This post was originally published on the 4th July 2011 on the website Mums on the Go. With Mums on the Go closing down in March 2016 I wanted to ensure this story was preserved. I believe that it is only by sharing our stories truthfully and openly that our path, as mothers and women, becomes easier and less lonely.
This is my story …
Before Easter I took myself to the GP because I was finally ready to tell say to someone … “I am not OK and I need some extra support”.
For at least 8-10 weeks prior to that I had been questioning my emotional well-being but kept thinking things like “When Maddison sleeps through the night I will feel better” or “When I get used to running Mums on the Go alone I will feel better” – and those things would occur but I still would not feel better. However, instead of seeking help early I kept waiting for things to get better … and then when I did start thinking about a visit to the GP I would say to myself “next time one of the kids are sick I’ll make mention of it” – only problem with that is my kids almost never get sick enough to see a Dr.
Then one day I finally got sick of “waiting”, I was sick of feeling so bloody awful, and so I went to see my GP.
So what exactly was I feeling? I find it quite hard to put into words but the best I can do is say I basically felt deeply sad/miserable all day, every day … week in week out. No matter what nice or fun things might be happening around me I still felt desperately down. But because I am very good at putting on “a face” I was also very good at hiding this from everyone around me.
Feeling this deep sadness was confusing because I didn’t know “why” and it also made me feel quite detached from my children and my husband.
I wondered if I had Post Natal Depression, I did some reading online and thought “maybe I do but maybe I don’t?” – none the less I was no longer willing to feel like this and didn’t know how to change it alone.
At the end of my appointment with the GP he asked me if I thought I was depressed and I paused before I said “I don’t know, that is a pretty big label to give myself. What I can say is I am a woman with a young baby and a toddler, who is not coping emotionally and I am self aware enough to say I need some help. But if you look at the checklist in any PND brochure of the possible signs of PND … if there are 8 listed I can strongly identify with 5 of them”.
I didn’t ask him if he thought I had Post Natal Depression, I think to be honest I wasn’t sure if I wanted that to be the verdict.
A plan was set up for me to have some sessions with a clinical Psychologist. My first session was absolutely horrid. Within the first 5 minutes I felt totally judged by the psychologist, she didn’t appear to actually listen to anything I wanted to say, decided I was “just exhausted” and spent the next 30 min talking AT me not actually having a conversation with me. I was stunned. So when she made mention of “our next appointment” I politely told her I would not be coming back to see her.
I cried all the way home. I realised that I had been so hopeful that that day was going to be the start of feeling better and I had left feeling even worse than before.
It took several week of asking for recommendations, making phone calls and so forth before I had another appointment with a new Psychologist but I am pleased to say I have found someone I connect well with, who doesn’t make me feel judged and actually listens to me. I am pleased to say I am slowly but surely beginning to feel a little better and am sure that at some point not too far down the track I will feel like”ME” again.
The funny thing is that at no point has anyone said to me “You have PND” or “You don’t have PND but what you’re experiencing is XYZ”.
So does it really matter? Well, yes and no.
Not having a label for my feelings and experience has actually made it harder to talk about with other people. I feel like it would be easier to share what I am going through if I could say to people “I have Post Natal Depression blah blah blah”. I don’t say that because I think I probably don’t have Post Natal Depression but I have no other label to use. Somehow I feel that if this is not Post Natal Depression then people will not realise how significant this has been in my world, and my family.
So why have I shared all of this in my blog today? One of the core values of Mums on the Go is transparency and authenticity. I wanted to share so that if anyone else is wondering if they have Post Natal Depression and perhaps think that what they are experiencing is not “bad enough” to seek help or label as PND then perhaps you will still consider asking for help.
At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter what the label is … if you are questioning yourself about your own well-being that is the only reason you need to speak up. You know yourself better than anyone and no matter how big or small you think your experience is you still deserve to be supported.
We might be “supermums” but that doesn’t mean we have to travel this path alone.