Being a mum for the first time was so fantastic and I absolutely adored him. However, 4 months after having B, I was diagnosed as having PND - Post Natal Depression. I was really poorly with it. I remember after giving birth, looking at the leaflet we were given about the signs of post-natal depression. It was of a miserable looking woman, badly dressed who seemed very sorry for herself - that was not how I looked or thought I appeared.
B was a difficult baby but I did not resent him for it, I did not feel angry or cross at him at all. However, I did feel an absolute hatred for myself. I could not stand who I was or how I looked and I certainly did not feel I deserved such a precious gift of this perfect baby. I had thought I would just fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes and hated this disgusting fat body I was left with. I thought that with motherhood I would be complete but I did not. I thought it would fill a hole that I felt had been empty my whole life. Even though I filled it with good grades, promotions, fairytale wedding, nothing could even touch it.
In hindsight, I had been depressed a long time before I was pregnant but I believed depression happened to 'other' people. I thought depression was for people who couldn't leave the house or were older, or who didn't like how their life had turned out and I thought PND was for people who didn't love their baby. I certainly had a lot of preconceptions of depressed people, PND and I had very strong expectations and ideals of parenting.
At this point I was not a christian, my friends did not have babies and were moving along in their lives doing what young people did. My family was not around as we had moved away for university and jobs - I felt very alone. It was at the point where the depression was also physical - walking up the stairs to our home felt like such a task, especially carrying our baby. I didn't want to leave the house as the stairs were painful to manage, my body just ached. At one point I was self harming and was in such confusion. I wanted to live and see my precious baby grow but as the same time I could not stand myself. I wasn't good enough to have this child. After an argument with my husband, I was in self harm mode. Jon forced me to stop and seek help. The following day I spoke to my health visitor and saw a doctor. I was put on antidepressants and received some counselling from the health visitor for about 6 weeks until I was stable.
I felt ashamed telling family members and tried to explain my feelings of anxiety over their visits or going out but I just felt it made the situation worse. They took it personally - as though they had done something wrong. They hadn't, I was just poorly and couldn't explain myself very well. It was really difficult for all of us to understand.
When the medication brought me a level of stability. I felt ready to fight it - I am a fighter and was not going to be brought down by this. Although the feelings of hatred were still present, I felt I could overcome the depression with medication, exercise and going out meeting new people, regardless of how I was feeling. A post-natal support group had started up at our doctors surgery and I decided to go along. I felt determined to get better. I'll post about the recovery soon...