This word I can’t seem to escape from lately, it’s in the news, on the TV, my social media, everywhere I turn.
This is my breakthrough story.
A chapter in my life that I can now say is over. Really over.
Don’t get me wrong I have odd wobbles. But nothing in comparison.
As you may have noticed it’s
When I was growing up depression wasn’t so out there as it is today.
Depression wasn’t for people like me – the happy family life with siblings, married parents and never went without.
But it got me, it snuck up and took it’s hold on me.
I had Postnatal Depression. And I tried to hide from it.
When did I realise something was wrong?
I can’t remember what triggered it. I just didn’t feel like me anymore.
Spent 6 nights in hospital at 33 weeks pregnant due to my waters breaking; I was fully on my own with other expectant mums either vomiting, giving birth or generally being dramatic.
Maybe it was I didn’t get to hold my daughter long enough after birth before she was taken from me and rushed off to the Special Care Baby Unit.
No book or leaflet advice comes close to preparing you for a premature birth. She was tiny, sick and I couldn’t hear what the doctors and nurses were saying.
Or maybe it was when she finally came home and my partner went back to work. I knew how to take care of her – the support from SCBU staff was better than any parenting book I’ve read but now I was completely on my own.
What does it feel like?
Everyone’s experience is different. For me, it felt like I was on a never ending rollercoaster. I had really good days and days were leaving the house just seemed impossible.
I had anxiety over everything; did I switch the lights off, the gas hob, shut the fridge (it’s always shut anyway!?), the windows, even the front door.
I questioned my ability to be a good mum, deep down I knew I was, but these niggling thought kept me doubting myself.
My relationship with my partner was suffering too.
I was hiding behind a mask of myself when out in public.
I used to take my daughter for late afternoon beach walks, I told myself and others it was to settle her which was half the truth. My head was telling me I need to escape.
Escape what? I still can’t answer this.
What I wanted was me time, but in reality I was so worked up that I couldn’t relax.
When did I finally admit that I had a problem?
It all came to a head on Christmas Eve 2015. Our family dog was unwell leading up to Christmas, we had an appointment booked. My anxiety to clean wherever he went was getting extreme – I didn’t want anyone else to get ill.
That day my partner go up in the early hours to find our dog had passed away in our bathroom.
I then found myself in like a pilot mode, searching out of hours numbers for vets, making tea, getting my partners best friend to come over.
That afternoon I was a mess. I needed to escape from the house. Reality of what had happened was too much to bear.
I was in a dark place, everything made me cry or angry. In the middle of studying for my next exam the first week of January. I felt like I had fully lost control, my mind was in a fog.
When did I seek help?
Enough was enough. On the afternoon of my exam I had pre booked a doctor’s appointment, I very nearly talked myself out of it. Waiting to be seen I was still trying to avoid why I was here.
I saw a doctor who I was familiar with. I burst into tears before I could shut the door. My first words were “I think I have depression”.
We talked about why I thought that.
I told him everything that happened over Christmas and before. I told him how not everyday was bad, but I just feel like I’m losing control, that I’m not the model mum everyone else seems to be. How being a new mum didn’t start how I imagined.
He listened, truly listened to me and my ramblings. He made me feel normal, that I wasn’t being silly and most importantly he said he was glad I was here even if it took me 18 months to walk through the door.
I had made the decision to stop travelling down this path, to shut the door and to find me again.
The New Me
This new me has a daughter, a partner and a loving home. The old me had all those things with a big dark cloud over me that went wherever I did.
The doctor advised me to take citalopram due to the length of time I had been feeling like this. He said it’ll help my hormones to level out. The downside was that they take time to work.
He said I shouldn’t feel ashamed and suggested I told close family and friends for support. Which I did. If you are reading this – thank you, for all you guidance, for listening to me and for not judging me.
I left with the prescription and a follow-up appointment for 3 weeks time where we’ll discuss how the tablets are going and if I needed to speak with a councillor.
Started the tablets in January and by the summer I was weaned off them. I have odd moments when things get too much, but I have support from family and friends who understand and I know how to manage it.
Speaking out about my postnatal depression has been one of the hardest posts I’ve written.
I’ve rarely come across a story of postnatal depression with a premature baby.
It is common, just maybe not as well known in the media.
Looking back if I had been braver I could have handled this sooner.
If your reading this and feel anyway similar please speak to someone, don’t hide away. There are many different ways to treat depression and you are not alone!