THE BLOG

A Letter to My Friend With Post Natal Depression

25/06/2014 14:50 BST | Updated 24/08/2014 10:59 BST

My dear friend,

You're going through a really rough patch, I can see it in your eyes. As a newly-minted Mum, you're still rocked to the core by the brutality of a difficult birth. You still feel like you are watching it over and over again as a third person, suspended from the ceiling in the delivery suite, no longer an active participant in the choices that may affect you for years.

I can see that your whole experience of giving birth and these early months with your delightful baby girl have been colored by what you went through. It's slowly leeching into your memories and it's poisoning the joy and ecstasy of new parenthood that is rightfully yours. My dear friend, I am here to throw you a line if you are drowning.

I can see how painful it has all been for you. The redness of your eyes and the shake in your voice. But even though it seems impossible to believe, things will get better. It's time now to take hold of those bad memories that have taken root like weeds, rip them out and plant over them with new memories.

It's time to rug up, get outside as much as you can and walk in the weak winter sunshine. Introduce your bub to the world and the world to her. It's time to lift your chin up into the onshore wind, icy, salty and bracing, fill your lungs and scream or laugh at the waves if it helps.

I will join your chorus if you need me to. I have sung this song before and know it by heart.

I am here to catch you if you fall, just like I was caught.

To your daughter, you are the world and all its jewels. You don't know this yet. You feel that you are not brave enough. Not good enough. Not mum enough. Don't fall for the trap of choosing and wearing a label. Bad mum. Good mum. Stay at home mum. Working mum. Proud mum. Neglectful mum. Forgetful mum. Funny thing is, we are all of those thing - and none of those things - depending on what particular second in time it is on any given day.

Know this: You are more than enough for your daughter. You are her everything.

And if you feel like you are starting to fall, I am here.

I can still feel myself falling from time to time too, but not as often these days. I know looking from the outside you might think I've got it all together but you know, like all of us, I only ever paste the good stuff on Facebook. The cake I baked. The picture I painted. The funny anecdote. The smiling kids. It's a slickly edited facade.

Who wants to see a picture of my laundry brimming with piles of washing and the walls fuzzy with tumble dryer fluff? The spoonful of Nutella I had for lunch. Or the neglected relationship with my husband?

When did I ever tweet about the hidden stash of leftover painkillers saved up for the rainiest of rainy day? Or the plan to disappear that I had mentally filed away in the darkest corner of my mind? When did I ever admit that I couldn't look my own child in the eyes for fear of drowning in an ocean of guilt?

The real stuff is hidden away beneath a thin veneer of motherly cheerfulness.

I know too well that just taking a shower is a mammoth achievement most days.

I know what it's like to paint on a smile with your makeup. I am all smoke and mirrors, bluff and bravado too. But for you, if you need to hear it, I am all ugly truth.

And the truth is that sometimes this mothering business really sucks. It can be a craptastic mystery tour of human emotion. Sometimes it rips your heart out warm from your chest and still beating and it stomps on it with a stilettoed heel. Sometimes it's a joyful romp across flower-filled fields of fancy.

Best of all, sometimes it's funny. And I am here to laugh with you when you're ready to laugh again.

I am here to catch you if you fall, like you, and my other friends, caught me. You just didn't know it at the time.

Your friend.