I start...I stumble...I delete... I breath... a definite ball of anxiety in the pit of my stomach as I think about what I am going to write. Not so much what, but where to start, finish, end, is there an end? What do I include, what do I not include. I've thought about all of this for so long and I’ve known I need to spill it onto a blank page, so I can start the next chapter. I talk about it all the time to whoever will listen, I don't pretend to be ok or that life is a walk in the park. I talk when there is someone to talk to. I write when there isn’t. I smile. I hurt sometimes, but I smile because in spite of all, I am damn well grateful and know how blessed I am.
After all these years, and all the progress I have made, why then, am I finding it so hard to admit in writing, that I have suffered with crippling Post Natal Depression on and off for the past 6 years. I can openly tell people I suffer, I am not ashamed of it. But there is something about writing it down here terrifying me. Making me think, do I remain anonymous? Do I put my name to it?
I don't think my concerns are about myself, I think it is the people close to me. While I have accepted my PND and work hard on it, there are still people that believe it's a personal thing, and perhaps best dealt with quietly quietly, behind closed doors. But the closed doors nearly killed me.
Talking and sharing with others, makes me feel ok, less alone, and I’d love to think that by sharing my truths, other people will feel ok about how they feel too. I like being honest, which has rendered me to be quite an open book. I don't mind people knowing lots about me, should they want, and particularly if it's going to help one other struggling person.
On the other side of the coin, I’m really quite happy not knowing anything about anyone either. It’s not that I’m self-absorbed or a self- obsessed, I just don't have a want or a need to know the inner workings and deep dark secrets and scandals of people around me. I just don't. I don't consider myself the slightest bit nosey. Unless someone specifically wants me to know something, I am happy without.
Other people are the opposite, they are just more conservative and keeping to themselves is what they do, and if that works for them, then that has to be a good thing.
As well as being honest with myself and others, I also feel I need to explain. Why I am the way I am, and why I was the way I was over the past few years…
I am proud of who I am today and I am proud of how empowered living through PND makes me feel. Yes there are bad days... I'm just over 3 in a row.
I can pin point the exact moment, as if a switch flicked inside me… It was the very instant our first precious little man arrived into the world. He came out and it's like I/ me flew away, leaving behind an empty confused vessel. I felt very strange. It was no fault of our darling boy, and as I know now, no fault of my own. There was just this unbelievably massive shift inside me. I find it very hard to describe, but at the time I remember thinking someone had just pulled out, or disconnected a few of my 'wires' and I was no longer able to control me, the me I used to be.
I struggled very hard that first year, the loneliness I felt was indescribable, and yet I used to hide away, avoided company and ignored my phone. I don't even like to think back too much at where I was those days. It was just awful. I did manage to make my way back out of the hole with the help of some medication for a month or so, and knowing that we wanted to have another child, I was determined I would not let this happen me again. Like I could control it...
The second time was not as instantaneous, but I recognised the signs a few weeks after our second little man was born, and headed off to the doctor again. I gave myself a couple of months on my medication and then weaned myself off it. I was determined I would find my way back to me, the old me, without medication.
The arrival of our third baby, saw the return of my PND with vengeance. This time it was letting me know it was not going away without my proper addressing it. This was hard hard hard. I did not feel the loneliness this time, or perhaps I had got used to it, but I was so tired constantly, exhausted, falling asleep at my desk at work, eating everything, so irritable and impatient and not willing to persevere even the slightest bit of anyone's nonsense. I was over assertive to the point I think I was deluded. I could not function, literally. The simplest of tasks were an ordeal, and the difficult tasks were insurmountable. I could not sleep. I was exhausted and could not sleep.
I discussed things with my GP and went back on medication, this time I was also to combine counseling. I was willing to throw anything and everything I could, to rid myself of this unholy hell, anything I could to help me out of the hole again and get myself back on solid ground. This time it was like digging myself out of a pit of quick sand. It took a very long time for me to notice any change, but eventually I started to see small signs of progress, I was making ground, clawing my way out with gritted determination, getting to the surface, I felt it.
I was taking my medication, I was receptive to my counseling but the key player in my ‘turnabout’ was exercise. I know this because this is when it all changed again. The more I exercised, the better I felt, I was getting control back, of myself, my moods, my body, my presence and my me. Not my old me, the me I’d been mourning since our first born, but the me, that felt good, self- assured, grown up, a new improved me. The me that survived a very tough 6 years and many obstacles. The me I am so proud of today. I am a stronger, more confident me than what I was in my 20’s, before marriage, motherhood and adulthood. I am far more determined and follow through with my goals, because I am able to, because I am realistic!
I have accepted me, I have come full circle and now fill my days being a mother, a friend, a wife, a photo taker and a writer. All the things I loved to do when I was playing make believe as a child.
I wonder how I wandered so far from my original childhood path. I will always wonder. I guess it doesn’t matter so much now, as I am back there, the new me on my old reliable path. Yes my foot will still slip off this path on occasion, I will fall, take a wrong turn or just stop for a while. There will be tough times, but as always I will take the positive from the negative when I come out the other side, a stronger me, because I will. I always do. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. xxxxx