Post Natal Depression is a bitch. There, I said it.
I’ve thrown down my gauntlet and I refuse to be nice about her anymore — that black dog is a pain in the behind. I’ve tried numerous approaches: ignoring it, pandering to it, acknowledging its existence yet still ignoring it — and yet the deep seeded horrible feelings that it incites in me still bubble to the surface at any moment, and change my thought pattern to something negative.
It’s terrifying when your own mind acts against you. When you have to watch what you say, because you’ve discovered you’ve gotten into the habit of telling yourself, and your child, that you are indeed a bad mother, that the reason they’re crying is not hunger, boredom or just generally being an infant with teeth drilling through their tiny tender gums, but because they don’t love you, they want a better Mammy. These are not rational thoughts and my rational self knows that this is not true. I have a beautiful son who loves his Mammy and Daddy very much, he’s a very loving little boy and I feel truly blessed to have him. But in the moments where my mind is telling me that he would be better off without me and with another Mammy, sometimes I nod along and agree with that black dog. Even though I know she’s a bitch and she’s doing it to get a rise out of me.
Having suffered with this beast before, I’m finding Post Natal a slightly different beast to deal with — not having the luxury to decide not to go to college or get up in the morning means that I have to listen to the negative commentary running through my brain in little increments through the day, instead of just rolling over and going back to sleep. That said, this time I have a set plan, a set routine, places I have to be and a baby I have to ensure is happy and healthy. This generally winds up with me with some form of baby porridge on my work attire, but that’s okay. Mostly. This time there is medication and a set medical plan; this time it’s being taken more seriously, this time…
Before I was diagnosed I didn’t want to admit that I potentially could have Post Natal Depression. Despite the odds after a dramatic pregnancy and early birth, my son is perfectly healthy and an absolute charmer — you can’t bring him anywhere, he’s a little flirt and manages to get comments from random people when we go out. I’m in a happy relationship, in a beautiful apartment, with a steady job and can definitely count my blessings about a number of things. So why me? Surely depression, proper depression, could only happen to people who had a reason to be sad, a reason to be down. All I had was a bit of tiredness and a sore back — and sure wasn’t there plenty of others with worse? I think thats a typical Irish attitude — which is thankfully changing — the “Sure what are you giving out about? Sure aren’t there lads who’d be glad of what you’ve got”?. Even now that I know its a thing, and a common thing, I find myself berating myself from time to time with an “It could be worse, stop being so weak”. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll be on medication for the foreseeable future, and yet there is a very tiny part of me that growls “Shouldn’t need that. Just get on with it”. But mostly I’m okay. There are a lot more smily days.
Post Natal Depression doesn’t mean you’re weak. It doesn’t mean you’re a lesser mother, or a bad mother, or don’t deserve to be a mother. It means that like many women around you (its surprisingly common), you’re just adding a little extra fight to your daily life. It’s treatable, and admitting to it and getting help is the first step to silencing that Black Dog.
Originally published at www.badmammy.com