+ Well Nourished | Post Natal Depression Support

Post Natal Depression – support one another!

Words by Jane Faulkner

My friend recently got diagnosed with Post Natal Depression, her baby was nearly one and she had had a massive year.  Anyway, she knew something wasn’t right and she went to her GP and got help.

When she told me, I felt myself shrink inside – not because of her diagnosis, but because I too had known she wasn’t okay and yet I had not done anything.  I could feel she wasn’t okay and I had spoken to my husband about it, yet my own feelings of helplessness in the situation I think kept me silent.  My tank of inner resources was empty and I couldn’t get time off to see her.   I was also scared to offend her.  I didn’t want to ask if she wasn’t coping and yet she was dropping huge hints all of the time and still I didn’t know what to do.

It was like there was an unspoken contract of ‘we both know something is not ok, but if we struggle through it, we’ll be fine’.  We are strong, independent women and to be a mum was what she had been yearning for.  It was like we colluded to keep the fantasy of motherhood alive.

I am so proud of her for breaking through all of the taboos and the ‘I am coping crap’ and getting help.  I think I had PND and I didn’t get help.  I just threw myself into keeping up appearances and trying to be the perfect Mum and wife for my new family.

Having a baby, it’s amazing, right?  This beautiful being in front of you, all gorgeousness and vulnerability, totally reliant on you for all of their needs.   For me, it was also overwhelming, exhausting and depressing.  Some days I felt like my soul was dying, I couldn’t feel happy about anything and I felt wrong.

I had a healthy, happy baby, supportive husband, the birth was fine, ya,ya,ya.  I should have been ecstatic, instead, I felt lost.  Who was I now?  I had built a career that I had loved and now it felt like I was worth nothing and I had nothing to offer.  Any sense of self I had had before, was gone.  I felt like I was a wife and mother now and not a separate person in my own right.

I was also isolated.  When I fell pregnant we moved away from my family and friends, and when my baby came, the thought of driving for an hour to see anyone was overwhelming.  I was exhausted and even though I knew getting out would be a good thing, I didn’t have the internal resources to get myself out.

My life-raft during this time was my studies.  I was studying Gestalt Psychotherapy and we had a group every 2nd Tuesday night.  I could take my baby and rediscover or rather uncover me again.  I could freely talk about not coping and how much I was struggling with my husband and being in a relationship that had dropped to a whole new level of authenticity and commitment.

You see before I had my baby, I had avoided showing my husband my unsavory feelings like anger, sadness and frustration.  I could go out with friends have a good bitch, get it off my chest and come home clear.  With a new baby, there was no escape, I had to learn to voice things as they upset me and we had to learn how to communicate and relate to one another.

I think becoming a parent is massive for most people. When I speak to a lot of my friends now, I am amazed at how common feeling depressed postpartum is.  It is so common and yet it still is so unacknowledged in our community.  I remember being at a swimming lesson, my first-born would have been about 7months old.  He wasn’t a great sleeper.  I shared how I wasn’t coping so well and two of the other mums picked up their stuff and moved it to the other side of the room.  I felt totally unsupported and like a total failure.

This is something about women I will never understand- why don’t we back each other?  Why do we pretend everything is ok when it’s not?  Why do we gloat when we see someone else struggle rather than reach out and ask what we can do to help?

This journey taught me many things, the biggest one being to never judge another, and that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have.  It’s also taught me how important it is to ask  “Are you okay?”  Did you know that 1 in 7 Mums are likely to suffer from PND and 1 in 20 Dad’s?

Some helpful resources if you aren’t OK…
Lifeline – Phone 13 11 14
PANDA (Post and Antenatal Depression Association) – Phone 1300 726 306
Beyond Blue – Phone 1300 22 4636
Breastfeeding Association – Phone 1800 686 286

Jane is a mum, partner, psychotherapist in private practice, yoga teacher, group facilitator at Gwinganna Health Retreat and nurse.  To connect with Jane, visit her fabulous website.

