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!