The post before last I wrote about the fact that I suffered with post natal depression after I had Penelope. After I wrote the post, and put a link to it on Facebook, one of my Facebook friends contacted me to say that she'd read the post and wondered if she could talk to me about it. She had recently been diagnosed with PND and said that I was the only other person she knew that had experienced it.
Statistics show that approximately 1 in 10 mothers in the UK experience PND so it's not that uncommon. After I admitted to having it, I found it surprising that a number of my friends, whilst not being formally diagnosed, had certainly felt low for a while after having their babies.
There does still seem to be a bit of a stigma attached to it as plenty of people feel that by admitting to having PND they are also admitting to being a bad mother. This isn't true but then PND can put all sorts of thoughts in your head which aren't all that rational. I was absolutely petrified that Penelope would stop sleeping at night when there was no indication this would happen at all. Although given my experience of Max as a baby this worry was perhaps not without some foundation.
S wondered whether I had any hints or tips for coping with PND and I said I found the following useful:
1. Actually talking about that fact that I was suffering from PND was a major winner. Just admitting that everything in the garden wasn't rosy was a huge help and seemed to lift a weight off my shoulders;
2. The magic tablets - some people think that taking anti-depressants is an admission of failure but it's not! In my view drugs were invented for a reason (I held much the same opinion during childbirth!) so why not use them. OK I ended up having to take more pills for the side effects of the anti-depressants (!) but they definitely worked;
3. Getting out each day, even if it was only for a hour helped. I think a change of scenery can always be useful; and
4. Once the magic tablets had started to work, I found something quite therapeutic in housework, hence the reason why Paul nicknamed them my "cleaning tablets". As we only finished our extension just before I had Penelope (carpets were being laid whilst I was in hospital!), doing some cleaning meant I actually felt like I was achieving something. As most of the rooms had been upside down during the building works, just sorting things out was strangely satisfying.
Not all of these will obviously work for everyone but they helped me. What, I hope, S found helpful is the fact that I somehow symbolise a light at the end of the tunnel, in that I've made it through PND and come out the other side. There is, therefore, hope that things won't feel as miserable for her as they do at the moment. It's nice for me to know that my blog has, in some very small way, helped someone else.
If anyone out there is suffering than all I can do is encourage you to reach out for the support you need. Speak to your health visitor, your doctor, your friends - you are not alone.
S - sending you lots of love, hugs and happy thoughts - you WILL make it through it and you are a brilliant mum. There's no shame in PND at all.
Been there, done that, taken the anti-depressants xx