I’ve often had those moment where I reflect on the early months of Edith’s life, remembering a lot of things, from the tiny fingers that held my heart to endless hours spent walking up and down the living room at 12am whilst watching The Walking Dead (fortuitously discovered 4 seasons in.)
This week has been especially trying so far, with a really bad case of man flu on my behalf and a less than happy Edith, who was displeased with my being unwell and further disgruntled that she wasn’t feeling tip top. On top of this I’ve had a few deadlines to match and it’s all been a bit hectic. There have been a fair few times that I have felt close to tears whilst Edith has kicked and screamed in my face, her dad staring at us in disbelief because he’s always been at work and never really privy to the way she behaves when she doesn’t want mama to do anything but sit and feed her.
Last night Adam asked me if it was like this often and I told him the truth – no, this week is especially tough, but throw back to 12 months ago and it was much much worse. Funnily, I remember it being much worse, I remember feeling like I had a cloud over me and that I was paddling in deep water, forever struggling to stay afloat, but what I didn’t realise was the depth of despair I truly felt. The loneliness, the feeling of failure and the disinterest in the majority of the world around me. I look back on life with Edith, a difficult baby by anyone’s standards, and I realise that what I experienced sounds a lot like post natal depression.
I’ve never been diagnosed with PND and I don’t think, in hindsight, that I needed any treatment however I do think that a lot of women walk a line between PND and full blown sign and dance, I’m so happy my face could melt feelings, but there is little discussion of that in-between feeling of just not having your shit together. Some days are glorious and you feel like you have stepped out of an area where strangers should be chanting your name because, god dammit, you had this DOWN. You fed the kids, no one had too much of a melt down, you talked to adults (without sobbing or twitching) and you had a good day. The the next day comes and it isn’t a good day. It’s a day that leaves you wondering how you will face tomorrow, it’s a day that makes you wonder if you made a mistake having another baby and the. Leaves you feeling like a terrible person because you really wish you could take it all back… but not really. Then you read a story about someone whose baby has died and you feel even worse because, yes your baby is insanely tough, but you wouldn’t want anything to happen to them and then panic builds like bile in the back of your throats and it’s all you can do just to breath.
We jest a lot about needing a glass of the good stuff to calm our frayed nerves at the end of the day, but many of us – myself specifically here – refuse to truly acknowledge that some days, we didn’t cope and some days we were over whelmed. In the grand scheme of things these days melt away and we remember the good moments but they act like a shadowy cloud over what was an otherwise happy and challenging period.
To tell you the truth I look back over the last few years and from the time Edith was 4-5 months old to her being 18 months has that cloud, that panicky feeling that if I look back too deeply I think I will discover I struggled far more than my pride would admit.
Last week was world mental health week and I didn’t feel that with all these brilliant bloggers writing about their struggles with genuine mental illness like PND I could really contribute so I kept shtum, but having reassessed, maybe my contribution wouldn’t be purely speculative after all.
If you feel like you are struggling, like those bad days are outweighing the good, don’t let it take you a year and a half to admit it to yourself. Talk to someone and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to see the sunshine.