A real account of post natal depression - by Emma Edwards
Today I put my daughter to bed, went and sat on the couch chatting and laughing, while she grizzled a bit before falling asleep. This sentence means nothing much out of context but was a huge step for me.
I wasn’t hovering by her door, endlessly going back in and checking on her, anxiously standing in the hallway whispering frantically to my husband ‘Is she ok? Should I go back in? Do you think she's hot/hungry/in pain?’ on a loop of worry. Today I felt like I was slowly, slowly closing the door on what has been eight and a half months of second guessing, anxiety, doubt, tears, frustration and feeling like a complete failure. The absolute joys of motherhood battling daily with the horribleness of Post Natal Depression.
I went into my pregnancy aware that I was someone who could end up with PND due to having had depression in the past, and made my health care providers aware of this. I was aware. My husband was aware. My family were aware. But it wasn’t until my midwife asked me ‘how are you doing’ that I broke down and told her. I spent 24 hours feeling like the worst person alive, immensely worried that people were going to think that I would harm my girl. Then I decided that I was going to own this and be brave and it was through Facebook (yeah yeah I know) that I told my world. And I am so glad that I did.
"The support was beyond amazing. I was completely blown away by how many of my friends came forward and said ‘yeah, me too’"
It seems that this was one of the most common things to happen to Mums. I wanted to apologize to everyone I knew who had had kids before me, and I hadn’t understood - I just didn’t know how much your hormones affect you, how you can hear phantom crying and it will slowly drive you round the bend, that you will cry and cry and cry, that breastfeeding is bloody hard at first and hurts, that not sleeping longer than an hour at a time is pure torture. I spent months focused on doing everything ‘right’, and I often wonder if my babies permanent wee frown and worried look is due to her echoing how my face looked for so long.
As modern women we are equally cursed and blessed with our easy access to knowledge through technology. I’m sure I could write a thesis on sleep theory and don’t get me started on Dr Google! But I also couldn’t have made it through these first months of parenthood without the ease of access to my family back home in New Zealand, my relationship with my sisters has saved me over and over again.
I am a member of online forums that support and offer help, and I count those faceless women as part of my support system. I am lucky to live in a small Canadian mountain town which provides a crazy amount of activities for parents, leading me to make good friends in my neighbourhood. I have had to SOS call one who literally ran to my house from hers as I stood outside in tears while my girl continued her five hours of non stop crying.
PND is hard. Motherhood is hard. We ‘know’ this, but the reality of this hardness is different for everyone, and the Instagram perfectness of stylish mamas with cute children doesn’t always offer comfort for those of us who are struggling on a daily basis to just make it through the day. As I emerge out from my fog I am enjoying if more and more, and no longer say over dinner ‘I only cried once today!’ I get scared that it will come back as depression is want to do, but I make an effort each day to care of myself.
I take Vitamin B and magnesium supplements, I try to get outside for walks, I make sure my diet has omega 3 & 6 in it, and I talk. The openness and honesty about how it can be a struggle is what has helped me the most. I have called helplines, sobbed to nurses and spoken to wonderful women who have been there. My husband deserves a goddam medal.
So tonight, when I hopefully manage to not stress, to not cry, to not worry, as my baby falls asleep I want anyone out there who is having a similar journey to be ok with it. To embrace it in all its messy, rotten glory and know that you aren’t alone. Even when you are a thousand miles away from home. And a million miles away from recognising yourself. You are not alone and you are a bloody good mum.
Written By Emma Edwards
Emma is a 38 year old ex New Zealander who still calls Wanaka home (don't we all?!) She now lives in a small mountain town Revelstoke, BC. A lovely, bright, friendly woman with a healthy outlook on life, and healthy living. Emma and her husband didn't plan to have children, but in her words "we are stoaked we did, as she is the best!"
Thank you Emma for this amazing submission. We would love to hear from anyone else out there who has a story they would like to tell. If so get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org