It is currently mental health awareness week, so when I saw this throwback photo of me and Nami I felt compelled to share my own journey with postnatal depression. He was merely 2 weeks old here and so tiny I can hardly believe it. On the outside I seemed so content and happy, but the true story is that I was very tired and overwhelmed.
It’s just the baby blues.
Having struggled with my mental health for as long as I can remember, It really came as no surprise to me that I had postnatal depression after giving birth to my first born. I tried to justify it and put it down to me being quite young at the time (early 20’s), in an unhappy relationship, feeling unsupported and the list goes on.
Going through pregnancy the second time round had been so different. I was in happy committed relationship. This was a union full of love, support and mutual respect. I expected to get the baby blues from the lack of sleep but I didn’t think I would struggle with postnatal depression again.
Depression is behind me now.
I had the homebirth experience of my dreams. Nami was born at home, in a peaceful environment with 2 amazing midwives, a great doula, my hubby and my mother all supporting me. Things were definitely different this time around, my mental health was in check. or so I thought.
It was honestly everything I wanted it to be and I couldn’t be happier. There were tears of joy when I held my baby in my arms, phew! We’d made it through and everything was going to be ok.
Anxiety took over!
At around day 10 that I started to realise things weren’t exactly right. My anxiety was so high, I was afraid to even venture outside with him.
I started to stress about all the things that could go wrong. Staying awake at night just watching him, so afraid that if I didn’t, something bad would happen to him.
I cried everyday! So tired, sleep deprived and yet I wouldn’t/couldn’t even let anyone else hold my baby. This was way beyond the baby blues, my mental health was struggling here. Worse still I didn’t feel like I deserved to even express how I was feeling.
I literally had my perfect rainbow baby that I’d been praying for, for years. We had tests done and had been told by doctors that the chances of me conceiving again were pretty much zero. Then Nami came along, and how selfish of me to not appreciate this gift.
I broke down to my midwife one day on one of her home visits and it was like a flood gate had been opened. I cried on her shoulder and she just held me and told me it was going to be ok. She encouraged me to seek help and put me in touch with the right people.
It wasn’t an overnight fix, but it was a step in the direction. Acknowledging that there was a problem and it wasn’t my fault was the first step. Letting go of the guilt and accepting help was next in line.
Mental health does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone at any time, even at those periods in life when you “should” be happy, but it shouldn’t define you.
It’s ok to say out loud, “I’m struggling with my mental health and I need help”. That doesn’t make you any less of a person, in fact it makes you human. We all have our moments. Sometimes its as simple as choosing to focus on just getting through the day
It will get better!
I’m so grateful for the therapy I’ve had (and continue to get) as it’s helped me get to where I am today.
I wanted to share my story in case anyone needs to hear/read this today. You don’t have to put on a brave face and you definitely don’t have to suffer in silence. Reach out and ask for help, you are not alone and it will get better.
Until next time my friends, love the life you’re living…in all its flawed beauty.