I think it’s the guilt that will remain with me for the rest of my life.
I’ve been off antidepressants for over 3 months now. It’s all still a work in progress but I absolutely feel like I’ve entered the ‘post’ postnatal depression phase.
I feel again able to deal with life, I don’t experience such excessive and disproportionate anger or anxiety, and I feel happy. Obviously I get exhausted, stressed and anxious, I am a very normal mother to two energetic kids, and I’m also trying to work and maintain my own identity. I feel now though that I can accept being a mum, and that in itself that is probably the most important role I will ever play, but it’s taken me the best part of 5 years to get to this point.
However, now I’m getting through it, doesn’t mean my journey ends there; as I try to navigate the overwhelming guilt that I have for hitting the fast forward button on my daughters babyhood.
These feelings are only exaggerated by the fact that I am now able to embrace and enjoy my sons toddlerhood. On one side it’s amazing, now I get to know how it feels to be a mum who enjoys her baby, who wants to smother him in kisses, and on the other hand it’s devastating to know that she didn’t get this same responsiveness from me. She had to deal with a mother who was suffering, who shouted at her for having reflux, who was numb to all maternal feelings. That breaks my heart.
The fact it breaks my heart in some way is good, it means I can feel again, love again and make it up to her. I can’t change what I did or didn’t do, but I can make up for it now. This is what tells me I’m recovering, I can look forward, rather than dwelling on what could or should have been.
By working on giving her what she needs now rather than worrying about what happened in the past validates to me that I am in this ‘post’ postnatal depression phase and puts me a few steps closer to be free from its shackles.
I have no doubt that the guilt, to some degree will always linger but if I’ve learnt anything through this experience it’s to be gentle on myself, not worry about things I can’t change and that there are so many other women out there going through similar situations, and therefore plenty of children of PND mums who have grown up to be happy and healthy.
Thanks for reading, Joey x