When asked to describe what it’s like living with postnatal depression (also known as postpartum depression in the United States), the one thought that always comes to mind is ‘postnatal depression stole 2 years of my life’. This is exactly how I feel about it. Not only that but it also robbed me of that with my little man.
Looking back it feels like it was an out-of-body experience – it may sound crazy but it’s like you were watching someone else live your life – you know it was you – but it doesn’t feel like it really happened. It’s like a dream that you can vaguely remember when you wake in the morning. Only of course it was all very real indeed. I often sit there thinking did that really happen? did I really do that? It’s very strange having that kind of memory about a couple of years of your life.
I often get asked ‘what do you mean you didn’t love your baby’. Well the truth was I did, I just didn’t realized it as the PND took control of my life. Day to day I just did the bare minimum to survive when taking care of myself. I couldn’t manage anymore as I knew I needed all I had left for my little man. I did not neglect him or his needs – I did that to myself. I never wanted him to suffer so I did instead, I couldn’t sustain the both of us so I had to give – if that doesn’t show love I don’t know what does.
Having postnatal depression does not mean you don’t love your baby, it doesn’t mean you can’t take care of them and it doesn’t mean you’re a bad mum! You can develop depression at any point in your life – the postnatal part just means it happened after you had a child, it is in no way a reflection on you as a mother and it is exactly the same as depression that occurs any other time.
As a suffer of postnatal depression, I find that there is massive pre-conceptions about mums with PND. Many automatically think we do not take care of our babies and try to harm ourselves and them. This isn’t the case for most mums with PND – although it does happen rarely. This is why we need better awareness for postnatal depression – to make sure mums don’t get into the position of feeling there is no-way out.
You get so many leaflets when you’re pregnant about breastfeeding, SIDS, how to take care of your newborn, pregnancy diabetes – the list goes on – however not one on postnatal depression and what to look out for – this would be prefect to give out at your first scan appointment and in the Bounty packs that are given out free in hospital (most in there seem to be about baby products to buy!) It would also be great for dad’s to read so they can keep an eye on the mother postpartum.