The next days were a whirlwind (as anyone would describe) - you live in your bubble of bliss not knowing how you could love someone as much as you do right now.
I had previously been diagnosed with anxiety back in 2014 but after undergoing therapy it was something that was more of a distant memory; but unfortunately not so distant as I thought. Now don’t get me wrong the midwives and doctors asked me how I was, but I wasn’t about to tell them how overwhelmed I was, or how I felt like I was living in someone else's body, for the fear my daughter would be taken away from me, so instead I done the only thing I thought was reasonable, and kept my feelings to myself!
Over the coming months I struggled with everything! Looking like I was the perfect mum and wife, best friend to all, able to get up and get out of the door every day, lunch and coffee dates - anything just to keep my mind on something else rather than the sinking feeling I had of "I am a terrible mum!"
I watched others at mum and baby groups who seemed to have it all together, of course I never actually asked them if they were OK or how they were doing, I just assumed because my mind allowed me to. At home things weren’t any easier I argued with my husband all the time, never let him or anyone help me as I wanted to prove I could do it all, but in fact I was sinking faster down a slippery slope and pushing people away when I should have been saying I just need help.
I returned to work in January 2018 and finally felt like I was going to get a bit of me back; the me that knew what she was doing day in and day out, because unlike being a Mum I was good at my job, but oh no instead the Mum guilt was amplified! I realised something was wrong when I thought if I just keep walking around London and don’t go home my daughter and husband would be better off without me, they would have a better life if it was just them. Writing that now is hard because at the time you don’t realise how much you need the help, then you look back and realise how grateful you are that you did get it, as things could have been very different.
I Whatsapped my best friends and told them everything, to which of course (because I carry a smile on me at all times) they had no idea, next my husband and parents who had seen the tears more than anyone, but again didn’t know I needed the help I did.
I started counselling in February 2018 and when the councellor said the words "you have postnatal depression" I sobbed. Finally relief, and a name for everything I was feeling; I wasn’t crazy or a bad mum at all, I just needed help and to talk it through with someone who didn’t know me and didn’t judge me. I had 5 months of counselling and it really saved me from being so consumed with guilt. It took me 15 months to get a formal diagnosis, but if I look back now I suffered for a long time in silence because I just didn’t know how to ask for help or who to turn to.
I now embrace this and will happily talk to anyone who thinks they might be going through this. I am not ashamed of my story or worried people will judge me for it, I realise now if I had spoke sooner and reached out to anyone, they would have told me it is going to be OK.
Speaking to someone is the first step in getting help, it is the first step to realising you are not alone.