This morning a complete stranger stopped by me in a hospital cafe while I was waiting with my three children and breastfeeding my youngest. She had been sitting at a nearby table so initially I thought my children had been too loud/annoying. She stopped to tell me I was amazing for breastfeeding my youngest with two older children. I’ve recently been struggling. Struggling with Post Natal Depression (PND). That one comment meant more to me than that lady will ever know.
So what five things have I learnt from PND?
- Admit it. I knew I wasn’t right at 8 weeks post-partum but soldiered on. I just need more sleep. I just need to eat more fruit and veg. I just need to realise that no matter what I do it won’t alter a thing. I got help at 12 weeks when my life was five or ten minutes with a school run face on and hours feeling empty or crying.
- It has no reflection on your ability to parent. I’m still a bloody good Mum, and I still was I was just an ill good Mum.
- PND affected my let down. My youngest dropped two lines in his growth curve and his weight was gaining more slowly than before. Seven weeks later on anti-depressents and he’s gaining weight like a trooper again. And I can feel that stinging tingling feeling at let down again.
- If you need to hide away; do it. But sometimes forcing yourself to do something or go somewhere can be a positive thing. I hid for about five weeks before I felt strong enough to start re-gaining my own life. The first few times I would cry afterwards: in relief at having done it and despair at feeling like that.
- I’m not alone. And neither are you. If you walk past 6 mothers in the street, 1 will have PND. You can’t know which one. It might even be you.
If you think you have PND – reach out to someone. You might think they will make light of it or tell you to snap out of it, and yes they might. But they might also understand and push you to get help. Be kind to a Mum you don’t know at the play group or park. Your kind words might make their day or make them feel less lonely.
Nearly 9 years ago when wandering around our village just after moving here I took a wrong turn. I smiled at someone outside their house. It was a dead end. I had to walk back past the same lady on her doorstep feeling very stupid indeed. She said hello and some other comment I don’t remember now. That lady is now one of my closest friends and that moment has always stuck with me.
Life is Good Again
My husband, family and friends have got me through mine. I’m a bloody good Mum. I’m just a bloody good Mum on anti-depressants for another six months. If you pass me on the street I bet you wouldn’t guess.