Postnatal Depression: My biggest obstacle…

I was lying on the bed over the weekend, watching my Handsome Fiance (HF) get ready for a boys afternoon out, and it suddenly hit me:  I wouldn’t blame him if he left me and found someone younger, more beautiful, NICER.  I wouldn’t blame him at all…  I mean, look at me!  There I was, still in my pajamas and dressing gown (with the customary uggboots), my hair a mess, feeling depressed and awful.  And here he was, looking absolutely manly and gorgeous in a shirt and jeans, ready to face the world in all his handsomeness.  What do I have left to give to this relationship?  What can I possibly give this gorgeous, hunk of a man to make him stay?

So, I said to him:  “Babe, I wouldn’t blame you if you left me, you know.”

To which he replied:  “I’m never going to leave you, you’re stuck with me.”

Me:  “Why would you want to stay with me when I’m like this?  When I’m feeling crappy all the time and can be so horrible?”

Him:  “You’re not horrible all the time.  It’s going to get better, babe.  You know that.  We just have to give it time.”

He is a wonderful, wonderful man!  I consider myself so very lucky to have him in my life.  His understanding and patience through the past 18 months has been extraordinary and I love him so much because of it.  What makes me sad is the majority of the time I can’t show him how I feel because my mind is so clouded by the vicious thoughts the Postnatal Depression Monster (PND-M) constantly consumes me with, as highlighted above.   I desperately want my HF to know how much I appreciate him but instead I find myself getting upset and frustrated over the most stupid of things (eg. putting his laundry in the wrong basket), or feeling exasperated because I’ve had to explain something more than once, or overwhelmed due to my having to do EVERYTHING around the house (which is entirely untrue!).  Then the guilt kicks in… Why do I keep doing this to him?  Why do I speak to him so unkindly and with such venom?  Why can’t I just love him and be patient the way he loves me and is patient with me?  It seems such an impossible situation and I often feel completely helpless to repair the damage I’m continually causing my family.  And therein lies the torturous reality for those affected by postnatal depression.

So my biggest obstacle throughout this journey so far?  Definitely these such thoughts.  My world has gone from one I viewed with such confidence, motivation, and optimism to one I can only describe as dark and cloudy.  Don’t get my wrong, I do have sunny days (and more so since I began taking the antidepressants prescribed by my GP), but the dark days still come and interfere with my life in ways I wish they wouldn’t.   I find myself craving the life we had before the LM came along.  Not a life without the LM in it, but rather the easiness of the relationship I had with my HF.    We used to laugh and joke, hug and kiss, hold hands and really enjoy each others company.  Now it seems we simply co-exist.  My HF fears saying anything wrong that will “set me off” and is hesitant to give me a hug like the old days for fear I’ll pull away from him.  All the while he doesn’t realise I desperately want for things to return to the way they were too.  It feels like a no-win situation, even though in my rational mind I know it isn’t.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though.  The help I’ve received so far, which I’ll go into further another time, has given us one very helpful tool… “understanding”.  The arguments we would have before my diagnosis would spiral out of control because neither of us knew what was happening.  We would blame each other, take things personally, and never reach a resolution because not only were these “episodes” becoming more frequent, they were becoming more damaging.  So when I came home from my doctor and said, “I’ve been diagnosed with Postnatal Depression, I’m officially a mental case”, we were actually able to laugh and breathe a sigh of relief for the first time in a LONG time.  We now knew what was behind this erratic behaviour (thank God!) and we could take the necessary steps to ease what was going on for us both.  Our focus now resting on healing each other, rather than resenting each other.   This small understanding between us has definitely made our lives that little bit easier.  We now talk openly about what’s happening on a day-to-day basis – how he’s feeling, how I’m feeling, what needs to be done this week, etc.  We plan in advance for as many things as possible to alleviate the stress for me, we discuss my flat or bad moods without being offended by what the other is saying.  This simple tool alone provides us both with the breathing space we need to quickly think about things before we react… Much like my example of our conversation above.  Rather than becoming exasperated because I was again feeling flat and questioning his love for me, he instead reassured me he’s not going anywhere, came over to where I was lying and gave me a big hug.  And you know what?  I believe him.

My journey through postnatal depression, whilst feeling endless at times, has also provided my relationship with some very valuable tools of communication.  And for that I’ll always be thankful.  Things are far from perfect, but with each sunny day we get that little bit closer to a brighter future and feel better equipped to handle the dark days when they appear.

Have you had a similar experience?  What are the valuable tools you’ve learnt so far?  I would love to hear about them.

Thanks as always for reading, I hope your day is being kind.  Until next time.

TSM  xx

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13 thoughts on “Postnatal Depression: My biggest obstacle…

  1. ivyshihleung says:

    Your HF sounds so wonderfully supportive and loving. Those are key attributes for helping the postnatal mom recover from her illness. Thanks for sharing your experience with others!

