From around 2 weeks after Eli I was born, I started suffering. Really suffering. But I think there are a great deal of misconseptions when it comes to postnatal depression. It isn't always feelings of wanting to harm your baby or worrying you might - it's a HUGE spectrum of things and a HUGE spectrum of feelings.
In reality, I had a fairly traumatic birth due to it ending in an emergency C Section, but when you have a new baby you can't afford to dwell on that and feel sorry for yourself, you have to just pick yourself up and get on with it. Mulling over the details and only focusing on the bad things will not help anyone. However, that being said, I do believe that how immobile I was for the first week of Eli's life did not help. I became incredibly frustrated, felt completely useless as all I could do was feed him and cried endlessly because of this. With Eli himself, I had no issues, I loved him more than anything in the world from the very beginning and have never felt any ill feeling to him (other than oh lord please stop crying after he's been going for 3 hours). All the ill feeling was within myself.
As time went on I felt more and more insecure, self conscious, like Chris would run off with someone else and leave me, like a terrible mother, like I couldn't even find 5 minutes to have to myself (which is untrue, I was putting undue pressure on myself for the house to be perfect too, so spent all my 'free' time doing that), like my body was bizarre and not my own, like if Eli keeps crying I am absolutely going to have a nervous breakdown, like I'm completely alone in the world and like I just want to curl up in a ball and cry. Which I did, a lot.
It's really hard to find the right words to explain how desperate I felt. I can't say I was suicidal because thankfully, it didn't get that far, I just felt so wrapped up in misery within myself that I couldn't see a way out. Eli is thriving and developing very quickly, he is reaching his milestones early and putting on weight like a trooper. Most of the time he is an incredibly content baby and will go to anyone but like I said, the issue was never with him or my feelings towards him, it was very much with me.
Chris was and still is incredible. He is so supportive and loving but even he was very worried about me and how I wasn't coping. He would desperately plead with me to speak to my mental health midwife or my Mum, or anyone, but I refused because being a Mum with mental health problem already, determined not to 'fail' and get put back on my medication meant I was not only in this post natal hole but also RIDICULOUSLY stubborn about the subject.
Writing this post is so hard because it's really difficult to put my feelings into a cohesive timeline as such, so I do apologise if it feels chaotic to read and makes no sense! To the outside world and visitors I'm sure I seemed fine. I'd whack makeup on and a big old smile but as soon as they left I'd be a vacant, distant, tearful mess. I am very aware that 99% of new Mums and Dads feel very overwhelmed with a new baby and being tearful is very much a part of it, but this was way more than that. I didn't know who I was, I had no confidence left, I didn't know how Chris still loved me, I didn't know how I would ever feel good about myself again, I didn't want to see anyone but then I desperately didn't want to be on my own, I didn't want to be away from Eli but then I felt I couldn't cope with being with him all the time - i was a mess.
It didn't help that I had a lot of problems with the healing of my C Section scar. Two infections, two courses of antibiotics, an open hole etc etc, it felt never ending which only added to my misery as I was still constantly having to 'be careful' with what I did physically.
I felt as if all the old insecurities I had as a teenager had come back, I didn't know how Chris could find me attractive, I hated how I looked, I thought everyone else hated me and couldn't be bothered with me, I felt endlessly guilty that these thoughts were consuming me when I had a new baby, I was OBSESSIVELY worried about the fact I wasn't healing well and the list went on and on and on. But i was very aware that this was not to do with my Bipolar. It was an entirely different feeling all together and it went on for weeks and weeks and weeks and I felt this black cloud would never lift.
As lame and cheesy as this sounds, it was in reading Adele's Vanity Fair interview in which she addressed her post natal depression that made me realise I needed to stop pretending I was fine. I read this and cried, cried to myself and cried to Chris and told him how sorry I was that I had refused to speak to anyone. In the coming days I finally opened up and spoke to my Mum about it. As always, she was absolutely wonderful (and had been through my entire pregnancy, labour and since Eli was born) and encouraged me to speak to my mental health midwife.
Now I haven't spoken to my mental health midwife yet and I was beginning to feel a lot better and coping a lot more but then my C Section wound reopened. This only happened a few days ago and it felt like a huge set back, like my healing was never happening. For the next few days I felt like everything was hopeless again but thankfully, it seemed to really heal properly my wound needed to reopen and now it's slowly healing a lot better. I will be speaking to my mental health midwife but I need to work up to that as I am still struggling to accept that doing so is not 'a failure'.
I have the most beautiful, clever little boy whom I adore, I have a loving gorgeous supportive husband, a wonderful family and friends and as hard as it is to see sometimes, I will be fine and I will find myself again away from this cloud. But I don't think it will be who I was, it will be a new self, a different self and that's really ok. All new Mummy's NEED to remember to take time for themselves, even if it's just an hour a week, whether it's having a good nap or taking yourself out for coffee and there is absolutely no reason to feel guilty about that, ever.
If you're struggling, please speak to someone. Anyone. Vent, unload, clear your head. It's terribly hard but so worth it and the more we all talk about postnatal depression, the easier future Mums will find it to open up. It is NOTHING to be ashamed of. You are a wonderful Mother, your child adores you unconditionally and you need to feel the same way about yourself - whether your baby is 2 weeks or 2 years old. Be brave and honest.
Lots Of Love,