Last week I was saddened to hear of at least three suicides committed by sufferers of Post Natal Depression (PND) This has prompted me to write openly, to anyone suffering from PND right now. To acknowledge that pain, that sadness, that confusion and fear that is being felt.
I want you to know that you are not alone. There are so many people that do care. Whether they are family or friends or perhaps complete strangers, there is someone out there who will listen. Who will understand. Who will want to help you.
First of all you must know that what ever negativity you believe to be the truth right now it is a lie. You are a good parent. You deserve to have your children. You are worth so much, are a very valid part to this world, to this life. You are tired. Perhaps feeling so drained, even ill. The nights feel like they last forever, especially when your child cries a lot and perhaps you don't know how to settle them or you're struggling to feed them.
Acknowledging that something isn't quite right is your first step. That's sometimes the toughest step to take. I thought if I admitted how much I hated myself, how I wanted to run away and leave my family, how I wanted to sometimes not even be 'here' anymore, then someone would take my child away. I thought I'd be judged for not feeling an instant bond with my baby, for not being able to keep my baby on my breast or for not liking my baby. Loved? Yes.
I did not like my own child and you know what? It's not unusual. Your head is so preoccupied, you're so drained, you have visitors, you have appointments to make- promises to keep. On top of that you're trying to feed your child (even my bottle fed baby put up a fight!) There's the crying: your crying, your child's crying, the worrying, the hormones - it's just too much sometimes.
There is an end and it's not the end you sometimes dream of in those darkest moments. As hard as it may seem to believe there is someone who cares. Friends in real life, friends on the end of the phone, family members, doctors, midwives, health visitors, Sure Start volunteers, *online and telephone support.
Getting medical help is often a first step and if you're suffering I hope you find the strength to make this step. You can be placed onto a waiting list and get support from councilors/therapists. Antidepressants can help to balance hormones and this is what I received. After my second birth I had Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help with low mood and anxiety. I'd really recommend this.
Having some time to yourself is easier said than done but it does help. Getting out of the house and not isolating yourself is truly terrifying sometimes and a hard step to take but again, if you can either alone (helps to clear your mind) or with someone else for company it is well worth it. Bonding with your baby/child is important too. I found this very difficult but eventually it became easier.
Please be kind to yourself. Please don't hide behind smiles and I'm okays. Please don't make any rash and impulsive decisions. That probably sounds ridiculous but well, it's not too late to fight. Even when you're so tired and fighting seems like the last thing you want to do, please don't give up. One day, like me and hundreds of other parents who once felt so weak and worthless, you'll be glad you fought.
If you are someone who is trying to support someone or thinks someone you know may be suffering from PND, please talk to them. Offer them help, support, a listening ear. Most of all be understanding and patient. There are plenty of places where you can read up on information about PND. Like any depression, support and time to heal is needed. Sensitivity and patience is needed, even though at times it will feel incredibly tough.
* Helpful Links:*
This link will take you to Mothers For mothers, a PND support group. Here you will find names and contact details for many other organisations.
For help and support with a baby who excessively cries or seems to cry no matter what you do. This can be very difficult to deal with and this link will take you to the home page of Cry-Sis.
Home Start offers help and support to parents no matter what you are going through, including PND. Volunteers can be sent to your house on a weekly basis to keep you company, have a chat, help you other many other things to make life easier.
This link will take you to Mumsnet's page explaining all the signs and symptoms of PND and offers various details of places you can get help and support. You can also use this parenting site, as well as others, to connect with those going through similar experiences in their online community forums.