“I often get asked how did I know I had postnatal depression. ‘How did you know?’
Well the truth is, I didn’t. I didn’t know.
I was drowning but I didn’t know why. I thought I was just tired. Just sleep deprived. I kept saying to myself and to everyone else, if I just got sleep, I’d feel better. People would hint to me all the time that they thought I was depressed. What an ugly word it sounded to me. Postnatal depression. No… I loved my baby, so how could I be depressed?
But I was. I was suffocating. I was literally gasping for air. I was never sleeping. I was crying. I hated myself for every little thing that went wrong. I worried about every little thing going wrong. I worried about dying. I worried about my baby dying. I was sad, I felt numb, I forgot joy, and I learned to be angry.
One afternoon I was rocking my crying baby in his bassinet, feeling like I was bubbling with rage. My hands going white from gripping the bassinet so hard. I shook it harder and forcefully and I screamed “what do you want??!” And I broke. And I picked up my baby and I sobbed. I sobbed so hard.
I hated myself. What kind of mother can’t cope? What kind of mother yells at a little baby? I’ve failed. I can’t do this. I turned it all inside and I decided, I didn’t want to live anymore.
I was embarrassed to tell that story, I felt I couldn’t because what if someone took him away?
But I did. I told someone.
That little baby… that little boy…he’s 3. 3 years old now… a big boy. He just handed me a bunch of crackers and told me I had to come eat it with him on the couch and watch Finding Dory, while I’m writing this, I never imagined we would be here. That we would survive.
But we did. I did it. I did it because in the darkest hole and deepest despair, when I couldn’t sink any lower, the only way was up.
I often get asked what I would say to Mothers, new mothers, seasoned mothers and ones with postnatal depression or anxiety. With 2 1/2 kids now, a chain of psychiatrists, hospital admissions, psychologists and meds.
I would say:
It’s okay. You’re going to be okay. I promise you. You don’t need to beat yourself up anymore. You don’t need to hurt anymore.
I know you feel everything is falling apart at the seams. I know how heavy that weight is, but you don’t have to carry it alone anymore. You shouldn’t have to carry it alone, and you won’t anymore. It’s scary… but if anyone can do it, it’s you.
You are brave, you are strong, you are beautiful. YOU ARE LOVED. Your children love you, they’re proud to call you momma.
You can share your story, you can tell someone. You deserve that. You can keep swimming, you’ll survive this, and you don’t have to feel like you’re drowning anymore.
Not every day is going to be easy, it still isn’t for me. It won’t be easy or perfect, but it’ll be worth it.”
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