I’d heard of PND. It was just a label. Some variation of baby blues that one just snaps out of with magical pills and cognitive therapy. Now I’m in it and it suddenly doesn’t seem so simple as that.
It’s like being in a room that has no doors or windows. But it’s a glass room. You can see everyone around you and even walk amongst them, but you have to fight to be heard and to make sense. You reach out to touch them and you don’t feel them, despite desperately wanting to and seeing your hands and arms make contact. In fact, you become so desperate to feel something… anything… that you find yourself contemplating inflicting pain on your body just to ground yourself. To prove you are truly there and not lost in the hell of the glass room. To remind yourself that you are safe, despite feeling the complete opposite.
You try to do the simplest of things… like make breakfast. And you have to truly concentrate on each movement and talk yourself through each action so that you don’t get it wrong. You lose things. And then you panic that you have lost them and that you are, once again, becoming lost yourself. You try to find what is missing and then get distracted by a thought (or a thousand thoughts, more on that in a moment) and suddenly realise you are staring into space, the toast is burnt, the baby is screaming, your partner is looking at you with worry all over his face and your toddler has poured his juice all over the carpet!
The thoughts in your head come thick and fast. A huge jumble of thoughts and feelings… some rational others not. The rational ones you cling on to whilst the irrational ones you fight against, reasoning with yourself that nothing bad is going to happen and that all will be ok. You check on the children 100 times an hour and see threats to their well being wherever you look. Will they choke on that piece of food? Will they fall off the sofa and smack their head? Will they ever not wake up from their naps? Will they contract an illness? Will they run out in the road? Will they fall over and end up bleeding and in pain? Will they, will they, will they?!
You see your babies. One new, beautiful baby and one sweet yet feisty tot that you have brought into the world and you feel something for them but you can’t figure out what that something is. You know its love but the glass room and all the worry stop you short from feeling the true impact of that love. Because you are numb. Your mind and body are just overwhelmed and it is exhausting.
I have post natal depression and post traumatic stress disorder which causes severe anxiety. It is Maternal Mental Health week and I have written this to document exactly how it feels to be me because there maybe someone reading this, perhaps you or even someone you know, who is suffering the exact same thing and it is good to talk. There is such a stigma around mental health and there really shouldn’t be because the cure is reaching out and talking to people. It takes courage and strength, I for one know that for sure. Some people will treat you like you are Virginia Woolf about to walk into a river. Some people may feel awkward and withdraw because they don’t know what to do or say. But there will be those glorious ones who rally round to you, who will reassure you that all will be ok and they will take your hand and guide you out of the glass room and bring you back home.
To the people who have done that for me recently, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am going to be fine and, for now at least, am enjoying motherhood more than ever. Long may it continue as I never, EVER want to be in that glass room again.
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