I never expected to be diagnosed with post natal depression, I knew of it of course but during my pregnancy I was so excited and happy to be having a baby. Everything was going great and then I had Michael. It was literally hours after he was born, when I was sitting in the hospital bed alone and trying to breastfeed desperately that the tears fell. I was so emotional and I could not understand why. At first I put it being down to staying in hospital(I hate hospitals but then who loves it!) and yet the tears continued when I got home.
I bonded with Michael and loved him but still I resented him. My partner returned to work and suddenly I was left with this new baby and I missed my old life and sleep! I was either in an awful mood or I was crying and it was in this time my partner and I argued the most. He had no idea how to deal with me or what to say. It was so out of character for me. I felt useless, like I was nobody anymore. I knew I should have gone to the GP or my health visitor straightaway but I admit I was scared. I was scared they would look at me and think I was a bad mother and that I could not cope with my son.
Then there was one night where I was up countless times with Michael. I could not get him to settle and I felt like the worse mother in the world. My partner at the time was working night shifts and with hindsight he should never have agreed to them when Michael was a newborn. I went into the bathroom, picked up a razor blade and seriously thought about harming myself in some way. It was the moment when I then heard Michael cry that I knew I needed help, I couldn't continue as I was and hoping it would get better on its own. I went to the GP and was prescribed antidepressants and counselling. I was on the antidepressants for a good couple of months and it was only when my son reached around 10-11 months that I truly felt I was starting to regain some of the old me back and started reconnecting with my partner.
Some days I did not even want to get dressed and that was ok. Depression is like a black cloud above you, it affects everything you do and is difficult whatever time of life you get it. A new born only heightens it, you are sleep deprived and have this little person depending on you. Katie Hopkins recently talked about people on antidepressants telling them to quote "get a grip". Well sorry Hopkins if I was able to get a grip I would have indeed got one.
Her quite honestly ignorant comments show that there remains a stigma about depression and other mental health conditions. I am not ashamed to say I suffered from post natal depression. It was awful but I got through it. There should be more awareness and education about post natal depression. It does not mean you are a bad mother or person. With help you CAN get through it, even when it seems you can't.
Now Michael is nearly two, and I feel much happier but I admit I look back to the depression with sadness. I feel sad that I did not enjoy my son as a newborn as much as I could have. I look back and it is a blur, it passed so fast and those days of him as a newborn are gone. I feel regret that it took me months to get the help because I was scared. I can only comfort myself that I now enjoy my son everyday(not all day, he is a difficult toddler after all!) but I am able to be happy with him and enjoy spending the time with him. It helps I think that he now sleeps through the night and I was able to regain some of myself when I went back to university. Some time away from your child and some decent sleep are amazing!
If you do feel you are struggling and suspect you have post natal depression, I would advise you to seek help from your doctor or a health visitor. They will understand, be sympathetic and most importantly help you. Also talk to your family and friends, don't suffer in silence. Someone to talk to and someone to watch your baby while you have some time to yourself can help a lot. Most of all be gentle with yourself.