When it's just not adding upPost Natal Anxiety & Depression
This post has been a long time coming…. and partially because it’s slightly more serious than my usual musings (which are generally about pretty, funny or fabulous things… which is fine by me 😉 )
I cannot promise that you’ll find many ‘gems’ of wisdom here as I am very very much a work in progress …. as we all are really, no one ever really reaches the elusive ‘there’ that we keep trying to get to ….. but the crux of the story is…… I was struggling. I got help. and I’m a million times better off. Yayyy for the win!!! So if this can help a single other person either realise that it’s quite normal to feel like a flat pancake, but that you don’t have to stay that way…. then win win yeah?
So in the spirit of telling a tale, let us rewind about six months ago when a little light bulb went off in my foggy brain telling me..
‘things aren’t quite adding up’
My second bubba Lola was almost six months old and in all honesty I had spent a lot of that time using ‘the newborn phase’ as self-reasoning for me slowly.going.crazy. Now I’m all for using the ‘baby’ card to get out of boring dinners, painful kid’s parties, shaving your legs, or voting (can that please be a thing… polling booth queues and babies mix about as good as ice cream and gravy)…. but I was certainly taking my ‘I’ve got a newborn’ to the extreme. But to be fair there’s not many other times in life that will you feel like you’re jet lagged, severely hungover and in the middle of exam week all at once….
It was only when the intense first few months had died down, the sleep patterns had settled nicely, I was sleeping well again and ‘reality’ swung back into action, that I realised… I don’t feel any better.
Lola is honestly the most calming, peaceful and darling baby and apart from a few hiccups along the way, we’d had a pretty blessed first six months. So why did I feel like getting out of bed every day felt like sludge, and kicking my toe was enough to reduce me to tears, or the thought of tackling day care drop off with a baby in tow physically made my heart race, chest tighten and on more than one occasion resulted in me keeping Evie home pretending she was sick! I slowly began to realise that my reactions to everyday simple things were overly exaggerated to the scenarios themselves and just weren’t adding up.
Building the courage to even have an honest sit down and chat with my husband (who is seriously supportive so I cannot imagine the pain of struggling through this with no support) took quite a few weeks and, gotta love him, he took the practical approach. While I was sitting there feeling all overwhelmed with my thoughts and emotions he asked some nice and simple questions. Like ‘have you been taking your multi vitamins? how are you eating? how active are you?. Yes it would be easy to punch a man who ever suggests exercising more, but he pointed out the simple facts that Lola was literally draining all my nutrients away (she seriously breastfeeds about 10 times the average), I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding constantly for 3 years (including a miscarriage in between the two girls), and my go-to when I have spare time is face-plant the couch (as opposed to anything even slightly resembling physical activity).
And so I started taking baby steps…. because a life overhaul would have made me anxious as hell…. taking those vitamins, sneaking active time into just the normal day (which includes dance workouts to The Wiggles.. those guys are rig for a reason), and generally trying to eat better.
And yes I saw an improvement! Definitely a promising step in the right direction, but to really try and tackle some root causes we decided to chat to my ‘Godsend of a Doctor’ and ask for her recommendations for a psychologist or counsellor.
Fast forward about two weeks and I’m in the waiting room of a PND clinic and feeling a fraction away from sitting on the floor and hugging my knees! I had absolutely no idea of what to expect from a psychology session…. will I lie on a couch? Do I just start talking? Should I rehearse? Maybe I should have written something down? Oh god, they’re probably watching me on a camera from the next room analysing my freaking out!! May as well just leave now and they can email me my diagnosis….
And then the other side of my brain is thinking, ‘what if I go in there and they tell me I’m overreacting, am a drama queen and there’s nothing wrong with me? Maybe I’m just playing the pity card? I don’t really have anything to complain about do I? Will they tell me to just toughen up? Coz that’ll make me cry!
…all this and a million other thoughts happen within about 30 seconds…
And you know what? It was fine!! I did realise about half way through the session that I was tightly hugging a pillow (I mean how cliche!) but all in all it was nice simple questions and reassurances as to how incredibly common it was to be ‘eye-twitchingly’ edgy after the literal hormonal rollercoaster my body had been through for three years…. and the best thing about it, she confidently reassured me that we were going to get through this! I think I skipped out of there!
No I wasn’t ‘cured’ overnight and yes I had to face up to some ugly thought patterns and beliefs over the next 6 months (which included many tears and downloading chats with my long suffering husband) but in all honesty I could not recommend speaking to a professional more!
I am very much still on a ‘journey’ but feel so at peace with the steps I’m taking. Even small steps in the right direction are better than none at all (or going backwards). I have a much better understanding of physically what my body has gone through, how that affects my mind and essentially what I need physically, mentally and emotionally to function at my best.
There is a million other things I could go on about here and I may touch on things more in the future. This may not have interested you at all (if so, not sure why you’re still reading), but I know the more we (as people in general, not just mums) speak openly about mental illness the easier we are on ourselves about having ‘hiccups’ and seeking help.
In no way am I a professional on the subject (unless you call the subject ‘me’… even then actually..) and I know that anxiety and depression can be completely different for each person… but this is a mini portion of my story, and honestly I’m feeling pretty damn proud of myself these days! And six months ago I would not have thought that possible.
Anyway…. all that serious chatter…. good for the soul but I feel like I might follow up with five articles on kids fashion and #pinterestfails for good balance.
lots and lots of love