All I can do is tell you my story. It's my experience of the hell that is Post Natal Depression. It doesn't mean my symptoms are anything like yours or anyone else's for that matter. They were my experiences and mine alone.
I carried them alone for four and a half years before I begged someone for help.
Four and a half years of not loving a child enough, not wanting to cuddle that child enough, not wanting to get out of bed enough to be a parent and not wanting to function enough.
Four and a half years of ground hog day, of a dark cloud of disappointment of motherhood and all I'd expected.
Four and a half years of hatred of my child's father for leaving me alone to deal with this on my own, inadequate and scared. In fact scared isn't the appropriate word, terrified is more like it. Terrified this child would go through life unloved and resented. Passed back and forth between a mother who was useless and concerned grandparents.
For Four and a half years I got up at 8am, fed a child, dressed a child, played with a child, took that child to nursery, worked to earn money to feed and clothe that child and pay for someone else to look after it, cooked for that child, read to that child and put that child to bed with no emotion other than sadness and grief.
For four and half years I went though every daily motion required of me unmoved by my new role other than to feel sad.
For four and a half years I partied hard when I could and escaped my jail whenever I humanely could.
Then one day I woke up and thought this wasn't me. I was a loved child, there was no need for me to not be a loving mother. I was spoiled with every emotion a child has a right to and was happy. When I was pregnant I was happy, I knew I was doing it alone then so there was no excuse. The day I gave birth I was happy and when I held her I was happy, when had it changed? The week I spent in hospital after a traumatic few hours after birth I'd felt happy, elated. Almost too elated! Then the day I got out of hospital and went to stay with my parents for a few weeks the visitors poured in, no one thought to let me get used to this alone for even one day. I was 21, scared but on a high and struggling to even change a nappy alone in my parents home, not my home. Not my home with my baby girl. I slunk off to the bathroom and sobbed, but that wasn't when it changed.
Then people started wanting time with my baby girl alone, they wanted to take her walks and take her away from me. The battle with her father was hotting up and every time they took her from me in the blink of an eye I thought how easily he could take her from me for good. People wanted to feed her,bath her, changed her, wind her, friends of my parents and family rallied to help the poor helpless single mother caught in an unpleasant battle with someone she'd trusted and took pity. All I wanted was to be left to look after my baby girl my lovely little baby girl I'd waited so long for and fought to keep regardless of the threat I'd had of medical complications and peoples judgements of a girl on her own having a child that she 'shouldn't, but still that wasn't when it changed.
By the time my little one was two weeks old I would sit and sob uncontrollably. Her father hadn't been to see her. None of his family would answer my calls. I still hadn't made it out alone with her as I never had alone time with her full stop. My own friends didn't have time for me as they were all 21 and having a good time and my life had been in London and my friends at home and I had drifted apart while I was there before baby. Other people had been out walking with MY new pram the one I paid for alone, they had fed my baby the one I fought to keep alone. That was how I felt then. That was when things changed.
I started to look on myself as a depressed childminder. Everyone else was so chuffed with this child and everything I had supplied and cared for her with. No one once asked how I was feeling. No one once thought how the situation may be affecting me. No doctors or health visitors or midwifes asked how I felt. Everyone talked about this child and how the situation I'd created would affect her as she grew and how I hadn't done the right thing by her and I could feel myself slipping into a darkness. I tried to ignore it and thought at the time I needed to move back to my own place and get us into a routine just us and after 3 weeks I did. In hindsight if I'd stayed longer with my parents they may have picked up on what was wrong with me sooner and I may have had help but in my haze I saw everyone as the enemy.
So I moved home and carried on my routine as the person in charge of a small child. I did everything required of an adequate carer. Everything except feel love. That had gone and at the time I was too sad to know why but just assumed it would grow with time. It didn't.
The longer I left it the further it felt from me until I was numb and unfeeling. I hated myself every day and punished myself every way I could. All the people who had helped so tirelessly when she was born were pushed as far away as I could get them and I went through every motion necessary to do my 'job' as carer.
Then one morning four and a half years later I woke up in a blind panic. It was tell someone or end it all for myself. I knew my child would be taken care of. Her grandparents were amazing and wonderful with her and she adored them. They were everything I was incapable of being. I sat in bed sobbing and wondering how I would end my life and when. Then, in came a little girl. A beautiful little girl with lovely brown curls and a sleepy look on her face. Something made me realise that little girl didn't deserve the legacy of her mothers death hanging over her as well as the lack of a wasteful father who as yet hadn't seen her, paid for her or even contacted her. I phoned my Dad and sobbed uncontrollably down the phone in inaudible hysteria and he 'got it'. My Dad and I have always been close but he knew. He hadn't known it was PND but thought I was just about coping with depression and thought all would be ok. Little did he know how close it had come to not being ok. He phoned his GP and explained what I had said and they both rushed round to me. My Dad took my little girl away and the doctor stayed with me and calmed me until he could make sense of what I was saying. He pretty much knew what was going on for himself but wanted to get me more help.
He gave me a few tranquilisers, just enough to see me through two days and to get some much needed sleep and referred me privately at my Dads request to a clinic for phsycological assessment. I only had to wait a week and my Dad ran me there for every appointment and sat through everything with me while my mum raised my child . Unwavering support the unconditional love of my parents. It was diagnosed on my first appointment and I was referred from there to see a phsycologist where I had counselling and behavioural therapy's.
I had a short period of time on medication which helped but made me very spaced out. The counselling helped the most. It didn't happen overnight but I found every day easier with my lovely little girl. I got to know her again and grew to love her again. It was amazing it almost came naturally. We cuddled and spent endless times playing together. I was signed off work for 6 months and in that time got to spend a lot of time with her and also a lot of time and space alone to get to know who I was again and to discover fun. Not silly partying fun, proper fun. A simple walk on the beach alone on a winters day could make me feel human again.
By the time my girlie was 6 I remember sitting sobbing my heart out again, but not this time because of the failures I felt but because I was a Mum. The kind of Mum who loved, nurtured and cherished a beautiful little girl that I was so lucky to have.It had been there all along. The PND had just clouded it. Around that time I was diagnosed with type 2 bi polar which made me have my own ups and downs but through it all I was a mum and I never let the demons return with my precious child and I.
Having my next child 11 years after the first was a tense time for my husband and I as I had a fear of it happening again. I spent months shaking and stressed about it happening and not loving this next baby. Sure enough PND reared its ugly head again the day after my little boy was born but it took another form completely. It was a fear of leaving him, it was a fear of being without him 24 hours a day. I pushed everyone else away and had to keep my children especially the baby right with me excluding all others. I feared him sleeping alone and couldn't manage a single second without him. I feared him getting sick or worse and smothered my family to breaking point. Luckily for me this time round the professionals were on the lookout and I was seen within 6 months by councillors. I am still a work in progress with my bi polar but I well and truly kicked PNDs butt second time round.
I think myself lucky every day now to have had all the help and support I've had from all my family and friends who've been there throughout and to have 2 such amazing children whom I love and would lay down my life for. That's being a mother. I am a mother and a survivor of the demon that is Post Natal Depression.