I was diagnosed with Postnatal Depression when I was 21 and the Bean was around 6 months old. Given my history with abuse, my midwife had warned me that I was much more susceptible to PND, so I was aware of that. However, I was in no way ready for it when it actually hit; I felt deep despair and sadness but brushed it off because I had a small baby to care for. The first year consisted of sleepless nights, breastfeeding woes (it took me 10 weeks to get a painless latch!), arguments over whose turn it was to get up to the baby and of course the messy house with everything, everywhere. I was already such an anxious person so having the Bean had my anxiety through the roof! I would share with my counsellor the things I was experiencing and he suggested I speak to the doctor about it and get something to help me sleep. So I did. Got some sleeping tablets and I swear it was the best sleep I had had in months! The feeling was so amazing I wept…
Side break: (I always have side breaks in every conversation or story I’m telling because I just like to share). I say it was similar to the first time I put a peanut butter and jam sandwich (favourite pregnancy craving!) in my mouth it was honestly the best thing to ever happen to me. I was at work, in the kitchen and I just had this urge for a savoury/sweet snack so I finally, after 21 years, discovered peanut butter and jam. It for real blew my mind, I stood there chewing ensuring every bit of it was savoured; then I cried. My co-worker walked in on me and she understood straight away as she has three kids, so it was a shared understanding. Anyway…
I eventually settled down a little, of course, the sleep helped a lot. However, the anxiety bubbled under the surface, I was afraid to leave my house, afraid of the dark, had no motivation to change out of my pyjamas and became afraid of myself. I mentioned in my previous post that I experienced a numb feeling, I felt no love for my partner or my daughter and I must say although I say I felt nothing, I did feel incredibly awful for feeling these feelings but it was just all so overwhelming. I was prescribed anti-depressants by my doctor and they took forever to kick in but I finally started to feel like the traffic in my head was slowing down. Even with the medication, the depression took hold and I ended up leaving my partner, I moved out of our home and him to another. Long story short we were separated for 6 months, we had shared our daughter 50/50 and even attended couples counselling to get a better understanding on how to co-parent, it was all for the Bean. Eventually, it became about us and how we can slowly get back into each other's good book and here we are.
It was no easy road to get to where we are today but I can say (for me) the medication helped me a lot. There is a lot of taboo within my community around depression and taking medication and often these things go unspoken about; however, that is a complex conversation to be had because there are lots of reasons why first nations peoples suffer from debilitating mental illnesses. I just really want to reiterate that these feelings of depression, anxiety, sadness, suicide etc should be shared, sometimes it can be a matter of life or death, but letting someone know or being the listener is really great! I can guarantee that these feelings don’t last forever, you are in control and can make the choices that can change things for you. Since 14 years old, my choices (both good and bad) have saved my life, I have gravitated toward people who I know would help me, always doing things that went against the grain and I can say I am very happy with where I ended up. I want that for other people cause we all deserve to have someone cheering for us!
Did any of you have a similar experience? Were there any services readily available to you and easy to access?
I’m curious to hear your stories, share if you like! :)
DISCLAIMER: This blog is just my personal views and thoughts on life. They should in no way be used as a substitute for professional help with anything. If you or someone you know suffers from mental illness please get professional help. For help with mental illness in Australia, you can contact Beyond Blue at 1300 22 4636 or through their website here https://www.beyondblue.org.au/. For help with mental illness in Norway, you can contact Hjelpetelefonen at 116 123 or contact your local mental health centre. If you’re anywhere else in the world please search for mental health professionals in your area.