Postnatal Depression: The monster in my closet…

Due to a comment I received on my previous post, “Postnatal Depression:  A day in the life…“, I’m putting in a picture of how I imagine my Postnatal Depression Monster to look.  I have often joked in previous blogs about how I refer to my PND-M as a “he”, not a “she”.  For me, the answer was one I really had to think about.  But in the end, I believe it’s simply because monster’s are usually huge and strong in a physical sense.  This has NOTHING to do with my vision of inner strength as I believe “she” monsters would have that in droves too!  And besides, my monster isn’t too scary looking in my mind.  He isn’t “negative” in the frightening sense of what a monster’s image might conjure up for some.  He is actually quite cute… However, he is uninvited, distracting, and impacting my life in a negative way at this time.

My analogy of comparing my PND to a “monster” centres around my needing to visualise something physical to push back behind a door, to physically move something aside when it’s in the way, to feel victorious when I can no longer see it.  My analogy has my PND-M living in a closet of which he comes out whenever he feels like it to make his presence felt.  It is back into this closet I imagine myself pushing him, or beating him back with a broom (when I’m feeling strong enough).  Perhaps this is also the reason why I see my PND as a monster, because if he were human I would be in all kinds of trouble for my rough handling of the situation!  It is my intense hope that one glorious day I will be able to dispose of this closet all together and live my life free from the monster lurking within  (nb:  my closet is obviously free-standing, as otherwise I would need to move house!).  Whilst I also refer to my depression as a “weight” or a “cloud”, these are things much less tangible if I find myself wanting (or needing) to have the satisfaction of defeating them on any given day.  I really hope this makes sense.

So, please find below an image of my PND-M as he appears to me… I am very much hoping he can become a memory in my past of whom I can be proud of knowing and sharing this time with.  One day I know this will be the case… Just not at the moment.  🙂

I hope today is a great day for you,

TSM  xx

Postnatal Depression: A day in the life…

I’ve posted before about days I’ve shared with the dreaded Postnatal Depression Monster (PND-M) jumping up and down demanding my attention (Postnatal Depression:  My shower, my sanctuary), and today has been yet another one of those days… Those suffocatingly dark, ugly, hurtful, and just plain YUK days.  I have to be honest and say I really don’t like writing when I’m feeling like this, but then I also know that this is real… This is what it means to have a “down” day and I would be lying if I didn’t let you know exactly how that feels for me.  And besides, writing it down sometimes helps me clear the muddled mess.  Sometimes.

Before I get into anything further, please just know I am not proud of myself on days such as these.  No wait.  Sometimes I am proud of the way I can place my “I’m-coping-just-fine” mask firmly in place and get on with my day as though absolutely nothing is wrong.  But there are other days of which I’m most definitely not proud.  Those days, like today, where everything gets the better of me from the moment I wake up and I lose all control.  All sense of reason and rational thought go flying out the window.  Those days when the reality of my situation sinks to the core of my being and I just can’t take it anymore.  When my instinct is to run… just run away and never look back.  Surely I would be better off on my own, right?  Surely my HF and my family would be so much happier if I just wasn’t here… right?

The PND-M has been literally beating me up today.  I am bruised, battered, and at a loss as to what to do.  He’s a hard beast to take on at the best of times and today he’s had the upper hand ALL day.  I feel like he hasn’t even let me come up for air, and it’s that suffocating feeling that terrifies me the most.  Instead of being able to rationally deal with what’s going on within my family, all I hear are mumbled versions of what people are trying to say.  All I see are looks in my direction implying no one has any idea what I’m talking about.  All I feel is the dread of knowing I have nothing left to offer anyone, let alone my family who need such a stronger, better person on whom they can rely than the broken version they currently have.

On days like this, it feels like everything I try to say gets filtered by the PND-M and what comes out of my mouth is bitter, twisted, and a cruel, hurtful version of the words I’m actually trying to say.  My ability to communicate with others, and with myself, is non-existent and I drown in the feeling of helplessness it creates.  I snap.  I react.  I don’t even think twice.  I hear myself saying things – viscous things – that shock me to the very core of who I am.  And all the while, that nasty PND-M just sits there in the back of my mind laughing at me.  Taking great pleasure in my pain, as if knowing if it weren’t for his presence my family would be a great deal better off.

But is it the PND-M’s influence?  Is he really the reason I act like this?  Or is this just me now?  I get so confused.  And so incredibly scared the latter is true.

A while ago I read a quote on A Beautiful Mess Inside ‘s blog, she said:

“I think our beauty and our mess go together and are simply parts of a whole, worthwhile, and lovable human being. The mess gives our lives texture, richness, and depth.” 

Whilst I know these words to be true, I just can’t see it nor feel it today.  I am desperately hoping against all hope tomorrow provides me the clarity I need to get things back on track.  I don’t have that clarity right now, in fact I’m struggling to just keep moving forward against the pressure of this cloud.  Surely the light through this darkness can’t be too far away, can it? Please don’t let it be too far.  I think I just need to go to bed so I can awaken tomorrow to a new day.

