Updated: Aug 20, 2020
Till today when I think about my sons 1st year after birth I feel that I have overcome one of the hardest times of my life. There is unspeakable happiness in those memories, but there is also the anguish of a secret darkness that I carried within my mind, never allowing anyone to share my burden.
5 years ago Post natal depression took away my chance to fully enjoy my infant son without continuous, persistent and unbearable worry. It wasn’t the kind of worry that all new moms experience when we bring home our tiny baby. It’s normal to have some anxious feelings when you realize that you have to help a little person do everything and that their future is in your hands but this was something else. Every day for several months, I dealt with intense anxiety that caused a physical fear response in my body. This fear sometimes kept me up the entire night to see if my baby breathing. It started on the 1st day he was born where I did not sleep at all in the hospital and went on for months.
My post natal depression affected me so badly, to a point where I was obsessive over my son. It was tremendously hard for me to let anyone including my husband do anything for him and although I did allow my mother to help me I used to sit and wonder the whole time that she had him if he was ok and constantly checked up on him. At 5 months when my son was diagnosed with allergies allergies and a tongue tie, I continuously blamed myself, imagining how I would ever be able to continue to live if he always has allergies that is so severe. I convinced myself it was my breast milk that caused all the problems and stopped at 6 months and it was all my fault for not picking up he had a tongue tie.
Somehow, I convinced myself that this anxiety and guilt could work in my favour. How could I ever let anything bad happen to my baby if I was so, so obsessive? I never even asked for help because I thought if I admitted that I was afraid of losing him, everyone would assume I was having thoughts about harming my baby, and someone would take him away from me.
Once or twice, I reached out to my husband during severe anxiety attacks but he did not understand what was happening and he could not support me. He had no idea how intensely I was struggling every day. Nobody knew what was happening inside my mind.
As long as it was the day time, I could latch onto a little bit of hope that my healthy baby was going to be okay. I never once admitted the more terrifying thoughts to my doctor, my husband, my mum or my brother. They all knew I had PND but didn’t have any idea how bad it was.
Post natal depression stole my mind from me and stole those precious first few months. Instead of just enjoying my son, I hung on to the moments like I was going to lose him. Appreciation is important, but this wasn’t appreciation, It was an sickness, and I deserved help! I wish I had asked for it but there wasn't much available.
I suffered for about ten months before the fog just kind of…cleared up. I don’t know how else to explain it. I just started feeling a little bit better each day until I was myself again. . Postpartum hormonal changes can be hell on a body. I am so sad that I lived in hell for no reason. There was help for me. I asked for help from my OB who gave me anti depressants which made me feel worse and my husband was dead set against me taking the medicine as he felt I would get addicted to it and that this was a mind over matter issue which I should preserve through. Once again I could not blame him as he didn’t know what I was going through and he didn’t realise that depression is an unseen illness. Eventually I stopped the medication and sought the help of a homeopath who understood exactly what I was going through and assisted me with balancing out my hormones and sorting out the depression. Without some form of medical intervention I would not have overcome it.
About 2 years ago, I was blessed with another baby... This time a little girl. Of course, I am looked forward to meeting this baby who would complete my family with the perfect pigeon pair, but I also dreaded the arrival of the dark cloud of horror that felt inevitable to me.
I didn’t want to suffer that way again. I have my son and a little baby who deserved a mother who could make rational decisions for them. I owed it to my kids to make sure I did everything in my power to stay mentally and physically healthy this time. And most importantly, I owed it to myself to stop telling myself that I can “power through” a mental health crisis.
The second time around, I decided to get ahead of it. I had a conversation with my husband, telling him exactly how I felt and what added to my post natal depression. I saw the pain on his face when I admitted how bad it was last time. He had no idea it was that bad and explained to me how over whelmed he was as well with the added financial pressure and the caring of a new human being and all the moods he had to endure from myself. I was so relieved to have him in my corner this time. The best thing was communicating with him and him understanding me and giving me his support.
Instead of trusting myself to be able to deal with this alone, I chose to bring it up with my OB early in my pregnancy. She made a note to go over some options with me closer to the birth. I also told her how after the birth of my son I told the OB how my emotions were and he prescribed anti depressants for me which I felt made me feel worse and eventually I stopped it with the assistance of a homeopath who helped balance my hormones and treat the depression. During my pregnancy I took homeopathic supplements. I am by no means a person who does not believe in conventional medication and I do use it but for my depression I feel homeopathic medication helped. At every appointment, my OB and homeopath asked how I was doing and I was honest. Unfortunately during my second pregnancy I lost my father and father in law within a span of a month which made my emotions spiral as it was the most difficult time with both my husband and I grieving the loss of our fathers, but with the help of a psychologist and the homeopaths medication, I over came the emotional turmoil before giving birth and did not experience depression.
Post natal depression took a lot from me the first time around. I couldn't guarantee that it would all be perfect the second time around, but I knew I could not let myself suffer like that again without putting up the fight of my life. And the second time it was beautiful!!! I breast fed my daughter for 18 months and both my kids have a happier less stressed out mum!