Today The Unsung Mum is feeling weirdly sentimental.
It's The Baby's 2nd birthday and should be a happy time but it's not. The Unsung Mum remembers, this time, two years ago, correctly named 'The Dog Days', when life wasn't so peachy.
Back then, The Unsung Mum was full of joy from having The Baby but that didn't last long. Once at home, The Unsung Mum started feeling a bit odd. See, like everyone, she'd heard of post-natal depression, but didn't actually know what it was. She thought it was something that only happened to other people, a bit like Chlamydia or getting eight hours' straight sleep.
She didn't realize that bloody PND comes in all shapes and sizes. The Unsung Mum is a simple lass and thought it meant you'd cried for a bit, threw a few plates at the other half's head then got on it with so to speak.
Much to The Unsung Mums annoyance, though, Mother Nature had other ideas. The Unsung Mum thinks Mother Nature is a twat though and should get a taste of her own medicine one day. She'd happily give it to her too, somewhere between shoving a Tampon up her bits and inspecting her armpit hair.
"F**k this." The Unsung Mum cried. It was day 5 and she just wanted the tears to bugger off now. "It's completely normal." The Hub reminded her. She wanted to remind him that there was still plenty of room under their patio for his lifeless body, along with next doors dog and The Kid's fucking whistle.
'And anyway' The Unsung Mum thought, 'these bloody tears will stop soon and I'll start feeling a bit more like myself.'
The Unsung Mum liked that idea. She was getting a tad concerned that this grey feeling was going to hang around for a while. The days seemed passable, running after her feral toddler and producing milk any dairy farm would be proud of kept her busy. No, it was the nights that scared the shit out of her. The scary ass thoughts, like would a cat jump through the window and suffocate The Baby? Or what if the house flooded and she sailed away?
It was lucky that she went to all those mother groups then. The one's that told her how happy she was and wasn't she lucky to have lost the baby weight so soon. The Unsung Mum didn't give a shit, though, about anything. Not the dried milk stains by her left boob, last nights rusk in her hair or the four-hour-old nappy The Kid was still attempting to walk around in.
Looking back now, The Unsung Mum wished she'd done more. She now knows that at least 20% of women suffer from some sort of PND. The Unsung Mum is shit at maths, but even she knows that that is a lot of women.
The Unsung Mum probably knew deep down that telling someone the truth would have helped, but that is like asking a toddler to share her birthday presents with her older sister. Yep, The Unsung Mum felt like she was up shit creek without a paddle, or a fucking canoe if she is completely honest. (Which of course, she tries to be as much as humanly possible.)
And yet nobody talks about it. The Unsung Mum loves a good birth story, the more intimate the better, and doesn't mind sprouting off her own within two minutes of meeting a complete stranger in Sainsbury's. So it still baffles her now to think she couldn't ask for the help she needed. But she couldn't.
She now knows that PND is a vicious cycle of bullshit that makes you feel isolated and alone. The more alone and isolated she felt, the more depressed she became.
The Unsung Mum thinks of herself as a happy go lucky sod, but during 'The Dog Days' she couldn't shake the bloody thing off.
The Unsung Mum was stuck somewhere between her own version of hell and oblivion. She can safely say that it sucked. Yep, even more than The Hubs cooking. Until the 'Lightbulb Day' happened. A friend called. Yes, she called and knew very well not to come around as that would have made The Unsung Mum feel like she had to tidy up her pigsty. Instead, she muttered six simple words.
"It's ok not to be ok."
She reminded The Unsung Mum that she was bloody amazing and was kicking parenting in the butt every day and that even though these yummy mummy's looked like they had all their shit together, they probably didn't and could be suffering too.
The months spent in the clutches of PND are a tad hazy to her now. But the worst memories are of the loneliness; the powerlessness to tell anyone what it felt like; the utter belief that no one else could possibly feel like this when they had such a perfect baby.
The Unsung Mum thanks her lucky stars and this special friend for her magic ears and kind words every day. Without her, she's pretty sure she would have murdered The Hub and ended up in a Scientology camp married to Tom Cruise.
The Unsung Mum wishes that she could remember more of The Baby's first year than just the unending grey but she can't. She now realizes that this isn't something to feel ashamed of. The only thing she is ashamed of is not recognizing her own condition sooner.
'PND needs to do one.' The Unsung Mum thinks. Along with cancer, hummus, and The Hubs stinky arse.
*** If you can relate to this post, or just need someone to talk. Please call the PANDAS Helpline which is available from 9am - 8pm every day. Their dedicated volunteer team are on hand to offer support, advice and can help point you in the right direction if you need more support. 0843 28 98 401. Please call.•••
If you'd like more tales from the parenting front line from a mum with offspring who like kicking, beige food and driving her mad then check out the rest of the blog here.