A friend of mine has just announced the birth of their daughter.
And I feel sad. Their photos are beautiful.
I remember some of the early days, only six months ago. Although it does feel like a lifetime has passed. I want to reach out to ‘pay it forward’ like the ladies who supported me in the early days, and those who support me now, but I don’t know how to be positive or supportive at the moment. All I want to say to her is:
- do you know the signs of PND?
- do you know the signs of a psychotic episode?
- it’s okay to ask for help of any kind
- please give yourself time
- try the mind the bump application
I am trying to remember more of the early days, before the darkness set in. Before exhaustion took over my brain, ending my ability to cope, be strong, be myself. Instead I became a pile of nothingness, who hated my child and had visions of killing him.
I want her to know that it is not normal to be:
- fantasising about killing your child
- seeing and/or feeling spirits
- experiencing paranoia that everyone is out to get you for ‘being a bad mum’
- believing that your baby is deliberately acting in a certain way to manipulate you, to persecute you
- thinking that you are going crazy
- not sleeping AT ALL
These are indicators that something else might be going on. Please talk with other mums about this as they might be experiencing it, and not know the signs. They, like me, might be too scared to say anything in case someone comes to take their baby away, deeming you an unfit mother due to your mental capacity.
But know that this is not true.
- If you tell a trusted medical professional they will relentlessly seek out help for you.
- If you show a trusted love one just how you truly are or are not coping, they will relentlessly seek out help for you.
I know this much is true, now. But everyone just said to me
‘watch out for post natal depression.
the carers in the hospital,
the social worker,
family members… other mums.
It was as if it was known, a lived experience, but an accepted ‘rite of passage’.
It was not until my mum saw me have an episode that things became clearer. That I was indeed ill beyond the scope of sludgy depression, and that we needed help, urgently.
I would want my friend to know that although I cannot offer any tangible support, I can offer her my experience. These indicators. The important hallmarks of becoming a mum, for me, as cruel as it has been. And that every day I take my medication and think ‘thank f^%&k that mum picked up something was up and kept us for six weeks’. The alternative would have been irreparable harm for myself and/or Master X.