. I was a shell of the mummy I had been and a far cry from the mummy she deserved.
I also took my anger out on my husband and regularly had breakdowns on him. He coped with it all amazingly well, supported me and stood by me waiting for me to get better.
At times I would feel an intense anger at the smallest of things. Anger that a drink had been spilled or that there was too much noise. I had learnt to collect myself long enough to leave the room and take my anger out on myself. I would hit myself with whatever I could find, sometimes just slapping myself in the face. It was like a reset button - I would feel a huge relief and then a wave of shame would sweep over me. What was wrong with me?
For a time I became obsessed with my weight - I hated myself so much that I refused to see people until I had lost weight. I yo-yo dieted and manically exercised for weeks at a time before collapsing under the pressure I was shouldering. Truthfully, this is still a work in progress for me.
From about three months postpartum I was taking anti-depressants. They made a huge difference - I actually felt like myself again at times. But it did take a while to get my medication right. One type made me very nauseous, another made me feel so numb that I couldn't feel anything. My dosage was upped and decreased depending on how well I was coping.
After a year or so I started attending CBT sessions. I went into them very cynical, defeated by the PND and at a point where I couldn't see an end to my pain.
However, CBT freed me. During my sessions I discovered a new way of thinking, of seeing things and I was relieved of so much baggage that had been burying me for so long.
My journey of depression hasn't ended yet. I am managing it with medication still. I know I still need my antidepressants but am often plagued with shame for still relying on them and fear that I will never survive without them.
I am a mother of two, I lead a normal life, I take the dog for a walk and have play dates with my children.
I am a wife, I argue with my husband, I kiss my husband, I go on dates with him (occasionally) and I am in love.
I also have a depression. I sometimes struggle to face the day, I ignore texts and phone calls if I'm having a bad day, I decline meetups when I'm feeling overwhelmed , I cry and sometimes the feelings of self loathing resurface.
One day I will beat my depression, for now I am surviving it.
One in 10 women experience postnatal depression - it's time to talk about it.Suggest a correction