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.