Motherhood: It's Not All Fun and Games... The Big D is Real!
Life is full of joy, but you have to take the bad times with the good. We all experience pain from time to time; it's about how we deal with this pain that determines how we continue through our lives.
My postnatal depression is not something I've discussed with anyone other than my husband until now. But it's real. I have been there. And it's not nice.
I found, after the birth of Ollie, that parenting is completely overwhelming without a huge support network. I didn't exactly expect the troops to come rallying around me, but I had read lots of books, which advised me to let 'them' do your washing, make your dinner, take the baby etc. I've since wondered who 'they' are? My husband returned to work three days after I had Ollie, because he had to. My mother works. My sister lives in Australia. My brothers both had their own family. And friends had their own lives! I will also add here that I am probably not the easiest person to help as I ALWAYS say, "I'm Grand".
My sister-in-law was fantastic. She has three boys, she had been there and had experienced the highs and lows and she was a great 'go-to' friend. She didn't work Fridays and invited me for lunch every week. She was an angel. I lived for these dates. It seems so simple now, but it meant so much. I think of my sister miles away and wonder how she survived this initial shock to the system on the other side of the world. I think of my friend who had a baby at 18 and I wonder... how? How did she do this alone as a single mother?
Post-partum depression didn't hit me straight away, it slowly came into play. I didn't know what it was. I was happy with my life but crying inconsolably on the inside. I was planning my wedding and had so much happiness in my life but all I could feel was sadness. I loved my baby, my fiancé and my life, so this was an inexplicable sadness. I felt I couldn't tell anyone, they wouldn't understand.
Why was I sad? I had everything I wanted! But, that's exactly what post-partum depression is, it's inexplicable. You have this teeny tiny ball of joy in your arms that you love and adore, yet you have tears streaming down your face. It was unexpected, to say the least! I was always a get-up-and-go person and this knocked me for six. I didn't want to 'get up and go'... anywhere. I struggled, but I put on a brave face. I think those closest to me will be shocked by this.
This time with Hailey was very different, I have had up and down days, but not like before. However at my check-up with the health nurse I decided I would be very honest (unlike I was with Ollie) and I would tell it as it was and explain that some days I just wanted to cry. I'm not sure if any of you experienced the new questionnaire the health nurse gives you, but I don't remember filling it in on Ollie. Basically you answer some questions on a form based on your mental state and you rank them according to how you feel (one being you feel awful, 10 you feel fantastic).
I was possibly over-honest, and there were quite a lot of low numbered answers. The nurse counted them up and said: 'Hmmm, five. Not too bad, you seem fine'. The end! End of conversation. The form was filled in and filed away, job done!!
We are not always 'grand'. We might look 'grand', we might sound 'grand', but we're most definitely not 'grand'. If you don't feel like yourself, don't ignore it. Get some help, tell your family, tell your friends, they will understand. Mental health is just as important as our physical health. It's okay not to be okay.
Louise Bruton is a mum-of-two and a personal styling consultant. She has been documenting her journey through pregnancy and motherhood in her blog, All Things Lovely. You can also check out her Facebook page here.
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