In the weeks after having Lily, I was asked the same three questions by the midwives and health visitors I saw:
Have you been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless ?
I felt happy, I loved this little thing I’d brought into the world and felt like I could burst with love… I feel excited for the future, everything we would experience together and that we had to look forward to..
Have you been bothered with little interest or pleasure in doing things ?
I wanted to take our little cub everywhere and show her the world. I was proud to do everything for her.
Do you need any help with anything ?
(Only asked if answered yes to any of the previous questions.)
Not really. I’d shrug. Just wanting to get rid of them now. Feeling nervous and like I was being probed for symptoms of ‘failure’.
I didn’t feel down, or depressed. But I didn’t feel right.
I felt as though there was a constant threat of danger lurking in the house, and became paranoid that she would come to harm the second my back was turned.
I validated these thoughts with memories of freak accidents and headlines that jumped out from the papers or television late at night.
It was almost as if I could see a chain events happening before they did – which would leave me feeling sick or my stomach in knots.
Every ‘bedtime’ left me with the fear that SIDS would rob me of my precious baby, every Visitor was germ/disease ridden, any object left on the floor became a choking hazard and after being let down by my trusted health professionals before and after birth I avoided appointments to get Lily weighed, certain they didn’t know what they were talking about or they would find a reason to take her from me.
At the end of every day I was exhausted from the nervous tension I had built up everyday and I began to stay inside – paranoid something might happen to us if I left the house.
My mind was constantly racing, worrying about one thing or another – was Lily happy ? Was she safe ? Am I annoying everyone with my worries ? What if she had something seriously wrong with her and I had no idea..?
I couldn’t sit and relax– there was always something to be doing anyway, I told myself. Cleaning to finish, laundry to fold, dinners to cook.
I obsessively locked the door, and bolted it shut whenever I was in. I would clean the entire bathroom whenever I was in it.
My worst feelings were that I’d lost myself, that I’d never be ‘carefree’ again, and I’d long for the old days back and then I’d feel heavy with guilt that I was almost wishing for my baby to go away, and yet I was paralysed with fear that the cruel hand of Fate would take her… Punishment for my dreadful thoughts.
Was I going to feel like this forever ? I was constantly being told that being a Mum is a Job FOR LIFE. Did that mean I would never feel peaceful ever again ? Mind racing again – I did what all modern parents do … I googled it.
And found an answer to the way I was feeling.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading, I had no idea about post partum anxiety – the focus always being on post natal depression.
Around 11% of new mothers suffer from Postnatal Depression but up to 15-20% of new mothers have feelings like this – so why aren’t we being told about it ?
Throughout pregnancy we are reminded that we should seek help immediately if we suspect we may be suffering with PND, and yet any anxious thoughts are often written off as being ‘ over protective’ or just ‘First time nerves.’
Unsure who to turn to, I spoke to Ryan – who although didn’t understand my feelings, understood that I was struggling with them. Being able to finally say it all without fear of judgement was the first step to my feeling better.
I didn’t want to see a Doctor, but I did accept that if I began feeling worse it was the first thing I would do. Thankfully, with help from Ryan I feel almost normal again.
Although I do have bad days every now and then, I focus on the good things everyday, Lily’s laugh, her smiles when she sees me, our lovely home, the area we live in.
I accept that there are things I cannot change, and that the Unknown scares everyone.
There is no ‘perfect’ parent – no one really knows what they are doing.
Everyone has Poo days, and for every rubbish day there will be an amazing one. I educate myself on the things I’m unsure about, and ignore the scary headlines that are there to induce fear.
I regularly over share my thoughts and feelings so other ladies out there will realise that they are not alone. And that its ok to feel nervous, or unsure, or that you haven’t been a ‘natural’ like everyone else. Truth is – none of us really know what we are doing …
For more infomation – http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/