  2. I try to take it one day at a time and focus on the good. The negative feelings can be so brutal though. My husband says I must be body dysmorphic, but it’s even more than that, I can look at myself and see someone so ugly. I don’t understand how everyone can say my daughter looks like me when she’s so beautiful… and that’s one of the reasons I’m trying to silence the negative things I say about myself, I don’t want her to hear them and reflect them back to herself! It’s a struggle though… keep working at it!

    • It’s amazing how disillusioned we can become when feeling so low and helpless on the inside, isn’t it? It constantly amazes me how my thoughts can spiral so quickly out of control in this way. Thanks so much for your comment, and I really hope one day we can all look in the mirror again and see the wonderful women we are – and believe in ourselves again! We deserve it. 🙂

  3. peace4lauren says:

    One thing that helped me immensely deal with the “relationship” portions of postpartum mental illness was bringing my husband to therapy with me. Not all the time of course, but particular instances and roadblocks were much better dealt with when both of us were healing together.-Lauren peaceoutofpieces.com

    • Hi Lauren… I too have often thought taking my HF to my therapy sessions where we discuss our relationship would be beneficial. Thanks so much for your comment! I’m inspired now to take him along and see how we go. I like the idea of dealing with our roadblocks together – makes things that little bit easier!

  4. Isha says:

    I am so glad you have someone so supportive to help hold you up when you don’t feel as strong. You DESERVE him.

    • Thank-you. I tried to reply to your post’s reply (if that makes sense), however it wouldn’t let me! Just wanted to say I too am looking forward to sharing the journey… Is definitely one best shared with others! Thanks again.

  5. Tera says:

    When you posted this I was a mother for almost an entire month. I didn’t know if I would get PPD or not, I was aware of it. I had heard c-sections lead to it but I find as many natural birth mothers as c-section mothers. I am going through something, have now since month 3 or 4. I don’t cry, I don’t feel numb, I just worry. It gets worse when my husband is around. Sometimes I am always just great until he comes home from work, then I just hate him because he could fall out of love with me and leave me, or stay with me out of obligation but really desire someone far batter than me.

    I have thought perhaps these feelings and thoughts we have, because there seem to be so many of us, were part of some primordial mommy behavior that did nothing but benefit us at one time. However, the way our thoughts and feelings work in this day and age cause it to become something that turns on us. We now have supermodels, working lives, Facebook, television, porn, internet, junk food,ex-wives, ex-husbands, exes, cars, freeways, credit cards, nurseries, bad movies, bad cable reality shows, bills, mortgages on and on…

    I have even thought, in my PPD mind, that ages and ages ago perhaps we mated only, then once the baby was born, we wanted little to do with the man and went to live with the women in his tribe who helped feed and care for us while we did nothing but heal from childbirth and concentrated on baby. There was nothing else, a little hunting, gathering, painting some stick figures in a cave, basket weaving… We were also given this awesome super power mommy brain, post birth, that could sniff out the freakiest of freak accidents before they happened, psychic even and we were able to avoid it all and keep our babies safe. These anxious feelings we get now were part of a fright or flight instinct. We were ready to fight, kill, bite, move, do anything to keep our babies safe

    We weren’t into looking for men or even liking father-man for a good two to four years. We were given a vicious bite to keep men at bay, no more mating while we raised this child, no! There were no convenience stores, just harsh winters, wild animals, warring tribes, it all meant that mothers had to really concentrate on the one baby and work hard to keep him alive. After two to four years we’d decide to stay in the tribe or go out and try to find a new caveman to mate with and get absorbed into his bigger and better tribe.

    I also believe that men like HF who stick around were those successful men who had a tribe of women all building his line. He’s the head rooster in the bunch. He mates, can stand the stress of a mothering female so to insure his line he mates again and again, building his family which was a network of females who helped each other and insured the survival of the species. The stronger men who could stick around and understood the post birth females, helped by providing food and protection until the women allowed him fathering duties like teaching males to hunt.

    But doesn’t it rub us females the wrong way now to ever think our men, our one special guy, could have been the head rooster in a flock of cave people? Yes, in my PPD state, in this modern age, where we have come a long way from polyamorous lives (well, some of us, still bad cable TV shows have you believe otherwise) of course it does. Today it is all about monogamy as a functional family unit. I feel we have come a long way but our mothering instincts struggle with these modern lives and we turn on ourselves. In this modern age women often do turn on themselves: aging, weight issues, sex issues….we turn on ourselves. So that is my theory. It helps me to some extent. I will be seeing a doctor for help with the rest.

