An Open Letter To Anyone Suffering From Post-Natal Depression - The M Word

An Open Letter To Anyone Suffering From Post-Natal Depression

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I know you don’t know me but we already have so much in common. I know exactly how you are feeling. I have been there. I want you to know that you are going to be fine and that you will get through this.

My second child Zoe is five years old now but I remember so clearly the battlefield I faced on a daily basis when she was seven months old. At the time it felt like the battle of my life.

What began as really bad anxiety seeped into every pore of my being until my heart was pounding so loudly and so fast that I couldn’t sleep. Insomnia made the anxiety worse because as you know the fear of not sleeping when you have two small kids is terrifying. And because you are over tired you’re not thinking straight and your thoughts go to all the places you don’t want them to. It is the scariest and loneliest feeling to lose control of your mind, to forget what it’s like to feel normal.

Anxiety and insomnia feed off each other in a psychotic feeding frenzy that can make someone feel totally trapped.

Changing a nappy was like climbing a mountain. Every minute of every hour slowed down and getting through each day seemed impossible. At the time I didn’t know what was wrong with me. It was when I had to take Zoe for a check up with the public health nurse on that morning. I had been awake all night, sweating, heart palpitations, my mind racing 100 miles an hour in a million directions. I was a mess and I was terrified. The public health nurse looked at me and asked me if I was okay. I told her everything. She handed me a leaflet and there in front of my eyes were all the symptoms I had been having. Now with all the online information and so much more written about mental health, even though it was only four years ago, I had never equated how I was feeling with depression.

Anxiety is like a fire, trying to figure out why it’s happening is like adding more fuel.

I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to function as a mom, that I was failing at doing the most important job in the world. I would wake up and become engulfed by a feeling of dread as to how I would get through the day. Anti-depressants and drugs can help but for me talking therapy worked. My public health nurse contacted my GP who put me in touch with an amazing counsellor in Cork.

I just want you to know that I never thought I would feel normal again. In the past four years I have done things I never would have thought possible. When Zoe was one we emigrated to New Zealand from Cork. I moved to the other side of the world leaving friends and family behind. Yes it was hard but it wasn’t as hard as fighting post-natal depression when I lived close to everyone.

I want you to know that you will get through this and the strength you will gain will stand to you for the rest of your life.

You may feel like you are at rock bottom, and maybe you are, but the great thing about that is the only way is up. Talk. Find a support group, I used to go to one in Corks maternity hospital. Go online, there is always someone having a worse day then you. You are never alone. It doesn’t matter why this happened to you, what matters is getting you back on track. And believe me when I say you will be a much stronger person and a much better parent because of it.