Back to normal service!

Thanks to two ladies for giving me a gentle nudge.  I can’t quite believe that this is my first post of the year.  Where did that go?!?!?  Well it went down the pan, I’m afraid. 

 
 I was watching an episode of Ghost Whisperer.  And no, I don’t have a ghost, thankfully.   In it was a woman whose children had been taken into care as she had been put into a mental institution.  She had actually put herself in there since she thought that she had tried to drown her baby, and she wanted to be locked up for his protection.  It turned out that she hadn’t drowned him and she had been suffering from post natal depression.  It was set in the 50s, I think, when such things were swept under the carpet, I suppose.  Well it went into great detail about how she had felt the urge to put her son under the water, even though she had no desire to hurt him.  The compulsion was just too strong and she couldn’t bear the thought of it.
 
Well from the end of this episode until about three or four days later, I couldn’t stop crying.  And it wasn’t because I’m sensitive and cry at everything, because there are lots of things that make me cry, especially in my hormonal state.  I have been known to be traumatised by films and/or tv programmes (This is England, Witch Hunter, Nobody Knows, Mother, The (“bloody”)Notebook, to name but a few), but this was different.  I was crying because I recognised myself in this ghost woman.
 
When I had H, I was quite overwhelmed at the amount of responsibility in my arms and under my care.  My husband stayed at home with us for two days after we came home from hospital.  After that, I was on my own from 7 o’clock in the morning until at least 9 o’clock at night.  I know lots of women have done this, and although it was hard to get used to, it was ok.  But sometimes I would feel anxious.  I would imagine awful scenarios.  
 
One that I remember particularly was whilst walking over the river bridge one afternoon.  I had H in the baby carrier.  She was probably around two months old.  I looked down at the river and thought, “what if I dropped he’d in the river, how awful would that be?!?”  And I saw myself dropping her in, and I scolded myself for even thinking such a dark thought.  I never told anyone about it.  I felt very ashamed of myself.  I would get nervous at bath times, when wiping the baby’s face, changing her, picking her up, etc.  I felt that I should always be on guard for this horrible person lurking inside me that wanted to harm my children.  
 
I was pretty depressed during pregnancies, so what followed always seemed like simple exhaustion.  But once I’d seen that what I’d felt was a symptom of post-natal-depression, I couldn’t stop crying.  
 
I cried for the things I had thought, I cried for the guilt that came with them, I cried for the waste of not enjoying my little babies and wanting them to be stronger so that they weren’t so vulnerable, but mostly I cried with relief.  
 
I was not a monster.  
 
But from then on, I didn’t want my husband to leave me alone with the baby.  She was so little and fragile, I couldn’t bear the thought of her coming to any harm under my care.  It was a rough few days before I went to see a psychiatrist.  He was not a counsellor, but he was able to talk to me, mostly through my husband due to language difficulties, which was truly awful, because I still felt really ashamed and didn’t want him to think I really was a danger to my children and take them away from me.  Ugh, it really was a sobfest in the docs., where I wished the ground would either swallow me up or swallow the doc and hubby up.  But I knew that it had to be done.  
 
He diagnosed me with “major depression”, which freaked me out because I didn’t feel majorly depressed.  I wasn’t sitting zombie-like unable to move, and I didn’t have suicidal thoughts.  It wasn’t until I got home and googled those words that I found out that’s an American English term for what I know as “clinical depression”.  He didn’t think it was PND since I had been ok for the first few months.  I don’t wish to play doctor, but I’m leaning more towards PND since I recognised feeling the same when H was born, and also slightly (although not as much) when L was born.  Plus as they get bigger and stronger I don’t worry so much.  I am completely neurotic about things that CAN happen and I still imagine scenarios, but they no longer consume me once they are older.  
 
So the doctor said medication would be a good start for me.  I didn’t really want to go there, but actually I think at the time that it was necessary.  He offered me sleeping pills too, but as I’m co-sleeping, and was still nursing during the night, I really didn’t want to be sleeping deeply.  So I took the medication, it gave me headaches, nausea and insomnia, but I stuck to it.  Two weeks later the doc upped the dosage, and a little while later I started to feel a little better.  Our plan is another three months and then I can hopefully go off the medication.  I hope so because this shallow sleep, on top of me being a naturally shallow sleeper, is doing my head in a bit.  
 