    I do believe nutrition helps. Many of us begin with deficiencies and post pregnancy find ourselves more and more behind, never catching up. Remember that old tv commercial that said you had to eat like 20 bowls of cereal to get your daily allowance of nutrients. Breastfeeding, worry (our natural, mothering instinct worry) it all zaps important nutrients. We need to fortify to meet demands and that includes vitamins that help stress issues.

    I have found that my main issues are not of hurting my baby, haven’t had that but instead: jealousy of younger, [perceived] nicer, smarter, more interesting and attractive women who are single. When they are with a man I think, God help you if you have babies, if they have babies I want to hug them and tell them they are beautiful. But those younger, single ones…meh. I fear that I have said and done so many mean things to my husband that he will one day think back and view these dark times as a reason to run off or carry on with someone. I would be the first to say, I understand why, then crumble. I fear I am as old, ugly and disgusting inside and out and everyone sees it. I feel alone even when I am next to my husband, I am bored and sick of my inner dialogue and I know he is too. I also feel if I could peel apart the layers and weave everything together I’d have a huge, huge, shapeless mess. Everyday my fears, anxieties and worries slightly morph, I can’t even grasp those slippery suckers. Just when I think I do they change again. But losing the love, understanding and patience of my husband before losing all of him is the main fear.

    • Dear Tera…

      I have read and re-read your comment so many times and each time I get more out of the points you’ve made. Your perspective on what we mothers go through and the reasons why this might be so are fascinating and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the journey you’ve taken me on. So first of all I wanted to simply say – thank-you!

      Secondly, you mentioned you are getting help from you doctor with regard to your thoughts and anxieties and I think this is wonderful. Your circumstances sound to me as those postpartum (natal) anxiety is more the culprit and this, as you’ve said, can by so damaging for both you and the relationship you have with your partner. What I will say though is that if you do work on those layers, I am sure you will find again the wonderful, strong, confident, and determined woman you are and not the huge, shapeless mess you think you will find. Your husband clearly sees all that you truly are and I don’t think for a second he wishes to leave you or your gorgeous family (I’ve been reading your blog!). The steps now are to finding yourself again in all of these thoughts (extremely difficult I know!) and believing your husband is with you because he genuinely wants to be.

      And finally, I want to give you a big hug and just say that whilst your thoughts may feel so damaging and out of control now, with the help of your doctor (and perhaps some personal counselling for you and your husband) you will feel the sunshine again – I promise! As you know, I went through this very process with my thoughts (and at times still slip backwards into that space) but my HF and I are so much stronger now than we ever have been and that’s because we’ve lived this experience together – the ups and the downs. Please know this too will pass and your days will become that little bit brighter with each step as you take them… But please just keep taking them!

      Thanks so much again and I so look forward to reading more about you and your wonderful family soon.

      Take care and big hugs… xx

  6. Jo Fleming says:

    It’s 2015 and I wish id found this blog back in 2012, I had PND after my first little girl who is gorgeous and never been a problem to me, but I too couldn’t shake thoughts and feelings post natally. I’d feel fake in public and had the same problems with my gorgeous husband who is and was completely loving and supportive. Reading this just made me burst into tears as it’s such a relief to understand how the little tasks of life and the anxiety are also a symptom of PND. My husband hasn’t done our laundry for the last two and half years because it drove me so crazy each time he did it wrong in my eyes I had to ban him from going near it as it distressed me too much and I’d be horrible to him whilst he was trying to help. I still have this controlling issue now about the ways things get done but I’m aware of it…

    I kept on crying post natally and took myself to the gp in the end after about 8 months post birth. I had to tell them I had PND which really frustrated me that they hadn’t recognised it as doctors. In the end I asked to be put back on the pill because I blamed the hormone changes were causing my situation. And it did help. I did tell my husband and my mum, and about a year later ….my friends – who were all shocked because I’d looked to be coping so great at the time….

    Now I’m pregnant again – 37 weeks! and trying to be different in lots of ways so that the same thing doesn’t happen again despite the fact that overall I don’t think it’s what we do or don’t do that causes PND, no one can help it, it’s not your fault, and don’t be alone or embarrassed to be a sufferer. PND is still a taboo subject I felt especially with other mums who don’t have it, and you cannot tell who does because we all suffer it in silence.

    I got better, but you have a new insight to depression and what it means which can help you to move on and be a more understanding person. Thanks for this well written blog. Xx

  7. Monique says:

    I feel like I am reading my own life in your blog. Cannot thank you enough for sharing and articulating so vividly what PND is like.

    • A Write Relief... (for PND) says:

      Thank you so much, Monique… your comment is the very reason I started my blog in the first place. I’m so glad you have found it comforting to know you are not alone. Even though I haven’t written in the past year or so, I find it difficult to even think about deactivating my blog because so many people still read it. Thanks again and big hugs to you on this journey xx p.s. your poem is beautiful xx

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