Post Natal Depression. Ah crap. That can’t be right. Not me. My husband is super supportive, I have fantastic support from my mum, family and close friends.
Mothering was ‘supposed’ to be my thing! I’m ‘supposed’ to be ‘good’ at this! I should be feeling seven shades of bliss and happiness right now. Not feeling so overwhelmed that I can’t make a decision about how to finish the shopping, or to even get out of the house.
I’m well educated and aware when it comes to PND – I’ve worked with vulnerable women and their families for over 10 years, including new mums and community agencies. I know that it’s a lot more common than people think, that it has nothing to do with your ability or education.
I was diagnosed with PND when my first bub was four months old. And this came about because I knew how I felt wasn’t the way it had to be. I talked to my husband and to my mum – a current Maternal and Child Health nurse. A then I went to my GP. She was brilliant. Listened to me, reassured me, and basically acknowledged how I was feeling and just how hard and UNEXPECTED mothering can be.
For me, a combination of counselling and medication helped. But there again was another thing to ‘feel guilt’ about – medication whilst breastfeeding! However, I was reassured by my GP, and to be honest, I needed something to help me out of the fog I was in. Medication helped me with that. I’ve always thought and advocated that if the mum isn’t at her best, how can the rest of the family be?
In the time since this all came about, I’ve done a lot of thinking and reflection. How have we developed such expectations of ourselves? Why should I as a woman, automatically ‘be good’ at mothering? Why do I think I should be? Why do I think that I’m not? Mothering, parenting, is such an amazing, tiring, funny, exhausting, wonderful and shattering experience all at once. It’s not something that you can fully prepare for, despite the reading, the classes, the internet trawling you might do. It is different for EVERYONE. The pregnancy, the birth process, the feeding, the sleeping, the change to your partnership. The change to yourself.
The most important thing I think I can say to anyone about to become parents, or even those already in it, is to be kind to yourself. Be gentle. Love your baby and family. But love yourself as well. Chances are, you’re doing a fabulous job.
If you think you could be feeling better, or your partner could be feeling better, check PANDA out. They’re a good place to start.