Postnatal Depression: My shower, my sanctuary…

“Young woman taking a shower” (Kazuya Akimoto)

So late yesterday afternoon I found myself in the shower, standing under the hot, steaming water, willing the darkness away… begging it to go away.   It had engulfed me from the moment I had awoken and its ugly weight had been bearing down on me all day.  I was tired, but mostly I was angry.  So incredibly angry.  Little things were driving me unnecessarily crazy.  What the hell was going on?  By the time my HF arrived home from work, I was ready to lose it… really lose it.   So in my mind, the only option I had was to escape.   “I’m having a shower,” I grumbled as I pushed passed him on my way to our ensuite.  “Sure, babe.  Whatever you have to do,” came his reply.  Even his understanding made me angry!

When I’m feeling this far under the cloud of my postnatal depression, the only option I have is to place myself in “timeout”.  I can’t be around people, I can no longer pretend to be okay with the world when I am so clearly not.  And most of all, I can’t stand myself when I’m feeling and acting this way.  I can’t look at myself in the mirror without feeling disgusted by what I see, who I’ve turned into.  I can’t budge the ever-present guilt of the damage such moods cause my family.   So, with all that being said, I’ve had to find a sanctuary within our home I can escape to during such times of need.  And that sanctuary for me is the shower.  It is the one place I can truly be on my own, in my own space, alone with my own thoughts… uninterrupted.  A place I feel safe.

Today I came across a post by Jenny from Tranquilamama, entitled “Split personality” (appearing as a guest blogger at PPD to Joy).  I was obviously meant to come across this post for a reason.  The rage described in Jenny’s post is exactly the rage I find brewing within myself during these dark times.  Her physical symptoms leading up to these moments, whilst different to mine in many ways, are also very similar.  That feeling, that innate NEED, to simply run away from wherever you are to ANYWHERE else is the one symptom I find I absolutely share with Jenny.  It is one of the definite triggers I have to warn me of upcoming and pending disaster if I don’t act NOW (a whole other blog post in itself).   It is sometimes very difficult to get a handle on what’s happening in time to avoid my meltdowns, but I’m finding my ability to do this is getting better as time goes on (and, just quietly, I think my HF is better at identifying them too).  Hence, my need for a sanctuary, somewhere I can run to avoid turning into the dreaded Ms Hyde Jenny describes so well.

Fortunately for me, a well-timed shower late yesterday afternoon provided the tension relief I desperately needed and I was able to get through our evening without further problems.  I was still tired, but the anger had subsided to a lesser degree of agitation and my HF was extremely considerate in not encroaching too much on the space I still craved.  It’s an awful and upsetting situation to find yourself in…  Standing under the shower, water beating down on you, begging for the heat and steam to ease the anger and tension you feel within yourself.  All of this, just so you can walk out and face your family again – without the fear of losing control, or worse, having a complete emotional meltdown.

The hardest thing to admit about yesterday’s cloud though, is that yesterday was probably a better day in many ways than other days have been.   I went shopping with the LM, we bought some great winter clothes specials and did the grocery shop.  I enjoyed a latte and scones at a nice cafe while he ate his morning tea, we laughed and had (it seemed) a great time.  To anyone else looking at us we would have been the perfect picture of a wonderful “mother-son outing”.   Yet I felt the full force of my PND symptoms the whole time.  My mask was firmly in place all day yesterday, and by the time I returned home it was suffocating me beyond belief.  How truly horrifying is that… I can only hope my LM’s recollection of such times with me are not tainted in the same way.  Please, let this be the case.

Thanks so much as always for sharing your time with me.  This was one post I definitely needed to get off my chest, and very much thank Jenny for helping me do that.

Until next time, take care.

TSM  xx

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14 thoughts on “Postnatal Depression: My shower, my sanctuary…

  1. T, I am so, so glad that my post helped you out. I love my shower, and it is a sanctuary for me on the weekends. I physically have to remove myself from the situation to avoid getting triggered further.

    You are working so hard, and the mask can be suffocating. Your LM will remember what a kind and loving mother you are. His memories won’t be tainted. You are coping and facing this PND head on. You are getting better, and one beautiful day you will be completely recovered. I know this. Hugs.

