Post-partum depression..here's hoping my lost year can save yours.
As a sufferer of gestational diabetes, my second pregnancy brought on sickness and insulin dependency from the second month. I was in and out of hospital for weeks at a time leaving behind my 2.5 year old despite our closeness and her clinginess to me. This, looking back was probably the beginning of my downward spiral as the due date neared I began to feel really guilty and wondered if perhaps I had made a mistake. The labour of princess no.2 was induced and immediately she unleashed a world of un-medicated and unexpected hurt. Several hours and a couple of gazillion stitches later I held her beautiful little body in my arms and felt huge guilt, tiredness and pain. That night, I stayed up all night, staring with a strange fear in my heart that something may happen to take this bundle away from me. I tried to breastfeed her and struggled for hours. I sat in bed sobbing, desperately praying for her to get something and for the pain to stop until a blood sugar test showed that she was now dangerously low and required formula feeding. Tears streamed down my face as I felt a total failure for not being able to feed my own baby.
When we brought her home, no.1 was instantly put out, she was hurt and afraid and so was I. I was now enormously guilty. When no.2 started crying, she did not stop for 3 solid weeks, a doctor visit told me she had acid reflux, further desperate attempts lead me to a chiropractor and at last a little peace.
I stepped out of bed one morning three weeks post-partum and a searing pain ripped through my toes and through my body. An intense, gripping pain out of nowhere. It daily travelled further until I woke with it and lived with it from the roots of my hair to my toenails every single day. I was sure I had a terminal illness. Dr google became my best friend and my enemy. Blood test after blood test didn't help. My anxiety grew larger and larger until I was afraid to enter a supermarket alone in case I dropped dead. I was afraid to be alone with my children and I cried at night afraid I may not wake.
At that point, I realised I had a problem and consulted my GP and then attended counselling. What I kept to myself was to me, the most terrifying. It had started immediately after birth, I was buttering my toast in the hospital and had the most horrific fear.. what if I went mad and hurt the baby. From day one day in day out I was sick as horrific thoughts and fears whirl pooled around in my head. I did not want to hurt my children..the horror was I thought of horrific ways I might go mad and hurt them. I was guilty and horrified and terrified. I kept it to myself afraid they might take me or my children away.
Daily my physical and mental pain grew, I let myself go, what was the point. I stopped doing everything I loved, I pushed people away and argued ferociously at home. I was mad at my husband that he was coping so gloriously and getting away with it..I did the hard work and I was suffering for it. I started to convince myself I was horrible, a no good, crazy mother, a no good wife and worthless to anybody. This became my mantra. I felt like giving in. One dark night as I sat in my living room, sobbing and urging myself to just survive another day, while sinking in my thoughts, I decided enough was enough. The next day I went to the doctor under the guise of my chronic pain and I burst. I told her everything. She was sympathetic but unfazed, she did not press an emergency button or call the social workers or think I was crazy. Instead, she informed me that all of these were very common symptoms of postnatal depression and along with some information and a small dosage of antidepressants sent me on my way. I was relieved but sad that for now 18months I had been cut off, I had tortured myself endlessly and I hid from my husband and babies, the people I love most in the world. In my head I thought they didn't need me, when in reality they really needed me to get better.
Please, if you have post-partum depression or think you may, speak to someone. You may be missing out on precious time. I am finally getting my life back one piece at a time and I am going to make sure my girls and husband know just how important and amazing they really are.