Let's Talk about Post Natal Depression
November 18 – 24 is Post Natal Depression Awareness Week in Australia.
As someone who has experienced Post Natal Depression (PND) this is a great opportunity to share with world the tiniest fraction of what it is like to have this awful mental illness that robs you of the ability to be yourself and enjoy your baby.
The signal that something is not right began when the crying started. I came home from hospital feeling exhausted but happy to be home. I left my sleeping baby with my husband and stepped into the shower to wash the feel of hospital from me and inexplicably started crying.
The next few days I struggled to stop the crying. My husband was baffled, what had brought this on, why was I so upset? I felt like I was trapped in a place where I was not me and through the clear yet impenetrable walls of this place I could see how I used to be but was denied access. The crying went on and early evenings a feeling of dread and panic would settle over me. I was so frustrated, this wasn’t fair, I had everything I wanted yet I felt like I was being tortured from the inside and unable to find the culprit.
The crying eventually abated until one morning at 4am when my son and I were sharing a breastfeed. Together in the silence, no sound except for the soft suck and swallow from his little mouth as he drank, with the soft lamp light bathing the room. No different from any other morning at that time. Except this time, I glanced down at my son and I felt nothing. I felt disconnected from him. I started to panic. I was terrified and started sobbing. I placed my son in his cot and sat on the bed and cried. Looking at him would tear me apart. I could not reconcile in my mind the cold feelings of indifference with the rational part of my mind that was trying to tell me that I did love him and that I was not some sort of monster.
This brought on fresh sobs, what had my innocent perfect little boy done to deserve a mother like me? He deserved everything in this world yet his own mother looks at him and feels nothing. That truly harrowing train of thought made me feel like I was a monster. Misdiagnosed as simply an overtired new mum I was told that PND did not present like this. Time went on and managed to gain control over the awful feelings and start to feel love again for my son. I never felt entirely myself but as long as that pervading sense of panic and disconnection stayed away I was content with that.Continued on the next page