Last year, on about my third post, I brought up the 'D' word - In that post I discussed how PND, actually let's be brave and fully name it rather than abbreviate, Postnatal Depression, apparently affects something like 1 in 3 mothers so why is it still viewed with shame and guilt? I read on the website for the Association of Post-Natal Illness (http://apni.org) that PND is often referred to as the 'silent epidemic' and that doesn't surprise me as let's face it who wants to actually admit that they are unhappy on a daily basis or unable to cope with their children when no-one else seems to feel the same and people who are lucky enough to have never suffered can't see what you have to be miserable about!
However, Post-Natal depression can affect any mother (even those that seem to think they are immune to it- yes, I have really heard someone say this!) and is something that we have no control over, much like a physical illness. If more people understood this then perhaps people would not be afraid to discuss it and many mothers would realise that they are not alone in their feelings and could offer a great deal of support to one another. I have found that every single time I have opened up about this one person I know has confided that they too are feeling the same. This is something that actually makes me feel really positive and just highlights the need for it to be addressed. I then read yesterday about the Mental Health Carnival, being hosted this month by Mrsshortiesmind - http://mrsshortiesmind.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/mental-health-carnival-posts-needed/ and really wanted to be involved.
I need to address PND in my blog as it is a large part of my life, and yes, sadly I am amongst those who find it difficult to discuss with those closest to me. Many of my friends are aware of it but perhaps not the full extent to which it affects me - This is my PND journey...
Anyone who has had a baby will know how crap you feel after giving birth. It kicks in around a day or two after and is known as the baby blues - you know that time when you cry hysterically because you can't reach your dinner in the hospital (or was that just me?!) and can't stop! However when it's your first baby you honestly have no idea how long you should feel like this for before it becomes something more than baby blues. By the time my daughter was 6 months old it became apparent that I was not coping. (By the way at this point I'm not just referring to not being able to reach my dinner!)
PND is difficult to explain. For me I suppose it's an overwhelming feeling of being unable to cope, even the tiniest of tasks bringing on panic. In addition to that there is the feeling of being completely unmotivated, lacking the energy to even contemplate doing things. Anyway, with my daughter I put it down to breastfeeding at first, a task I had immense difficulty with. She fed very well, I however hated it. It drained and exhausted me and confined me to the house, too embarrassed to feed in public. When I tried to discuss stopping with the Health Visitor it wasn't met well. By the time she was four months though I had stopped completely, yet I felt no better, worse if I am honest. It was at this point I took what is the bravest step any woman suffering PND, or any person suffering depression for that matter, can take - I went to the GP and admitted how I was feeling. This resulted in my taking medication.
I only took tablets for around 8 months though and even now wonder if I fully recovered from PND between stopping them and resuming them three months after the birth of my sons. In fact, I am more or less convinced that it didn't. My sons will be two this year and I am still faithfully taking the tablets. Medication isn't for everyone but with PND I strongly believe they are your best chance of resuming some sort of normality quicker. In fact, I was informed by my GP that it will not go away on its own and you need the medication to restore the chemical imbalance causing the depression. True? I've no idea but I do know on the two or three occasions I have tried to reduce and eventually stop the tablets, I have started to have more episodes of panic.
I am really hoping that I will one day say farewell to the tablets. I posted yesterday about the exercise I have been doing and how helpful that it. I also really hope to eventually put PND behind me for good. I sincerely hope this is possible but until then I will keep talking about it if that's OK, as, apart from keeping me sane, it will help others realise they are not alone.