So, I am useless as fuck and haven’t written in a long time.
A lot has happened and changed in the last 8 months. I think around the time that I wrote my last post, Johny and I had split up and I was seriously struggling. Things got so bad that we ended up back at Mothercraft (hospital ward where you stay with your baby when they won’t sleep/feed/etc) and the rest is a blur. All I know is that I ended up on anti-anxiety and sleep meds plus an increase on my depression meds. It was not a good time in my life, definitely a major low BUT it didn’t last as long as I thought it would. I had to get Johny to take Sienna for a few days because she was crying all the time and I couldn’t handle it. I would break down the minute I heard her cry, to the point where I felt like I couldn’t get back up. I wanted to crawl under the blankets and never come out. I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything unless I absolutely had to, I was alone with Sienna day in and day out and I just got to the point where I knew I had to ask for help or else I would end up driving myself into the ground, or worse.
I am still shocked at how difficult it was for me to get the help I needed. I was under maternal mental health from 20 weeks pregnant onwards, yet no one could do anything unless I exaggerated and said I was scared I was going to hurt my baby (I most definitely wasn’t, but I was so desperate for help at that point). I felt like there was no way out and I didn’t think I could get through it. I certainly didn’t think that I would still have some really dark days even when I thought I was “over” the worst of it. Postnatal depression (and anxiety) is talked about a lot more often, but I’m not sure that it’s always understood or accepted. I think it’s vital to talk openly about mental health and your every day struggles because it can in turn encourage others to ask for help, and expressing your emotions in a healthy way can really make a difference to the feeling of being completely alone and isolated. This post is in no way a cry for help (I’m already getting help) and it is certainly not to make people feel sorry for me. This post is to add to mental health awareness, and the purpose of it is to share my story in the hopes that maybe it will reach someone who has been struggling but feels like there’s no way out or feels as if they are a burden to other people. I know that in my worst moments I have thought no one would understand (and a lot of the time they still don’t, but they WILL listen and they will be there to do whatever they can to help). I was almost too proud to ask for help, but over time I realised that it was not worth the cost of hurting myself or someone I loved (emotionally as well as physically, whether intentional or not).
So over the weekend just gone, I managed to stuff up my medication and ran out of tablets four days before any pharmacy would be open (and I had no idea at the time that you can actually order an emergency prescription in these situations). So I cut my tablets in half and tried to make them last. I had two days without antidepressants and I felt the effects almost immediately. I didn’t even realise until I sat down at the end of the day that my emotions had gotten the better of me. I was teary, I couldn’t handle the sound of Sienna crying and whinging (I can’t handle it very well even on a good day! Something only a Mum can understand), and I felt myself getting frustrated and angry over what seemed like the smallest things. I had to physically walk away and remove myself from the situation before I lost it. It’s really difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t been through it – but I get to the point where I am aware that I’m being unreasonable but I can’t do anything to control it. My mind works overtime, and I tell myself that I’m an awful parent, that I can’t do it and that I just wasn’t cut out to be a Mum. I try to reason with my thoughts and overpower them with other thoughts like “you’re just having a bad day, everyone has bad days, you can do this and you will get through it just like you have every other time” but unfortunately when you are depressed, your thoughts and your emotions don’t always reciprocate each other.
I’m okay now – I’m back on my meds properly but the scary part is that I thought I would be fine without them – I’m definitely not. A friend said to me today, “it’s a shame that there’s such a stigma around mental illness and medication because you wouldn’t tell someone with high blood pressure that they don’t need medication” and she is so right. It’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. Unfortunately giving birth, becoming pregnant, looking after a child, relationship stresses, general life stresses and many more factors can make you more susceptible to this imbalance. But at the end of the day, if medication works for me then I am going to continue to use it. I also know that better nutrition, regular exercise and taking time to care for myself will help my mental health. But, I know that for me, those things alone are not enough to keep me from falling back into the trap that is PND. Plus, being a Mum (or parent in general) literally means you put yourself second to the needs of your child/children. Of course there are going to be times when you just don’t have the time, means, or energy to just “get over it” and “suck it up”. We need to not feel ashamed when asking for help. Or, feel ashamed but do it anyway. Whether it’s for your sake, your child’s or someone else’s. Please just ask. And keep asking if you don’t get the response you were hoping for.
Also, sorry but this post is a wee bit rambly as there is just so much to cover when it comes to mental health. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I’m an open book, and I promise I will be brutally honest. I also promise that next time I won’t be so serious and morbid haha, it’s just something you can’t really joke or be light-hearted about.