My continuing journey
From the moment Crazy Clare told me about Renee’s blog and sharing her story I considered sharing mine.
Looking back, being down and tired (I still struggle with the word depression) is probably something I have always battled. But once we started trying for a baby, the overwhelmness and anxiety started to kick in. It. Was. So. Hard.
I had spent years trying not to get pregnant, and now I couldn’t. In hindsight, our pregnancy journey was not an overly long or difficult one but mentally I struggled. A lot.
Then I got pregnant, I was so excited. This was our dream come true
My pregnancy and labour were extremely straight forward and ‘easy’. BUT the moment this baby, my baby, was put on me I didn’t feel the described ultimate and immediate bond and love ‘I should have’ felt. This took time for me.
Then he got reflux
When our son was three months old we went off for a planned holiday with friends. For the whole week my baby screamed. All. Day. This amazing holiday we had planned was out the window. I couldn’t settle my baby and in my eyes I was a failure, a crap mum.
Luckily the reflux was diagnosed quickly but I still struggled. I was exhausted. Done. I cried a lot. I felt more and more of a failure. Everyone else seemed to find my baby so easy and I found him SO hard.
Everyone else could cope with this motherhood business but I just couldn’t. I started to resent my husband. I started to shut down. But I hid it.
Fast forward a few years
I’m pregnant with number two, a baby girl. This pregnancy came easily. We brought a new big house for our family. We had it all.
BUT things were falling apart. My marriage was in a very dark place. I was distant. I resented my husband for not being there every time I needed him (to be fair I needed him A LOT). I was tired. He was exhausted.
My memory was shot. My work suffered. I couldn’t cope with everyday life. The feeling of being a failure was huge. I went shopping, spent lots of money we didn’t have to make myself feel better. But still I kept my smile on to others on the outside. Although surrounded by people, I felt so ALONE.
When our son was about six months old two friends came to me. They had seen through the wall I had put up and thought I had PND. They suggested I go to the doctor. Which I did. But I wasn’t honest. I hid my true feelings, put on a smile and assured them, and my doctor, I was fine. Why? The shame. Depression has always something I’ve been scared of, embarrassed of for some reason. I didn’t see it as the sickness it is.
Two years later with a 2.5 year old and a 4 month old things finally came to a head
One day as I was sitting in the bathroom sobbing, listening to my screaming kids I thought to myself, ‘I could just walk out, leave the kids and go’. I wasn’t thinking suicide, that would be way too hard and I was way too exhausted for that. I’d just leave and let them continue life happily as they should. They would be better off without me.
This was my turning point. Suddenly I thought, ‘This is wrong. This is not normal’. I called Healthline, talked to an amazing mental health nurse and I was finally honest with someone about my thoughts and feelings. This started my long healing journey with counselling and medication . . . or happy pills as I like to call them.
I have had people say to me, when in my sometimes blaze manner I mention I have post natal depression (can I still call it that with my babies being six and four?!?), “I didn’t even know you weren’t coping”. I seemed fine.
Some people still don’t even know the full extent of our struggles over the years. Mine is mostly a huge internal battle with myself and my thoughts, that at times I still struggle to completely explain. Then I get ANGRY. I get emotional and I cry. But mostly I just get tired, SO tired. A slow downhill spiral, that at the end leaves me bedridden where the only thing that seems to help is sleep.
There are so many days that my poor husband has come home to a mess. I have started something I don’t have the energy to finish. Or I just haven’t managed to even start it. I can ignore the world around me, my kids, the general house hold madness, I don’t even hear it. I shut down.
This is a continuing journey for me
After the initial diagnoses I have certainly had my ups and downs. When I think I’m on the mend, ‘better’, I often go downhill again. BUT I am lucky . . . there is wine (which we couldn’t live without), my marriage is strong and has recovered from its dark days. My husband is AMAZING, my rock and can even foresee when my mood is getting down. I now get absolute joy from my children and family that took me so long to feel. I have amazing support from my ‘village’ that I couldn’t live without and mostly I have learnt a lot about myself, how to take care of myself and my ‘special needs’.
Some people don’t understand
There are many people that don’t understand my constant and continuing struggles. Maybe they will never understand how hard everyday life can sometimes be. And it’s still out there . . . the ‘Just get over it!’ attitude that only the people who have never suffered and battled can have.
I decided to finally to share my story, my whole honest story, for me (I have found this quite an empowering process!) but also in the hope that it might help just one person that’s struggling through the fog, or for one person to understand a bit more about people living in the fog.
To those living in the fog – be kind to yourself. Do what you need to get better. Drink the wine, dance and surround yourself with the amazing mothers and Queens out there that will help you survive and get through this madness.
Update March 2017: My journey continues….
Well this year for me started off with a bang of motivation and good intentions. I started a 12 week challenge, sorted my eating out, drastically cut back on wine (😱) and started loosing weight. I was feeling amazing. The best I’ve felt in a long time. I was getting back on track.
Then, a downward spiral. A bad flu followed immediately by my grandmother getting very sick, being in hospital and then passing away. At first I thought I was fine, coping. But the downward spiral was kicking in. Exercise faded with excuses of being busy. Wine drinking (my escape) vamped up tenfold.
Then sure enough once it was time to get back to real life again the real struggle started for me. I was tired. Exhausted. Not motivated. Meh. Not coping.
And now, I’m angry. So fucking angry!!! Why me? Why am I so weak that every time something happens, I seem to let this illness beat me. Get me down. I see so many other people going through so much more, a work colleague stoically fighting cancer, friends with long term relationships breaking up and they’re still dealing with life like a ninja. But I just can’t seem to! I’m in bed before my kids every night from the exhaustion of, well, just life. And I hate it. It makes me doubt myself. With questions like am I really depressed or just weak? Why, why, why?!?!?!?!
But then, I guess at least I’m fighting it right….? Well trying to. One small step at a time. It just sometimes feels like a World War III battle. But I will get there. I have too. We all do. And on the positive I guess I’m learning. Learning how to recognise this and what I need to do to get myself back. Learning things do get better. And we all need to remember, remind ourselves in these shit times, that it is an illness. We’re not just weak, as much as sometimes it feels like it. And we will get there. xx