Love for you to share your experiences if you’d like in the comments below…

 

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PND quote

  • JS

    Well done to your friend for being brave enough to seek help. I hope she is getting the help that is right for her. This is the other problem, I think. Many mums are overwhelmed and know they are not feeling right, but antidepressants are such a small part of the solution, and many won’t admit to their feelings, because they feel they will be directed to that path. I encourage you to keep on trying until you find the right person/treatment/support that is right for you.

    • Jane Faulkner

      Thank you JS for your
      comment. Hopefully with more education and compassion, society will encourage
      and support women to share their feelings. Often thats all any of us need, to
      be heard and accepted for who we are and where we are at. Jane

  • Ifel

    I know what it’s like to be in her position. I struggled for years till I couldn’t take it anymore… I knew something was so wrong but I tried to fix it by myself. Finally, I went to see my GP. I was so glad I made that step!

    Being lost in that very dark tunnel was so hard… Most of the time you just want to give up even when you’re seeing a little gleam of light. You just don’t have the strength to keep on going. Most of the time you just want to be defeated… Even when your heart is shouting for victory.

    The only thing that kept me going was my BOY… I was isolated because I didn’t have a car; I didn’t have any family at all in this country much more near me; I didn’t have a job because my husband wanted me to stay home instead (that would mean I was financially dependent for everything with my husband); I have a family back home that needs my financial help; the list can go on & on… The more I was sinking & sinking. It didn’t help at all that I had a very troubled marriage. I was constantly attacked for my behavior whenever there’s a heated argument. I was scrutinized for how I was behaving whenever we’d discuss something & I was easily agitated. Every night I would cry myself to sleep. Every night I would ask myself where I am… I have lost myself. If somebody gives me a compliment, I’d say thank you but in my mind, I’m questioning that. I was so broken… So bad that I didn’t know what it was like to be happy anymore.

    I wish then somebody saw what was going on with me… My boy was almost 3 when I got better. It took so much out of me to go to my GP & asked for help. I lost almost 3yrs of my life… Even up until now it makes me teary eyed whenever I’d think of the days that I wasn’t better. It had an impact on my boy. He became very sensitive because of me. That’s something you don’t forget.

    Now I have another son. He’s a toddler now… I am better but not lost. I am very cautious of my feelings as I don’t want to go to that dark tunnel again. I made a promise that even with what I am going through with my marriage, I am not going to lose myself. Right now, I have my little moments… But it’s not enough to ask for scripts or anything. My GP just advised me for counseling. I take one thing at a time. I make sure I smile on little things. & whenever I feel I am going to lose the battle for that moment, I just pull myself out of the situation, give myself a big cry, get out, take my kids somewhere, & smile. For now, that helps me… & maybe soon, that darkened tunnel will be my path to VICTORY.

    • Jane Faulkner

      Hello Ifel,

      Thank you so much for your
      comment. It is so important that we share our stories and reach out to one
      another through them. I am really pleased that you have made a promise not to
      lose yourself and that you have found strategies to make your way out of the
      dark tunnel you were in. Go easy and be kind to yourself on your journey, Jane

  • Vanessa

    Great blog, I have recently had my second baby and I have had so really dark days…
    I initially spoke to some family members who made me feel worse by ignoring me and stopped helping me all together.
    So I went to see my Gp and spoke to some close friends who were great!
    The Gp an I thought medicine wasn’t the best fit for me at this stage, so I am now seeing a counsellor.
    although I do have some tough days I also have some great days!

  • Jane Faulkner

    Thanks for your comment
    Vanessa. I’m really pleased your close friends have been supportive and you are
    going to see a counsellor. The more of us that talk about it, and have the
    courage to share how we feel, the better. Warm wishes on your parenting journey,
    Jane

  • Ceska

    This is a very good topic, all too real and true. Too many of us are affected and its really normal given we’re also having children later in life; add hormones to this & bang, the fun begins! Completely agree about backing each other, perhaps this is a positive of why communities worked so well in years gone by? Gorgeous time non the less… thank goodness for time healing most things

    • Thanks Ceska, yes I’m sure all mums can relate, even a little. G x

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