Postnatal Depression is not something you want to be labelled with when you become a mum.
But I feel it is stamped on my forehead and the whole world knows that I am suffering from it and that I needed help.
I feel guilty that I needed help but I am glad that I ate my pride and asked for it.
I am a mother to a 2-year-old son and a 6-month-old daughter. My postnatal depression was triggered, in my opinion, by my daughter suffering from silent reflux.
During my stay in hospital after my daughter’s birth, I noted that my daughter was crying a lot more than a ‘usual’ baby. It didn’t sound like a normal cry. It was very hoarse.
I questioned the nurse before we were discharged about my baby’s cry and the nurse told me it was normal. I was sent home after four days in hospital. Heading home was a real shock. I now had a toddler and a newborn. I think reality set in. The first few days were a blur. My daughter would scream at least 16 hours a day and it wasn’t a normal cry. It sounded like she was being murdered.
She would even cry and sulk in her sleep. It was completely heartbreaking. My husband and I had to spend every waking moment (and more) holding her, bouncing her, rocking her and sleeping with her in our arms. Guilt started to set in. Why couldn’t I settle my own baby? I felt I was neglecting my toddler and unable to perform my usual household duties. Am I a failure?
We took our baby to the hospital’s emergency department four times before she turned 2 weeks old just to be shown the door with a referral to a sleep school and told that every baby cries. We felt we had no one to turn to – we were both struggling to keep ourselves together and be able to have the energy and strength to keep happy for our toddler. In the end, Google was our saviour and we located a gastro paediatrician. Our daughter has now been diagnosed with silent reflux and is on the appropriate medication – which has worked wonders.
However, even though I now had a happy, healthy baby and a happy striving toddler – I still felt hollow, empty and extremely down and sad inside.
I put on a brave face each day – went to Playgroup, shops, library, cleaned the house, cooked dinner and just ran like a machine. I constantly had a tight feeling just below my throat and it felt like I was going to break down and cry. My mind doesn’t stop, it doesn’t stop thinking, it doesn’t stop analysing and it doesn’t stop searching. It also doesn’t stop questioning.
Is this my life?
Is this what I was put on earth to accomplish and I am doing a sh*t job of it?
Am I doing the right things by my kids?
Why am I so sad and tired?
Why can’t I accept my husband’s affection?
My husband knew that I was unhappy and helped me out every day with the kids as much as he could – before and after work. But he was also giving me space as I would just snap at the smallest of conversations, was very defensive and would just be generally unhappy. Then one day I just snapped.
The kids were in bed and I just started bawling my eyes out. My husband comforted me and gently told me that I had to see a doctor to get some help. He said that it was very hard watching me go through what I was going through by myself and not accepting his help.
I felt embarrassed and ashamed but knew deep down that he was right. I did not feel comfortable admitting my feelings and troubles to our family GP, and decided instead of seeing a doctor down the road. My husband and my kids came to the appointment with me.
As soon as I admitted that I needed help, and after questioning and advice from the sympathetic doctor, I was prescribed anti-depressants.
It is only the start of my journey as I have only been on the anti-depressants for two months.
My husband, mum, brother and a very close friend of mine know that I have been prescribed anti-depressants and are very supportive. I wouldn’t have been able to admit that I need help and go on this journey without them and their support and love.
Every day I wish that my PND would disappear, that I could finally look in the mirror and say ‘I’ve beaten you and you will never take me on again’. Hopefully this day will come soon.
If you become concerned about any symptoms please seek immediate medical attention – we have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice – http://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/
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