DEALING WITH POSTNATAL DEPRESSION
It is quite common for women to fall into post natal depression after having a child. In my case I had a helping hand from my ex to win that title. Baby blues didn't come with a warning or an invitation in my life. It just one day decided to turn up and made it self at home. In my home. When it does come then it's too late.
For a little while I used to hate looking at my reflection. It didn't help of course having ceiling to floor mirrored built in wardrobes at home. I used to cover all of them with bedsheets in every room. In fact I didn't have 1 mirror on show. I just couldn't bare to see who was looking back at me. It wasn't me.
The thought of looking at the post baby belly, the thin loss of hair and scars from pregnancy acne on my face would make me shake. Of course the fact that I have just had a baby 4 weeks ago wasn't a good enough reason for me. I hated myself. Everyday I would ask myself the same questions, "it's because I look like this, I lost my marriage" "it's because I wanted children I look like this" .
I went on a insane mission to get myself back to what I used to look like, you see... if you don't see depression then it could not possibly exist right? I remember 6 weeks postnatal and I had just borrowed a exercise machine from a friend. The one were you have to go on all 4 and swing your hips side to side on this round wheel. Insanely twisting your abdominal muscles. What the hell was I thinking......wait that's it, I wasn't. I just knew I had to get rid of this fat which was swallowing me up. Not for once thinking my hip to hip stitches would get infected or pop!
I realise now how lonely I must of been because I used to look forward to putting my eldest to sleep, then putting my 6 weeks old baby in a bouncer and swing for my life, followed by hundreds of squats and then finishing off with a zumba CD. Thinking I would go bed tonight a dress size smaller. Yes I thought this was all normal and fine.
One minute you are ok and then the next you find yourself crashing down on your knees with your face buried in your hands, uncontrollably crying. You don't know what caused you to cry, but you just can't stop. There was times I would actually feel myself look at what I was doing as third person, almost like a outer body experience. Watching yourself. Feeling numb. Feeling nothing. You are just watching.
I could easily sit down with a cupper and zone out. Just staring into nothing. Can't remember what i'm thinking about but suddenly would come to realise I have been sitting here for hours. and haven't even taken a sip of what was once a hot cup of coffee.
Hours would go by in silence. My mind would tell me to ask my son how his day at school was but my heart was too weak to even bring myself around to look at him and break a smile. Duties for the baby was just that, duties and a routine to keep me moving around the home. I just found it hard to connect. "i carried you for 9 months, but why do you feel like a stranger?"
Sleeping was the worst, that is if i got any. You see during the day I would keep myself busy so my emotions couldn't catch up with me. At night, is when the emotions would come and attack me in full force. There was no house chores to get to and no baby routine. I was by myself with the feelings. I could feel my heart beat so loud that it almost felt like my T shirt would move with every beat. There was no one even there for me to have an adult conversation with. No one to say "do you want some tea".
The constant feeling of being in someone's else's body was tiring. A ever lasting battle with myself. Who is she? It's not me. My mind and heart refuse to connect. I just didn't care. Felt like a robot there to take care of these two little human beings and that is it. Why bother brushing your hair, Why bother having a shower,Why bother eating..... what's the point. This was the numbness sad merry go round I found myself on, only the conductor would not stop to let me off.
My son oneday was getting changed after coming home from school, I noticed a bruise on his leg so i asked what happened there. "mum i told you remember, i hurt myself in the playground". I stood there looking at this black and blue mark on this leg, watching him as he tried to put his trousers on. I felt an immense amount of shame and neglect come poring over me. Is this what it has become of me, that i couldn't even remember a conversation with my son. What else have I missed. Do I even wake up in the middle of the night to feed the baby?
It was then while I still had a bit of reality left in me, not knowing when it would go, I called the doctor and made an appointment. Am I a fit mother. Are they even safe with me. If popping a pill every few hours is what I had to do then so be it. Most people hate the idea of having a social worker and health visitor visit, but if it meant I could finally have a adult conversation with someone then so be it. Speaking to my own family about what I was going through was not an option. Not that they would not support me but for someone who grew up in a community were depression is seen as something to be ashamed of and not meant to exist, then I would much rather them see me when I am on my happy pills. For now.
A doctor, health visitor and a therapist involvement is unheard of in my world, but just think how many lives could be helped, if this barrier was knocked down. 4 years down the line now and it is almost like reading a horror story. To think that was me. How would I be now if I didn't go searching for help. Where would my kids be?. Would i be even here?
It wasn't a overnight cure. We all have our own ways in dealing with pain. Mine was to keep busy. So I did the one thing that I knew would keep me busy for 3 years. I went to university. If only they knew the girl sitting in that class room is on medication for depression, who just had a baby and become a single mum in matter of couple of weeks. What would they say and think?.
It turns out I had to hit rock bottom in order to find my self worth. In order to find that motivation to live my life. I said before that depression just turns up at your doorstep without any warnings or an invitation. When in fact it did send warnings of sadness which I chose to hide away and let it build up. Being happy in life comes naturally, but sadness takes work so why do we hold onto those moments instead.
Keeping my mind occupied helped me overcome my depression. I found a new love,one that didn't make me hate myself physically, one that gave me knowledge, one that made me stress about the future plans and not what I was living in. Slowly but surely those bedsheets came down. I saw her in the reflection. Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the strongest of them all. The one who overcame her fears, the one who went into a battle with her demands, the one who is protecting her two own creations, the one who doesn't hates herself anymore. the one who can speak and present in a crowded room when once upon a time, she couldn't even string two sentences together, the one who can now sleep at night and dream those dreams which makes her smile.
Posted by Yasmine Alom