Through it all though, I do know I’m not the only person who’s ever felt this way… This (dare I say it) depressed.  But isn’t it absolutely amazing how isolated and alone you feel when your depression does overwhelm you… When those feelings take over your whole body, particularly your ability to reason and maintain control of everything you know to be true about yourself.  When the only question you want answered is:  Will this ever end?

I sincerely hope you are having a much better day and my apologies for not having anything more positive to say.  Next time… I promise.

TSM  xx

Remember:

Post Natal Depression Awareness Week is 18 – 24 November.  Please help spread the message that post natal depression is not all black and white.

Over 45,500 women and 14,000 men (15 per cent of women and 5 per cent of men) will be diagnosed with postnatal depression in Australia this year.   The more we talk, the more we can improve the well being of Australian families.

If you or someone you know needs help you can all the PANDA national helpline on 1300 726 306 or visit www.panda.org.au

Postnatal Depression: A letter to my Handsome Fiance…

Dearest Handsome Fiance,

Today is your birthday and I feel more love for you than I’ve ever felt before.  At this moment in time, I’m overwhelmed by your commitment, loyalty, love, and dedication to not only our family, but to me personally. You are a truly amazing and compassionate man, and I will forever be grateful to fate for allowing our paths to cross.

The past 18 months for us, since the birth of our LM, have been so wonderful, yet so devastating for our relationship in so many different ways.  To be honest, few days go by I don’t wonder why on earth you are still here, still putting up with my erratic moods and irrational thoughts.  I am forever asking myself:  “What did I do to deserve this incredible man?”  Yes, things have been getting better for us.  And yes, we’ve both worked extremely hard to ensure our relationship has not become a victim of my postnatal depression diagnosis.  But the nagging thought (yes, that nasty PND-M) in the back of my mind continues to remind me that you didn’t sign up for this… You didn’t ask to be confronted and impacted by such a powerful and destructive illness.  You didn’t fall in love with a broken woman. 

But here I am… broken. 

And here you are… Loving me in all my “brokeness”, reminding me daily I’m the most important thing in your world.

So today, I want to remind you that you are definitely the most important thing in my world and always will be.  I know I have placed our relationship under considerable stress and strain over the past 18 months and even though you haven’t always understood what was going on, you continued to be my greatest supporter.  The look in your eyes during those early days whilst I was having my “meltdowns” showed me your confusion and uncertainty first hand, but you stuck by me.  And from the day we received my diagnosis, I watched you learn to “manage” my moods and emotions in a way I never thought you capable… But there you were, standing tall and always being the better person to ensure things didn’t get out of hand.  You worked with me tirelessly to help me understand which parts of me were real and which were a result of my depression.  I completely underestimated your capabilities – they have proved amazing!   And for that I will be forever in your debt.

We’ve spoken a lot recently about how much things have improved with my depression, how things are feeling less difficult and more “normal” (whatever that means).  So much so, I’ve even found myself daydreaming about life in a way I haven’t done since our LM was born.  I have your love, respect, and support to thank for this.  Without you, I believe whole-heartedly I wouldn’t be here today sharing my feelings with you, thanking you for everything you have brought to my life.  I shudder to think what dealing with postnatal depression without your warmth and understanding would have meant.  Because together, we are stronger today than we ever have been. 

So… Happy Birthday, my amazingly Handsome Fiance.  You are my everything… Every day, in every possible way.  I know it sounds corny, but it’s true.  I love you to the ends of the earth and back again… And much, much more.

Yours forever and always,

TSM xx

Postnatal Depression: “Not very how…”

It’s hard to describe to others what postnatal depression feels like…  An invisible weight you can’t lift.  An insurmountable barrier between you and the rest of the world.  A dark cloud hovering constantly overhead.  An intense feeling of isolation, of  incredible loneliness.  A grey fog constantly blinding your way.  An inability to just simply breathe.  A loss of control sparking intense anxiety.  A constant state of distress over what is real within you and what is not.  A suffocating sense of helplessness.  A crippling abandonment of all those you love the most.  A fear of failure you wear every day… And so, so many other things.

On September 13th it was R U OK Day and a few days after I read a wonderful post at Heart Mama, called “Not very how” (written by Zanni Arnot).  I was incredibly touched by Zanni’s approach to, and support for, the R U OK philosophy.  So today, even though a month on, I thought I would share her post with you here.  A summary of her key points though, if you don’t have time to read her post in full, are as follows:

Sometimes a question is all that is takes.

One day is all that it takes.

Sometimes a conversation is all that it takes.

Not everyone is so lucky.

You may not know someone is struggling, until you ask.

Let’s not wait for a specific day to care about those around us.  Let’s make sure we do it EVERY day.  Even if someone doesn’t feel like sharing at the time, trust me, the thought and knowledge that you care about them may be all that’s required to get them through the next minute, hour, day, or week.

Please don’t underestimate the difference you can make.

Until next time, take care.

TSM  xx