After the recent report that was published in Parliament on Tuesday, I was honoured to be there to witness all parties coming together and support the work of the MMHA. It was reported that the UK will lose £8.1 billion per year as the illness not only effects the new mum, but the children and other areas in later life if unsupported.
But how about my kids? How am I with them? At my worst, I'm unable to cope with them. I can't engage, I don't want to play, getting myself up, dressed and fed is sometimes beyond me. Often, all I'm capable of is sitting and staring at a wall for hours on end. I resent every demand that's made of me, I want to be left alone, utterly and completely.
It's important that we recognise that some men will not benefit from being at the birth of their child. For some people this would seem like a step backwards, the exclusion of anyone based on their sex, from anything, will always be seen as such, but we must remember that a father's mental health is important too.
Ellie's piece resonated with me on a lot of levels, and I am so proud of her for advocating for something that ALL women and babies, of all socio-economic levels, everywhere, need and deserve. But it also got me thinking that something continues to be missing from this conversation. (I can say this, knowing that Ellie will have my back!)
You tentatively get out of bed and as you take each ritual step into the nursery you realise that your steps are a little lighter and the quick sand you feel yourself walking through most days is now more like a muddy puddle. Your head feels, dare you say it "clearer" and the morning routine not as daunting.
Being home with my son was a battle. A battle against the wolf. That wolf lurked and lingered. It undermined me and my choices. I watched it circle the house as it watched me feed the baby. "You don't know what you're doing". "You call yourself a mother." The taunts were piercing. I was shattering a little more each time.
As a society, we probably do not understand the extent to which perinatal mental health problems can impact adversely on families and in particular children. There is a paradox of society's expectation of the happy mother, perfect parents with a much loved baby. This is in contrast compared to the hidden realities of becoming and being parents.