Saskia

Saskia

Well here we go, it starts out in sunny beautiful New Zealand. My husband and I initially moved from the UK in 2008 in search of adventure… better lifestyle… basically chasing dreams. And apart from the odd burst of homesickness, we were loving it. I got pregnant and we were so looking forward to starting our family when my beautiful daughter arrived. It was a long labour followed by an emergency c-section, and I do still wonder now whether this reasonably traumatic start also played a part in the subsequent PND. I also had quite a bit of trouble breast feeding and I eventually I stopped at seven weeks to bottle feed. Yes I felt the usual ton of mummy guilt about that then… I don’t now. It was the right decision for me and my daughter, but I struggled with it at the time. Anyways, apart from the general exhaustion that comes about with a newborn I would say the first 3/4 months all went pretty well.

Then somewhere after the 4month mark (and certainly by 6months) I had taken a real nosedive, my emotions really seemed to spiral out of control quite quickly. I had fits of crying and didn’t know why. I also remember feeling oddly detached a lot of the time, the lights were on but, emotionally speaking, nobody was home. I was excessively irritable with my husband and feeling useless as a mum. My levels of anxiety went through the roof. I had crippling fears where I convinced myself that something terrible would happen… That I would somehow die, or my husband would die, or that when the baby didn’t wake when I expected, that she had died.

Unfortunately for me, at this point PND as an explanation was totally off my radar… maybe because ‘depression’ wasn’t my main symptom. I just put it down to new mum feelings and homesickness and left it at that… and to cut a long story short I got so desperate thinking I was badly homesick that we packed up and moved back to the UK in March 2012. I felt slightly better for a short while but nothing like back to my ‘normal’ self ever. Then it got worse again. I couldn’t really put a timescale on it. When you enter the fog it’s only a light mist, before you know it though it can be so thick it suffocates, or worse, it turns to absolute black. I somehow stumbled across Postpartum Progress one day around that time…

Reading through the symptoms and stories… somewhere in the back of my head a tiny lightbulb went on. I made an appointment to see the doctor who confirmed PND, and I finally felt hopeful that there was a way out. I felt like I had wasted so much of the last 18months of what should have been a really happy time for our little family. But I just had to keep reminding myself, ‘This an illness, and I didn’t invite it in’. The difference at this stage was I finally accepted I was ill. I finally had a name for it… Post Natal Depression and Anxiety. Not crazy. And I was so determined to fight it. I also discovered early in my recovery that sharing does help. I used a PND forum for a while. It was the one arena I truly felt safe to say exactly how I felt without any fear of judgement. Believe me, when PND has you in its clutches, the last thing you need is criticism, or even well-meant words of advice from family or friends who just really don’t get it. Not that I blame them. There is so much misinformation and stigma out there…

So, my daughter turned two the day I started taking antidepressants. I found it hard because I have never liked taking medication for anything. I was just so determined, almost desperate at this point, to do whatever it took to get better. These next few months were tough, mentally and emotionally. I just wanted to get better. But as anyone who has been through that tunnel will tell you, it just cannot be rushed. And you most certainly don’t just pop a pill and feel better. Medication is not the easy option here. I managed my recovery slowly but surely from then on. Some self-help strategies also helped enormously. And I must admit I unashamedly took ‘time out’ for myself to recover, I took offers of help wherever they came from. Recovery takes time. Recovery is about learning to take care of yourself, as well as baby. So I survived. And I share because I feel there are so many others who need to know, like I needed to know, they are not alone. They too will get better.

Skills

Posted on

December 18, 2013

1 Comment

  1. Anne Dodds

    Dear Sas,
    I am so proud of you and sharing your journey and story was a brave and worthy thing to do. I do empathise as I suffer, as you know, from depression, it is difficult to talk about and no matter what is said or done it is our journey that only we can take. Once again I am so proud of your determination and love. Yours Anne x x

    Reply

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