A mum's experience of postnatal depression
Last updated: 11/02/2014 12:00
I had my first child in 2007 and it was everything I had imagined.
I had met my husband late in life and like a lot of women I was concerned about fertility. I needn’t have worried at all. Whilst the little man wouldn’t sleep unless he was with me, cried incessantly and had reflux, I sailed through.
I fell pregnant again when he was around 5 months old. Little man number 2 started out rocky. My husband had been given notification of redundancy and I went into labour 2 weeks early. He became stuck and managed to dislodge himself whilst I was being given the epidural. It was a very fast birth, and very painful.
I was in a fog. I had two little ones in nappies and whilst my youngest slept, napped in his own cot and was generally a lot easier, I couldn’t shift the bleak feeling. I constantly cried and convinced myself that it was because I missed the UK so much.
We took a holiday to Spain when he was around 3 months, and to this day I have very little recollection of the week we were there. It was at 8 months that my mum pointed out this was not normal and encouraged me to seek help from my GP. My doc knew me very well and said that PND was the probable cause. We discussed the possibility of medication, but decided to try the counselling route and review in 6 months.
The counsellor was a Godsend. It was a long slog and on more than one occasion I wanted to give up but eventually the fog started to lift. I fell pregnant again but at 10 weeks I knew there was something wrong and had an early scan. Unfortunately I had lost the baby and I fell to pieces. The fog descended again and I felt lower than ever. I don’t really remember much of the next couple of months other than the overwhelming need to try again.
I was very lucky and fell pregnant within a few months. I made sure I carried on seeing my counsellor and checked in with the doctor regularly. When little man number 3 was born, I knew very early on that the PND was there again. I felt like I was in a bubble. Life was going on around me and I was barely functioning.
I saw my counsellor and spent the entire hour in tears. Not an advocate of medication, she encouraged me to see the doctor who prescribed Lexapro in order to kick start the recovery process. I was very nervous taking them. I remember standing over the kitchen sink turning over all the pros and cons in my head trying to decide what to do then I caught a glimpse of my boys and knew I had to do it for them. I was on the tablets for 4 months and then switched to intensive counselling.
12 months on I know I am a lot better and am actually taking part in life, but it still lurks there in the background, this black dog. I have discussed with my counsellor whether I am predisposed to mental illness and there is no definitive answer, this could go soon or could be something that I have to live with for the rest of my life. Either way it will not beat me and when I have a bad day I tell myself it will pass.
I exercise regularly, try and eat a balanced diet (I love coffee, chocolate and red wine, and I don’t deny myself) and get as much fresh air as I can and this all helps. I have a few wonderful friends, not to mention a wonderful husband who know what I have been through, and I confide in them when I have a bad day. The best thing for me is talking, and I do a lot of that!
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