This is my life right now, I am living with post natal depression behind closed doors. No one except Andy, my mum and the doctor knows. I am caught in a place that I am so desperate to get out of and I don’t know how. I think that because I am living in a world where no one knows I am constantly pushing it down inside, desperate for it not to show. Painting on that face that I’ve got so good at painting.
I know I need to change this, it’s not helping my recovery. Talking is good, sharing is good, so why am I so afraid?
The answer to that question is quite simple, I am worried what people will think of me, that I am a failure as a mum, that people will not want to associate themselves with me. All of this is ridiculous I know, but that is how I feel. I think it’s largely down to society and that we live in a world where it’s not ok to say ‘I’m not coping’.
When I had Holly I felt an enormous pressure to show the world that I could cope with two children, especially two children only two years and ten days apart in age. I remember when I was pregnant people commenting that I must be mad to have a small age gap, that it’s going to be tough. I wanted to prove them wrong.
When really I didn’t need to prove them wrong, I know that now. But at the time I didn’t. I remember having days with both girls in the back of the car, Holly only a couple of months old and we were on our way to soft play with friends. I would be crying on the way, panicking about how I would manage with both of them. All these different scenarios of what could happen and how would I cope running through my mind. Getting myself worked up over things that hadn’t even happened yet. Yet, I would pull up in the car park, wipe away those tears and paint that smile on.
I would get comments about how I make it look so easy, when really it was just a lucky day that Holly slept for most of our time there and Alice didn’t have a tantrum. It was never easy and I feel bad that people would think that when really I was dying inside. Wishing the time away for when we could go home and be in the safe environment of our home.
Of course you are probably reading this thinking but Holly is now nearly 2 1/2 years old, surely you are over this. Sadly I lived with post natal depression for nearly two years without being diagnosed.
There was a very clear moment during spring of that last year, where I started to look at my life and seeing it through different eyes. I could see the person that I had become and I didn’t recognise her anymore. This person that hid herself away and no longer made an effort to meet up with friends. To do the bare minimum so that hopefully it wasn’t noticeable. To only spend time with my family where I felt safe.
I could see the effect it was having on my family, the ones that have to live with me everyday. The mum that I had become was not the mum I wanted to be. The wife that Andy had married all but gone. I needed to wake up and do something about it. I could no longer bury my head in the sand, hoping that it would just one day not be there. Because I know deep down that was what I was doing.
At the time I didn’t know it was Post Natal Depression, it wasn’t something that I hadn’t considered as I had Holly so long ago. But then it had been going on since her birth, so really it should have been staring me in the face.
I remember the trip to the doctors, where I had covered it up with a lie to Andy and his mum so that I didn’t have Holly with me. Sat in the doctors waiting room telling myself this is not the time to paint the smile on the face, to be honest with her and lay it all out there. Thankfully my doctor is someone that I felt able to do this with and I know that this had a big part to play in taking this step.
She sat and listened to me, I poured my heart out, the tears falling down my face. The realisation of everything that I was going through hit me hard. We discussed therapy and she gave the details of where I could get help and we talked about medication. I decided medication wasn’t for me. probably another sign of me trying to pretend that I am still this strong person who can beat this. But anyway, she agreed that we would take one step at a time.
That night I spoke to Andy, I think he was almost relived that I had spoken up and not only recognised that I needed help, but taken the steps to do something about it.
It was that night my journey began…
A journey that I am still on and one that has had it’s ups and downs. A journey that I want to take and get to the end of. I know that I will never be complete cured of it, but I know I can get to a better place.
This is me opening those doors and letting people in. It’s time for me to take the next step and go down a path that I’ve been hiding from. This is me and my life right now!