Tag Archives: Postpartum depression

Do you have Post Natal Depression?

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Here’s my own personal checklist. A layperson’s Edinburgh Scale if you will. If you tick off anything on this list, see your family doctor, or another doctor you like and trust, and talk. Please. It’s not supposed to be like this. I’m not a doctor or psychologist or a mental health professional of any kind. This list just comes from my own experience and I think a lot of women, like me, miss what’s really going on because they put themselves last all the time and they think well, parenting is just hard that’s all. Well, yeah it’s hard. But it’s also joyful and brilliant. Life is supposed to be a mix of both, not all one or the other.

1. Are you sad? Like really sad? If you are awfully, awfully sad, for no particular reason, 80% of the time and the sadness is like a great big hole that stretches into a dark tunnel that has no end? This is not normal sadness. 

2. Do you look at your newborn/baby/toddler/child and feel…..nothing much? It takes lots of women a while to bond with their newborn babies, but if you just aren’t getting there and all it feels like is duty, it might be your chemicals out of whack, not your heart.

3. Is going out too much of a chore? Like obviously going out with a baby/toddler/kid is always a chore but if you are actively avoiding your social life, your friends and your family (where you didn’t used to) you may be experiencing a symptom of depression.

4. Is parenting absolutely no fun at all? Does the idea that it could actually be fun seem ridiculous to you? Is it all just duty and work and sadness and surviving? Call your doctor.

5. Do you feel like you missed something when you watch TV ads for baby products? Like, hang on, aren’t I supposed to be wearing a white bathrobe (with no stains) while gazing adoringly into my baby’s face while standing by a window overlooking paradise? Should I shake my head with good natured humour as my baby wakes for a feed in the night for the eleventh time but adore the bonding time such a feeding session affords me as a mother? Why don’t I quiver with motherly thrill as I softly caress my baby’s skin which is as soft as, um, a baby’s? Should I perhaps be taking more time to lovingly rub that expensive baby lotion into my baby’s post bath skin, as seen on TV? Actually no. If you relate to this one you’re actually pretty normal. Note to self: TV representations of motherhood are pretty much without exception, bullshit.

And while I’m at it, TV representations of motherhood do not help those of us who think we are failing miserably because we don’t measure up to some unattainable image. It’s like thinking that the airbrushed images on magazine covers are actually of real people. It’s the stupid idea of the yummy mummy. What? I have to be an organic, earth mothering, homeschooler AND sexy too?

Depressed or not, stop looking at crap about mothers and reading crap about motherhood. Love yourself and your imperfect bumbling attempts at raising your child. Laugh when you screw it up. Laugh at others who reckon they don’t. Cry if you need to. Say sorry to your kids and forgive yourself. Know that you are the only person who is qualified to be the mother to your child. And rock your stained and slightly grey used-to-be-white bathrobe. All day if you want.

 

Honesty breeds honesty

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Amazing what a difference (not even) 24 hours makes. Since my last post I have had many very kind messages of support and appreciation. But best of all, two honest comments from friends who have felt the same. One who wonders why he can’t just ‘smash them’ just this once and another from a friend who says “Yeah, have had thoughts of killing them and of killing myself, not to mention thoughts of drinking just enough bleach to land in hospital for a few nights of sleep.” And this without one bit of guilt or shame, said so matter-of-factly, it made me wonder why I’d left out that I’d looked at one twin gagging (which at the time I thought was choking) and wondered, what if I don’t do anything and you die? Will I be sad? 

These comments were from very normal, very loving parents, kind, caring people who were honest enough to say that sometimes parenting just doesn’t ring their bell. I came very close to heavily editing last night’s post. Then after publishing I felt very, very anxious about what I’d ‘put out there’. The comments from my friends, in an instant, took all of the shame and guilt away. Made it OK to even laugh about it a bit.

What I know today is this.

I’m not the perfect parent.

I never will be.

I am certainly not alone in my dark thoughts.

I’m OK, I can still laugh, function and be good company.

Nothing will get better if I just sit and wait for it to get better.

Listen

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Most sources say that somewhere between 10% and 20% of mothers experience PPD (Post Partum Depression) in some way. Mothers of multiples are more at risk. What I have found with those I have known who have experienced it, is that they needed a third party to point it out and that only in hind sight were they able to recognise that things weren’t right. I think when you’re in it, it’s pretty hard to tell. You can’t see straight to put the dishes away in the right place, so evaluating your own state of mental health is more than likely well out of reach.

PPD is a bit of a rock and a hard place type situation. Part of the problem is that you’re not communicating openly about your thoughts and feelings. Another part of the problem is that you’d rather pull your own toenails out than communicate openly about your thoughts and feelings. Social isolation is part of the problem, wanting to pull yourself away from social interaction is the other part of the problem. Poor diet, poor sleep, no exercise, feeling crap, can’t be bothered eating well, too tired to sleep, no energy to exercise. Round and round we go.

So here’s the God’s honest truth.

Mothering twins is the hardest damn thing I’ve done in my life.

I have had thoughts of running away and never being found.

When people say things like ‘it’s all SO worth it’, I’m not sure that I agree.

I cry for no reason, often while locked in toilets.

I think about what life would be like if we’d stopped at one. A lot.

I have an adrenaline, stress type reaction to the sound of babies crying, like that tightening in your chest when your body goes into fight or flight mode.

Sometimes when they are crying I look at them blankly, like I’m not sure what I’m meant to do.

Motherhood is not the best experience of my life. It didn’t complete me.

It’s easy enough for the ‘you must seek help’ chorus to say that we should all go and talk to someone. But some of the things I have thought I’m not even gutsy enough to say here. If you’re reading this and shedding a hidden tear, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you are reading this and you do know what I’m talking about, and you are not game to say what’s really behind those tears, then find me on twitter @nancy280710 or message me here. Tweet, email or FB this post to someone you know and let’s talk. I won’t judge you nor will I advise you. But I will say that you are not the only mother ever in the world to have thought these things and it doesn’t make you Department of Child Safety material.

And here’s the rest of the God’s honest truth.

I’m the best person to be a mother to my boys.

I don’t have to justify anything with a preamble of ‘…well of course I love my kids but…’

Sometimes I don’t know how things will turn out.

I am more than a mother.

Mothers who are called, who love it, who wouldn’t do anything else and who are completed by the job are diamonds. I’m not you, it’s OK that I’m not you, but the world without you would be a grey and hopeless place indeed. How awful to even imagine a world without natural mothers. You are the ones who show those of us who struggle in the role the real beauty of the role. Sadly the world sometimes sees you as ‘less’ but surely you are the most.