But you don’t look depressed…
Apparently if you’ve had Postnatal Depression before you are more likely to have it again.
When I first had Depression I didn’t think it was Depression, I thought these were normal feelings after losing a baby, actually after losing two.
Being pregnant again and getting past my “safe point” of 12 weeks during my pregnancy with Jack seemed to help, but then I was taught a harsh lesson about how there is no safe point in pregnancy, when my waters went at 25 weeks and he was then born at 29 weeks. Those same feelings came back and my coping mechanism with life (or lack of) returned, that seems to be my way of spotting when something isn’t quite right with me, if I am suddenly unable to cope with everyday situations.
Of course my baby being born almost 3 months early wasn’t an everyday occurrence, so I cut myself some slack, just because I had the same feelings as when I lost the babies, didn’t mean I was Depressed, right?…Wrong.
I had this amazing baby, finally at home, finally in my arms, yet I felt like I wanted to die. I was so terrified of someone holding my baby and hypersensitive to what people said that I was isolated, but that was okay (to me). My baby had been born early, it was OK to be overprotective, that’s what I thought, and do you know what? I wasn’t wrong, I had every reason to be overprotective, but my fears of leaving the house, even walking down the street were wrong, it was Depression, it turns out it had never really gone, there just happened to be a lot of traumatic things happening around me that gave me even more reason to be sad.
So for a moment I sat and thought about how I may have Postnatal Depression after my first child was born, but I also felt off-colour, maybe I was ill? No…I was pregnant. Jack was three months old and he was going to be a big brother. Well, that answered all my questions, it must have been my hormones making me think like that. They’ll settle down, I thought, then before I had any time to think about myself or what may be going on in my head, or even the joy of a new baby…
I got the phone call every child dreads, my Mum saying my Dad was having a heart attack. He’d had one before when he was 42, it was very minor and he’d been improving since then, age now 50, I calmly got ready to make my way up to the hospital to check on him, but that wasn’t the case. As soon as my Mum told me, “they said his heart isn’t beating” that’s when I knew it was over, I just knew in the pit of my stomach, he wasn’t coming back.
So as my bump grew, so did my Depression, but my Dad had died of course I was depressed, it was grief! I’d never thought about the fact that since my first loss with a Molar Pregnancy, which brought with it a Cancer scare, that I had been suffering with Depression all this time, I had the thinking process that once I’d had Mikey I would be OK.
Don’t get me wrong, if you met me on the street or even spent a few hours with me, you’d probably say “You don’t look Depressed”, I was a master of disguising it, partially because I was ashamed, I had two perfect children by this time, what did I have to be Depressed about? And the rest of my fear was telling someone and then once flood gates open, they don’t close.
There’s also the fear everyone is too afraid to talk about, that your children could be taken away from you, I thought if I told my doctor that I felt like I was worthless and failing in every aspect of my life, that I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning and I was afraid to leave the house, that he’d think I couldn’t cope and would take my kids away, but this isn’t the case.
Finally I got the courage to go to the doctors over a year after first telling him I felt Depressed and he helped me, I didn’t take antidepressants because I was Breast feeding and didn’t want to stop, but I started counselling, which helped. I found life easier to cope with, I wasn’t afraid to get in a car with the kids in case it crashed, or walk down the street in case someone just took them from me, I felt like I could lead a normal life again, of course I will always grieve for my Dad, but life was manageable again.
So with my fifth pregnancy and third baby, I felt strong, like this time was different. I’d got into a great routine with my boys, they are both great kids, who sleep, eat and behave well (most of the time). There was the everyday stress of life in general, knowing I had to have a Cesarean which wasn’t what I wanted but was safest for baby and planning my wedding, but I was coping.
So what came next hit me like a tonne of bricks…
My husband Paul and I had a minor argument about 9 days after Nicole was born, it was that minor I can’t remember what it was about, but I remember just thinking “I can’t cope with this…I want to die”. The feelings of anxiety crept back again, I was scared to do things in case something bad happened, yet no-one knew. Since then it’s been like a snowball effect, it’s just got bigger.
There is a stigma that comes with Depression, that you must have a reason for it, it needs to be solvable…but what if it isn’t? I don’t want to feel like this, I hate that I anticipate every situation, conversation and reaction, but I can’t help it. I’ve got Depression…again, and it isn’t fussy who it chooses.
So I don’t look Depressed…
I can tell you, you’re right I don’t have the face of Depression because there isn’t one, it doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you have, what religion you are or what race you are, Depression can affect anyone at anytime.
I have three beautiful healthy children, an amazing husband and a loving family, I have every reason in the world to be happy and I am a lot of the time, but when I have a chance to gather my thoughts, or I’m faced with an everyday situation, I crumble.
Being Depressed doesn’t make me a bad mother, I love my kids, I look after them and I do everything in my power to make them happy. There isn’t even a question in my mind that I’d rather be anywhere or doing anything else than being with my kids, but the stigma of Depression leaves people feeling like they don’t deserve their children and this just isn’t the case.
If you are suffering with Depression, you need to talk to someone. Whether it is a family member, friend or a doctor. Let someone who cares know how you are feeling, there is no way out of it alone, I’ve learnt that the hard way, I’m about to start Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, in the hope I can put these horrible feelings behind me.
The only way to fight it is to talk to someone, Depression wants to isolate you…don’t let it.
Here’s some support links:
Mothers for Mothers
House of Light
The SMILE Group