It’s not funny at all, but it’s my way of dealing with it…this isn’t a sob story, it’s actually OK, but there is a journey to go on to get to that point…so here is the short(ish) version…
I had PND (undiagnosed) and I have PND (diagnosed). It’s the sound of a baby crying, it seems to just touch a nerve deep inside of me that makes me panic and feel totally out of control.
With Gigi it was there from the moment she was born and with Blake it hit me like a slap across the face a couple of weeks in. With Gigi it never really went away, by the time she was around two years old I was ‘managing’ it, but shortly after I became pregnant and the thought of going back to the beginning again terrified me.
Blakes birth was great, calm and controlled, when I held him I thought to myself ‘this is fine I can do this’, and I couldn’t stop looking at him. But then I felt guilty, why didn’t I feel like this with Gigi? The doubt started to creep in. When Gigi and Blake met I was overwhelmed with love for both of them, but then one day a couple of weeks in I broke down, I cried and I felt exhausted, not from lack of sleep but from the constant mental anguish and struggle with my identity, and emotions.
My husband, my parents and my friends had seen it all before and knew what was happening. I constantly joke about my #parentfails but as I said that’s just my way of coping.
It came to a head when Blake was a few weeks old, we had friends coming over for dinner (take out, obvs!) one night and I sat hallway floor sobbing. I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t want to do anything apart from curl up in a corner away from the world, and away from my children.
Our friends arrived and I burst into tears. We talked, they themselves had been dealt mental health issues and said that talking about it and facing up to it was the ONLY option. This alone gave me some relief. The monkey was off my back but the circus was still in town.
My husband said something to me that was the final push I needed – ‘if you broke your leg you’d go to the doctor, get a cast and take painkillers, so lets just go and get some treatment for this.’ And, although I wouldn’t admit to this very often, he’s right! If you have any kind of physical illness you go and get medication or treatment or advice, so why not for this?
There isn’t any stigma attached to it anymore, everyone knows someone who’s been through similar, it’s the time we live in; we understand our minds more and we have more pressures than ever.
So this time I went to the doctor, she was amazing, she said I had moderate PND, she advised me that medication and therapy would be the quickest way through this. She wrote out the prescription and referred me to a therapist. It only took a couple of sessions before they discharged me. You need to take the medication for a minimum of 6 months, so we are now working on a plan to wean off them. I’m not scared, because I know I’ve recovered, I just needed some calm breathing space to do it, which is what this course of treatment provided.
I’m happy, properly happy, much less anxiety, no anger, and very little panicking just more relaxed, like I was before I had babies. The children are happy, Gigi has never seemed happier, yes she’s a handful and has tantrums like all 3/4 year olds but she smiles, like I’ve never seen her smile before. We’ve bonded.
I am still exhausted getting up at 6am everyday with the kids, and working, and trying to be a fun wife…yes I still shout sometimes when Gigi takes all of her clothes off as I’m trying to get her out of the house and off to nursery school….yes I still look forward to bedtime so I can have some peace and quiet (and wine)…but I no longer want out, I am no longer fighting the fact I’m a mother.
Just because I’m a mummy doesn’t mean I can’t work, go out on dates with my husband, go away without the kids, drink wine with my girlfriends, wear leather trousers and high heels, sing at the top of my voice to Kisstory, and spend way too much of my time on Instagram! It’s changed me in so many ways but it doesn’t have to consume me. And that doesn’t make me a bad mum because I want to engage in things other than my kids!
My story is that you don’t have to suffer, it’s not worth it. It’s no good for you, your children, or your partner. You’ve got to take care of yourself to be able to look after others.
It’s also VERY normal, the more I talk about it the more I’m finding so many people who’ve been through this. Every story and experience of PND is different but by seeking help the outcome is generally better for the whole family.