Mental Health Awareness Week is all about talking about your mental health and the MumHood crew will be doing just that at their ‘Staying Sane While Spinning Plates’ panel this Friday. Join MumHood Founder Pip Black and panellists Kirsti Nicole Hadley, Bryony Gordon, Carrie Anne Roberts and Portia Freeman for a special event in aid of Mental Health Awareness Week. The panel will be a lively Q&A for 45 minutes before opening questions to the floor. 50% of ticket sales will go to Heads Together. Buy yours from – Move Your Frame.
This is an article we received from one of our readers, who wanted to remain anonymous. It outlines just how postnatal depression can affect a new mum.
When I brought my newborn baby girl home from hospital for the first time, I suddenly realised that my first born, my little baby boy, was no longer a baby! On the day I was to give birth to my daughter, I left home in the early hours to head to the hospital. I kissed my sleeping baby boy goodbye, but on my return with my tiny newborn, my son suddenly looked like a massive child in comparison. I’m not sure if it was the hormones or the shock of realising that my son had changed so much, more than I had realised, that I became depressed.
In the space of a month following the birth of my daughter, my son fell ill, twice with sickness. I am emetrophobic (in laymen’s terms, this mean I have a phobia of vomit) so dealing with any kind of sick is really hard for me, but I always assumed that my child’s vomit would be different, and I’d be able to handle it. Because I had sunk to such a terrible low, my phobia all of a sudden became a living nightmare. This little boy that had replaced my baby was doing the one thing that puts the fear of god into me: he was throwing up. Luckily, on both occasions, my husband was home, and took the reigns, but it did nothing to discourage the anxiety I was feeling at the time.
I felt as though the bond with my son was broken. It felt like he was a stranger and I wanted MY baby boy back. I found I couldn’t kiss him or hug him like I had done just weeks before. In my mind he was not mine. Someone had taken my baby and replaced him with this toddler. My depression was getting worse. I became extremely anxious, every cough or sudden movement that was picked up on the baby monitor made my body go into anxiety overload, for fear of and I was a wreck. I felt alone and trapped.
Somedays I thought about leaving but I couldn’t bear to be apart from my husband or daughter, no thought for my son. Other days I thought about someone else maybe adopting him even though I knew my husband would never let that happen. He couldn’t understand how I could feel like this. I was in a world that was broken and I couldn’t find a way out.
I took the brave step and spoke to my health visitor who urged me to speak to my doctor. I was prescribed anti-anxiety and anti-depressants and was diagnosed with Postnatal Depression. I also begged to be referred for counselling as I hated the way I was feeling and wanted to be normal again and I couldn’t see how tablets alone could fix this!
The counselling didn’t start for a few months but once it did, in the form of over the phone sessions, I was made to analyse my fears. Gradually after about 6 months, I was able to go to bed without those dreadful phobic thoughts of my son being sick.
During the entire time I put on an act with my son as I didn’t want him to know there was anything wrong. Everyday was a very tough slog.
I’m a year on now, I’m starting to reduce my medication and I am hoping I can come off the tablets completely very soon. After much determination I feel that I’ve built bridges when it comes to the bond I felt I’d lost with my son.
You might be reading this, as I am while I’m writing, and think I am a terrible person. I felt like a terrible person the entire time, and I still do. I’m devastated to have felt the emotions I suddenly found myself feeling towards my son. My poor little boy was not even 2 years old. I know deep down it was the illness, and something out of my control, but I feel gutted that I will never get back those precious months I lost.
Having a new born is a hard task for any mum, the sleepless nights, the issues with breastfeeding, not to mention trying to hold together a family and a household. Anyone that struggles with postnatal depression needs to be brave, seek help and speak to someone. Don’t wait. Don’t let those feelings fester. I could not have got through this last year without the help of my health visitor, doctor and the support of my husband and family who have been amazing.