  2. Thanks so much for such a lovely reply, Jenny. I appreciate it more than you know. I think the hardest thing is the guilt we each experience worrying about the impact this awful illness has on our children. Your kind words have definitely made me feel better. Hope you’re enjoying a wonderful day. x

  3. Laura says:

    So sorry you had a rough day! I’m glad the shower was there to help you. It’s okay that you felt so upset on what “should” have been a good day. We can’t control the way we feel. Who knows what makes one day good and one day bad. I know I sure don’t!

    Also, I can totally relate to little things making me angry. The only difference is I tend to break down and cry when things reach a head. There’s so much to tackle on a daily basis, and sometimes it’s just too much. Hope the PPD gives you a little break after yesterday!

    • Hi Laura… Thanks so much for your support. I think the most difficult thing for me is the guilt of feeling as though I’ve wasted so many of those “good” days with my LM (and family for that matter) being clouded by my depression. It’s been a really hard month, for whatever reason, and I’m just keeping my fingers crossed things will get better soon. Thanks so much again.

      • Laura says:

        I understand that guilt. Believe me. Weren’t you the one who wrote about how we can only offer what we’re capable of at the time (or something like that)? I try to remind myself of that. We’re doing our best. In the end, I hope that’s enough.

      • Ah, you’ve caught me out! 🙂 Yes, that was me… I think I need to remember to take my own advice (although is hard at times). Thanks so much for the reminder, Laura… I will endeavour to keep that very thought in mind over the weekend. x

      • Laura says:

        I loved that quote! I try to remind myself of it too!

  4. mummymishy says:

    I am so sorry you are going through this. I am fortunate to have never suffered PND, so I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must be, but I do want you to know that you have been heard and that I salute you as a mother for putting on that “mask” for your kids. You are more courageous, more strong and more beautiful than you give yourself credit for.

    I wish you happiness.

  5. S says:

    I could have written this myself, except with two little ones on my own there’s no chance of sanctuary til they’re in bed . Thanks for sharing. x

    • S, I have always thought what it would be like having to deal with how I feel if I had another child also… And I can’t imagine it. I struggle so much as it is. I am in awe of all those mums out there experiencing PND, but particularly those who have more than one child. I’m hoping your sanctuary after your littlies are in bed is as soothing as my shower is for me… Giving you big hugs!

  6. Laura Barnes says:

    TSM – thank you for having the strength and courage to share your struggle. I think ‘rage’ is the one symptom of any pp illness we all tend to avoid discussing. Personally it scares the heck out of me. And with it comes so much shame & guilt its just suffocating sometimes. Like you & Jenny I too feel the need to just run away. And when that’s not an option, which a lot of times it isn’t when I’m home alone with kids & my husband is at work all day, I break down and cry to try and relieve that tension.
    Back when my pp depression/anxiety was at its worst I really did consider just leaving, feeling my family would be so much better off without me. I even went as far as thinking my husband could remarry a woman who was much more ‘sound in mind’ and be a better mom than I could. Fortunately I sought help immediately and have made MAJOR improvements! But still my biggest fear, like you mentioned, is that my kids will suffer from all this. That ‘mask’ is sooo difficult & exhausting to keep wearing day in and day out. But I think for both of us there is a light at the end of the tunnel. One day, and who knows when that day will be, I firmly believe we will no longer need that mask.
    Thank you again for writing this. I can’t tell you and all the other women out there who post their stories for the public to read how THANKFUL i am. It gives me such a boost to hear I’m not the only one! 🙂

  7. Laura, my goodness… thank you so much for your comment. The reason I continue blogging my thoughts, even when they are extremely difficult to write about, is because I had wished there were stories that could have helped me when I was at my worst. Now I know there are so many wonderful mums out there experiencing the same things and it’s an amazing community of which to be a part. I too think (still) my HF would be better off with someone else, enjoying a “simpler” life, without all the hard work. This feeling is the hardest for me to shift as I continually feel so incredibly guilty for all I’m putting him through. It just doesn’t seem fair. But hopefully one day, as you say, my mask will no longer be required and all will be well with our world again. Soon, I hope! 🙂

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