Now let me set a scene, first-time mum, scared, alone, full of anxiety and worry. I hadn’t left my house in over a month, I hadn’t gone downstairs in over a week. I felt the only way I was safe and my new baby was by remaining where we were, static, stationary, still, safe. That was one of my lowest weeks. I eventually spoke to my partner, straight to the docs I went and tablets signed over. Ok, they worked life carried on and I began to smile again.
Picture another scene. A young woman with a poorly week old baby. Finally out of NICU but placed on a ward with teenagers, children and right next to the sink everyone needs to use. Trying to breastfeed, trying to sleep, trying to recover from a traumatic birth. Seeing her young daughter for the first time in days, having never been away from her. Suddenly, sleeping on different sides of town, a mother torn between children. Torn between despair and happiness, he was here, he was ok just not well enough for home.
A phone call with the GP, more pills prescribed, come in when your out of the hospital. No support, no help, just more pills.
This time, they didn’t work and life became hard. It took me two years and counselling to finally move on from my second bout of PND. A long time in the life of children, but we did it, we managed and I learnt to hide it well.
Fast forward four years and baby number three arrives. This time, I’m ready, I’m prepared for the beast. I know I can take it on and I can win. There are certain strategies I use now to keep my depression in check, to keep the demons at bay. They’ve helped me to move on from my PND and not bring me down a third time.
I push myself to say no when I need a break. No to friends, no to my family and sometimes even no to the kids. People will appreciate no much more than lame excuses!
It’s ok to feel down.
This was a big one, I’ve always punished myself for feeling down. Forced myself to be happy all the time, happy or depressed there was no Inbetween. Now whenever I feel a bit crap I remind myself it’s ok. It’s normal, it’s human, we have to feel it to accept love and appreciate the good times. Most of all I teach my children it’s ok to feel down or sad, even angry. I teach them about the real emotions not just the happy, carefree ones. That seem to be thrown down our throats at every angle from an early age. In fact ‘it’s ok’ is one of our family mantras. No matter what we’ll be OK.
Get up and get dressed.
I never realised how important this was before PND. Even if you don’t leave the house that day, get up and get dressed. It puts you in a different frame of mind. It keeps you sane and it prepares you for whatever lies ahead.
I’ve seen quite a few people dissing mindfulness recently and it makes me sad. This one has been my saviour, it’s brought me back from dark places. Most of all its given me the strength to be the best me I can be. I’ve learned to enjoy the small things. To appreciate the conversations and interactions I share with my children. I have an appreciation for my baby I didn’t have with my other two. I’m taking so much more from life all through being mindful. No, I don’t meditate, can you imagine with three kids! But I slow down and appreciate the here and now much more. I don’t worry as much about tomorrow. I understand what matters is right now, that’s what makes the future.
Look after yourself.
It’s so important to take a minute for yourself. I know what makes me happy and how to set myself up for a good day. So every morning I make sure I get a shower and a brew. That’s what I need to face the world, the good and the bad. Maybe you like to run, read or write. Maybe you like to have your nails done, see your friends. Whatever it is that makes you happy make time for it. Make time for yourself.
Let someone in.
Whether you are in a relationship or it’s a family member or friend you’re close to. Let them in, let them know your struggles. For me just talking about how I’m feeling takes the pressure off. Just remember your close, loved ones want to help. They want to see you succeed at being a parent. Most of all they want to see you happy!
Consider it if you’re feeling low, depressed or under too much pressure. It helps, it teaches you how to cope and how to change your thought processes.
Don’t believe the hype!
Facebook can be so destructive to someone suffering from PND or depression. But please remember everyone has their struggles. They just don’t always share them with the world. It’s much more fun to tell the world about your beautiful life rather than how shit you’re feeling that day. It’s just life I’m afraid. Just remember everyone’s fighting their own battles and demons. Some are just better at hiding them than others.
Music and writing.
They are my therapy if I feel down I listen to the music I love and I write it out. I spend time writing down my worries, why I’m sad, what upset me. If an event or upcoming day is worrying me I write down what I want or expect to happen. Usually, writing helps me find a solution to my worries and if it can’t I let them it go. Whatever will be will be but I won’t let it take me down!