Post-natal depression

What was your experience of post natal depression?

For me, I think it started straight after the birth. I needed a planned caesarean section. When my daughter was born I felt no emotion at all. This really concerned me as I thought that you were supposed to love your child as soon as they are born. I didn't feel any desire to hold her, feed her or change or bath her. I did do all these things, I just did it without any emotion. I would just leave her crying because I couldn't handle her and felt that she wasn't mine.

The last straw came when I was back home with her. I went out and left her in the house on her own. Luckily a friend saw me without her and realised that my daughter must be on her own. Fortunately she had a spare front door key and went in to look after her. I think I was out for a couple of hours - I had gone shopping. I had completely forgotten that I had baby to look after.

When I got back home I realised that something must be wrong with me. How can you forget that you have a baby?

My friend sat down and talked with me and encouraged me to speak to someone because she realised that I was ill. I went to see my health visitor and she came along with me to see my doctor. That was important as at that time I didn't trust my doctor. I just thought everyone was saying that I was a bad mum.

My health visitor spoke to my partner to explain that I had post natal depression and that a psychology nurse was going to come round and see how ill I was as I refused to take tablets. She made me realise that I was ill, not bad and that was why I didn't feel that I loved my daughter. She was very supportive. She took my daughter out for a while to give me a break and my dear partner did the same.

I was very lucky to have understanding people around me. Only a couple of friends were nasty. They said that I shouldn't have kids if I couldn't cope - and now I don't talk to them anymore. I think my daughter did suffer a little because of my postnatal depression. She didn't have my unconditional love as a mother should give, in her early months. But she has grown up knowing that she is loved no matter what happens.

With hindsight I've learnt to trust those people around you that are being supportive and to accept their help. It took me a long time to admit that I needed help.

 

How did it effect your relationship with your partner?

My partner (poor thing) really took the brunt of this. I just couldn't manage to keep the home clean and tidy, so he used to do it all, including meals. He tried to help with looking after our daughter, but I used to freak out whenever he went near her. Even now, I'm not sure why I reacted like that. I think it may have been guilt. I felt that it was my it was my job to look after her, so even though I couldn't manage it, I felt really threatened and guilty when he tried to do it instead.

He also experienced my mood swings. We had shouting matches and sometimes I threw things. I never hit him, but people did sometimes ask. When I was at my angriest, all he did was hold me tight, in case I did lash out at him, so to be honest I don't really know whether I would have hit him or not

 

What would you say to someone who was going through this now?

Please don't think that you are a bad mum because you are not, you are ill. Talk to someone as talking does help. It gives you a different perspective on your situation and it helps to make things clearer in your mind. You will get through this. It took me a while but it did pass and I got through it and you can too. Please don't give up. No, you are not going mad.

My postnatal depression lasted for about 2 years They told me it started as soon as my daughter was born, but we didn't realise it was serious until she was about 3 months

Things began to improve when I had a nurse who specialised in psychology come round. I gradually started to feel that I could love my daughter - even though before that, I had felt that I couldn't. Things just gradually started to improve after that.

It's so hard not to feel guilty but it's the one thing you mustn`t do as it can overwhelm you.

 

What would you say to someone concerned about a friend or family member?

Encourage them to speak to a health visitor. If you ask them to see a doctor they may run a mile. A health visitor can seem like a much safer person to approach. Also do your best to encourage them and let them know that they are doing a good job. Even if you think they could do better - if you tell them this it will make the person feel worse.

Another important thing is to make sure that other family members have support too. Although my partner did at the time have his Nan to talk to, who was a great support to him, I think more help from the medical staff we had contact with would have helped him too, in understanding what was wrong with me.

The fact that I was told that I wasn't going mad helped. With a good partner and friends encouraging me and telling me I was doing ok, we somehow got through it.

 

Article written by Angeleyes.