Postnatal depression (PND)… no one likes to talk about it. No one likes to admit that they have it. There’s a severe stigma attached to it. Even though I suffer from it I still find myself conjuring up certain images, ideologies and expectations when I hear the words uttered.
There is such an awful stigma attached to mental illness in general but in particular postpartum mood disorders.
Many people (and I’m talking intelligent, grounded, everyday people) do not view depression or anxiety as illnesses. They instead label people. As a worrier, as negative, lazy, self-involved, dramatic, over-emotional, loner, etc etc etc.
It is a temporary disease. One that is strong. One that you cannot fathom unless you have been there.
I hate being someone who ‘gets it’… but I do. So I simply cannot ignore it and pretend it isn’t happening.
The mornings are the hardest. It is physical. I wake up feeling hopeless and aimless… even though I know that I have so much to enjoy, cherish, love and be grateful for. I wish people could get that. When you suffer from PND you do not control those thoughts like you do others. You know it’s not logical… but it affects you. It’s as much physical as it is mental (especially anxiety, lordy!)
Some mornings, for whatever reason, I can fight through the funk with relative ease. I stretch and sit up and smile at my boy. I kiss him and sing to him as I change him and I get up and make myself tea and porridge while I talk away to Cameron and make a mental to-do list.
Other days, however, I struggle. I fall in and out of negative dreams and foggy wakefulness where I just want to sleep. It’s like my body is saying “it’ll get better… if you do nothing” even though I know it isn’t true. I’ll smile at Cam, feed him and change him then lay back down submissively to the overwhelming desire to not care… although I do. I really really do.
PND changes your reality. It starves you of positivity. It drags you down and makes you feel tired, worthless, hopeless… sad. It takes and takes and takes.
But worst of all, I believe, it tries to cloud my perspective. The beauty. The magic. My happiness.
Most days I start to feel better as I do more… but there is the matter of fighting it with motivation (which is harder than it sounds).
It can be so easy to get sucked into the cycle. Depression feeds off negativity and loves to hear you think or say “I give up”. So you can give in… I can quite easily start to believe that I’m a bad Mum, who is not deserving of happiness, who is lazy and worthless.
But I’m getting stronger and stronger each day. Finding new, creative, beautiful ways to construct a different perspective and breathe loveliness into my life. Not that I don’t have all that I want right in front of me… but being proactive helps. And it shows that anxiety and sadness are just parts of what makes me me.