More than anything else, the title of this post is aimed at me. At my struggle. My struggle with postnatal depression.
Daniel is a week shy of 8 months, he is exclusively breastfed and one of the sweetest babies. I am not just saying that. It’s hard to blame my “baby blues” on him is all I mean, which is something I did for a long time. I told myself it was okay to feel tired, and weepy because breastfeeding is hard work. I couldn’t admit that I wasn’t coping out loud, because that would make me a bad mom. Something no mom ever wants to be.
I’ve been neglecting this space so much, because it’s my space. A space that I respect so much, a place that I can just be without judgement or shame, a place I had created so that other moms could find and think – okay, it’s not just me. I am not alone in this. A place that I never want to be anything less than authentic, and not telling you that I was struggling. Would to me, feel – like a lie. It would make me no better than all the rest of the moms on your Facebook feed that make you feel inadequate because all you see are happy faces, because no one ever says “Shit! I made a mistake”, without a whole lot of backlash.
When I went back to work at the end of last year – I was a little relieved. Ian was a little relieved. I already knew that something was wrong. Our problems finding a caregiver for Daniel pushed me over the edge too, I sometimes think. Most of my friends hadn’t met Daniel, partly because we never went out, partly because we never invited anyone in. I just never felt up to having anyone around. It would mean I would need to shower and do more than what I was already doing which felt like everything.
was is a dream husband, he picked up all my slack. Took in all my tantrums and outbursts. Helped around the house, and stayed with me, even when I didn’t want him around. He understood when I didn’t want to do anything without making me feel like a loser. Made me feel like it was okay to be, and constantly reminding me how proud he was of me, and what a good mom I was. He kept me sane.
I remember the first time he told me maybe I should go see someone. I was having all these bad days – I had even posted about them here and here. At the time, every time I had googled postnatal depression – only the severe stories had ever come up and so I had dismissed it. We knew something was amiss though, little things made me crazy. I felt out of control with the smallest adjustment to our usual routine. Emma and Ian felt the biggest brandt of my denial, picked up the biggest slack. My heart just breaks to think of how impatient and unreasonable I was at times.
Some days are better than others, I still get mini meltdowns at the office because I feel out of control. And hope that no one notices. I still overplan and underperform sometimes. Accepting that this is a reality was my biggest hurdle. Even though I want to be better more than anything else and sometimes I feel better. I need to be aware and careful, and I need to be kinder to myself.
Things that help me feel in control, and little mantras or reminders currently are:
- Being organised, I think sometimes I’m a little OCD – I make lists for everything, reminders, calendars, to do lists, anything to make my life look manageable. To make me feel accomplished when I get to tick something off the list.
- Don’t do tomorrow what you can finish today – procrastination is probably the biggest reasons for my meltdowns, when I can literally feel the problems getting bigger than me. This is a tough one.
- Carve out some time for you – time for a long shower, time for a sleep, time to laugh with your family, and watch a movie guilt free.
- Connect – talk to people, let them help you – being a supermom who is broken on the inside is not that fashionable.
- Being healthy and happy is better than being perfect!
My struggle is not over, and although these help and I’m learning to prioritise what is really important. I do sometimes slip up. And that’s okay, I’m learning and reflecting as I go along. There is so much strength and freedom is admitting and freeing from inside you that which has gripped you so tightly for so long.