My name is the Muddled Mother for good reason, I am 28 years old and I have my daughter, Miss J who is 4 years and son Mr T who is 17 months old. I work part-time whilst trying to keep my two children, a husband and a cat alive. http://themuddledmother.co.uk/antidepressants/first-blog-post/ I am dealing with my postnatal depression and anxiety, but as much as I am struggling I am making progress and learning so much about myself on the way. I didn't have postnatal depression with my first, Miss J and lived in a bubble for 3 years until my second came along. My depression started in pregnancy, but I had reassured myself once my baby was here I would be ok. When Mr T arrived three weeks early, initially I felt happy, but after a week things slowly got worse and I felt I had a massive black cloud consuming me and all I wanted to do was run away and hide and not be me anymore. The guilt I felt was overwhelming that I had had another baby that had taken Miss J's happy mummy away and I felt like I was failing both of them.
Now I look back and it was obvious that I had PND and also that I wasn't a bad mum, I was just struggling and trapped in my own self-doubting head. I couldn't get out the bed in the morning and spent most of my time either crying or wishing I could escape. It was lonely, dark and hopeless existence in a time when I should be jumping for joy. The negative thoughts that plague my head and the critical thinking I believed just made life impossible to live and enjoy. The lack of motivation and my mind constantly over thinking, every little detail and conversation I may have when I leave the house was consuming. I couldn't get out the house but, then I felt trapped by being in the house and isolated. I wanted to go out in my car but would end up turning my car around as the anxiety got too much. Miss J and Mr T were missing out on so much and having to live with me, someone who was depressed.
The day I realised I needed help was a lovely sunny day. I managed to get two loads of washing out in the garden by midday to dry, with a baby with reflux I was so thankful for some sun to dry the clothes so my house didn't look like a dry cleaners. Later on that afternoon the lovely English weather decided to change to a full on English storm so all my hard work was wasted. I cried and screamed and felt like I just couldn't do this for one more day. As I sobbed Miss J came up to me and said 'mummy don't cry, I love you'. This as lovely as it had been to hear just made me cry even more, but I knew I needed to change for my children and for myself so I phoned my Dr and confessed out loud for the first time that I had PND and I needed help. Five months we had lived in this hell.
After speaking with my Dr and getting a prescription of Sertraline things got much worse before they got better. I had been warned by the Dr that these antidepressants could make me feel suicidal which they did. I was feeling broken, hopeless and guilty, but I was still trying to keep up the impression to the people closest that I was fine. After being on the antidepressants for a couple of weeks I forced myself to go to my local children's centre to get Mr T weighed and to speak with a health visitor. I told the health visitor everything and broke down in tears whilst she held me. It was such a relief to tell a stranger and not feel so alone and trapped. My HV was lovely and offered me lots of support and set me up by visiting me every week at my home and arranged Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. I was so thankful to have the HV for support, especially with the antidepressants still failing to kick in and a six week wait for CBT to start.
The days at home with Mr T were strained and not what I had planned in my maternity leave fairy tale. Washing was mounting with Mr T throwing up constantly from his reflux, my husband worked every hour he could so we could afford for me to be at home and I was alone and empty. Many times I just wanted to run away and hide or even end it, but the fact this baby boy needed my milk to sustain him kept me going. I'm all for feeding your baby, whichever way suits you and your family, but for me breastfeeding made me feel like I had some use even in the dark days. I would stare at Mr T and think I love you but I really don't like you and I did still smile and laugh but it was almost like I was an imposter pretending I was ok. I got pretty good at faking it especially with friends and on Facebook, that when I did 'come out' no one actually noticed something wasn't right. Only now my husband has said it makes sense and he wish he had noticed earlier. I know so much more now and I'm not surprised that I got it, as I had a difficult pregnancy, was very anaemic and had a very difficult baby with reflux. I wish I knew then that having PND didn't make me a rubbish mum and it was something that was out of my control.
I have held onto lots of guilt but now I'm able to let go and accept I did all I could in the situation I was in at the time. I went out and asked for help and even though the road has been long and I've hit a few dead ends on the way, I have progressed and I have got through it. I am not finished yet, but in this year I am a millions miles away from where I was and I'm thankful I found the strength in my weakest moment and managed to survive.
1. Admitting and talking about it is a massive step in itself. Talk to a friend, family member, GP, a helpline or a Health visitor and you'll realise you aren't alone.
2. Asking for help from the GP. My GP was amazing and was quick to get me the help I needed and prescribed me antidepressants.
3. Get support from the children's centre. My children's centre were quick to get me extra help from a Health Visitor, who would visit me for a chat whilst my tablets started to work and I waited for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
4. My Health Visitor got me in touch with IAPT http://www.iapt.nhs.uk/ service who sorted out my Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. Anyone with a baby under 12 months gets priority and I was lucky that I only had to wait a few weeks to see someone.
5. Support groups on Facebook were my lifeline as I could write down how I felt.
6. Phone lines like PANDAS or Samaritans are amazing if you do need to speak to someone
at any time of day.
7. Counselling is amazing and I'm so glad after my CBT ended to have this once a week. You can go through your IAPT, private or for me I went through a counselling charity and I pay what I can afford for each session. It's also worth checking if you have private healthcare if it's covered.