I didn’t want to write this post at all, but in the interests of letting go and not bottling things up too much, I think it’s necessary.  Plus I would hate for anyone else to be ashamed of this too.  I have suffered from depression in my university years, but not having had thoughts about harming people, I was not really ashamed.  I was surprised after coming clean, so to speak, that lots of people treated it as commonly as a cold.  I suppose my problem is that I’m a bit too proud at times.  And terribly stubborn.  I hate to admit that I am having trouble sometimes, and will often struggle just so that I don’t put anybody out or make a fuss.  
 
So in the middle of all of this, I haven’t really felt able to blog, since I wanted to (and DIDN’T want to) blog about this.  So thank you lovely people, for showing me that I’d been missed!  I’m really OK now, doing much better.  And my baby is growing and happy and smiley and beautiful, and highly sensitive….but that last bit is a post for another day!  Back to normal service!ImageImageImage
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9 thoughts on “Back to normal service!

  1. It is definitely overwhelming being a mother. Especially in a country that isn’t your own and you are doing it alone. I have suffered depression and anxiety for most of my life. My husband lost his job while i was pregnant with number one and just after giving birth to number two. I spent most of my time in tears or worrying during both pregnancies and when they were newborns. I myself regret that the memories that I have from that time were filled with anxiety and stress. I feel like I need to get pregnant again so that maybe this time I could enjoy it!
    That being said we feel what we feel and it doesn’t make us bad mothers or bad people. We love our kids and want the best for them and at the end of that day that is all that matters.
    Glad that things are better now and all the best.

    • Yes, I think you’re right. If we didn’t care so much, it would make things easier, but what kind of life would that be? Sorry to hear about your husband’s job. Outside stresses certainly make things much harder to deal with. x

  2. Dear JapanMama, your blog entry made me shed a few tears of empathy. Really glad you are better and were able to get help. I had PND for about 4 months from when my son was 6 months old and a lot of anxiety too when he was small. I felt too ashamed to reach out and ask for help, i live in such a local place. The support of friends got me through and blogging too. Hang in there.

  3. Dear Laura,
    Thank you for sharing your story. You are so brave, and I’m glad you are felling better. You have three beautiful kids and you are a wonderful mother to them. I cannot believe how big and cute is your little princess. I miss reading your posts, every week I was checking on your blog, I thought you were busy with the new baby in the house.
    Please take care, looking for your next post and all your creative things you make.

  4. Good on you for taking such a big step and getting help from the doctor. And your bub is looking more and more beautiful all the time. xxx

  5. I almost feel a sigh of relief for you. Not talking about it must have been so hard 😦 I had extremely irrational thoughts when the kids were smaller. I thought about dropping a baby off the second story balcony once, and quite possibly three times. Some very hard thoughts that just got pushed away – after having a complete meltdown and handing said baby over to hub the minute he walked in the door so I could escape. I constantly worry about the kids getting abducted or hit by trucks on the way to school and the like – but as they get older I don’t worry as much. Today I even let Shou go across the road and look for lizards in the small drain between the rice paddies.

    Ryu, my 3rd too, is very sensitive and I often wonder and worry if its because I’ve shouted too much or done something. He almost gets mini panic attacks over tiny tiny details that just aren’t the way he thought they were meant to be in his head.

    I hope the meds keep working but that you are able to come off them in 3 months like you’d like too. Not getting enough sleep is bloody hard. I hope you keep up the blogging now 🙂 I’d be in a mental institution now if it wasn’t for Gaijinwife.

    Good luck.

    xxx

  6. So glad you are back! The same EXACT scenario happened while walking over a bridge with S when she was a baby. I was also shocked that I could have such dark thoughts about my own children, well those kinds of dark thoughts about anyone really. Thanks for being so brave and writing about your experience. I’m so glad you sought help and are feeling better. Take good care of yourself! And those photos of F are gorgeous!

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