Thursday, 8 September 2016

DO I HAVE POST NATAL DEPRESSION?

Do I have postnatal depression?

This week is PND Awareness week and for those of you not familiar with PND it stands for Post Natal Depression. I wanted to write about my own experience with PND, something that I have never spoken about on the blog before or actually said out loud... to anyone (except my husband)!  There are often times that I want to put things onto the blog that are very real and very honest but I fear that opening up too much may scare people off, however I've realised that this is my space, and I know that I'd rather read the reality than the fluffed up stuff.  This topic is a tough one to talk about but I feel like it's important.

When I first had Oscar of course there were days after his birth where I was teary but that was definitely down to the lack of sleep and the general adjustment to life with a newborn.  However, I wouldn't say that I ever felt depressed, I've always been a person who just gets on with things and I think I'm pretty good at putting all the bad stuff to the back of my head and rationalising difficult situations.

A few months ago it all came to a head and I hit an all time low.  I knew what was going on but saying it out loud was really scary and in honesty I didn't really want to admit it to myself.  I was suffering with mild depression.  I say mild because for the most part I feel great and I am happy.  I have no real worries in life and there is nothing that I can pin point that would be triggering me to feel unhappy.  However, it became apparent to me just after I returned to work after maternity leave that I wasn't always feeling myself.  I firstly put it down to being at work and away from Oscar, things at work weren't great and I found myself in a situation where I was being pushed out. I eventually left my job and within a few weeks I found a new job, things were great again.  I loved my new job and I was finally feeling like me.  The weeks and months rolled by and to this day I still enjoy my job, however those sad days, those days where I just don't want to leave the house or do anything at all, they are still hanging around.  A few months ago I decided to tell my husband about it.  It was really tough, he was pretty upset as I blurted it out over a whatsapp message, that wasn't my intention but that day it had been particularly hard and I had been crying on and off most of the day for no real reason at all. When he came home that night we sat down and I told him everything.  He was upset that he hadn't noticed, but how would he.  I wasn't walking around holding up a sign that said I think I have PND, It wasn't his fault and I did not want him to feel bad about it.  

Did I really have depression? was it PND? I wasn't sure all I knew was that something had changed. Whilst I can't say that it completely affects my life, because for the most part it doesn't, it does on occasion dampen my spirits and sometimes I can't make sense of it.  I am not on any sort of medication for it as I don't feel that it is severe enough to warrant me seeking help in that way, however, I am aware that if it was to get any worse that I would need to do something about it!  My husband is so supportive and since talking about it he does notice when I am having a down day, he's tuned into my emotions pretty well and it's actually really helped me.  When I do feel down or sad I'll tell him and we talk through it.

PND is a mental illness, and like most mental illnesses it can't be seen from the outside.  Sometimes it may be evident to others around you that you're unhappy, distance, withdrawn but unless you walk around holding up a sign that says I have PND it's unlikely that anyone will truly know what is wrong.  PND is often confused with the 'baby blues', however the blues are a temporary side effect of having a newborn and they don't last forever, PND on the other hand can hang around for months even years.  When I first started feeling down and upset about things I questioned myself, was I just having a bad day or was I suffering depression.  As the symptoms and feelings continued I started wondering if this was PND?  Since having Oscar my view on the world has most definitely changed, I'm definitely more emotional than I ever was before and I am most definitely more sensitive to situations than I maybe would have been in the past.  Something changed when I had Oscar, I'm not sure what or when but it did.  PND is not something that happens immediately after birth, it can take weeks, months or even years to creep up on you.  For me it was months. 

I've been living with PND now for almost a year and I am not ashamed to admit that somedays I feel a bit sh*t. I've accepted that something changed after having Oscar but it does not define me. For the most part I completely fine, happy go lucky and unaffected.  I am still Oscar's mum, I love him to no end but now there's this extra part of me, PND!  It's a bit of d*ck at times but I also have my husband, my sounding board, the one who listens to me, hugs me when I need it and helps me through the sh*t days.  Although the level of PND that I have experienced is extremely mild it's still there.  

So, here it is, a shout out to all those mums who have days where they feel like a bag of sh*t, who feel like nothing they do is right, who question themselves and feel guilty for feeling down, who'd rather veg into the sofa and can't wait for the sun to go down, to you, I want to say it's ok, don't be afraid to seek help, don't be afraid to talk about it and don't allow it to define you because YOU are YOU and this is just an added quirk!  Here's to PND Awareness week and speaking out for support.

Kirsty x

*If you or anyone you know are experiencing or think you may be experiencing PND then please reach out and seek some advice and support, PANDAS UK are a fantastic free resource for anyone looking to talk or gain some advice, visit their site HERE






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