21 February 2017

Huge Welcome to...

Hello all and I am back! I got through the week...just and Jake is back to preschool. But at the age of three I am already hearing "Mummy, I don't feel well" to not go back to school! You are three; how do you even know how to bunk off school?! I didn't work that shit out until I was in college (I know, I was a late developer!) 

Today I have a very brave and honest post on PND from Annarose from A Parenting Survivor on Instagram. This does involve the subject of abortion which Annarose doesn't advocate or disagree with but needed the article to be real and honest.  

I have said a million times and I will continue to, the women that are brave enough to speak out to help others need to be congratulated as doing so will go on to help others seek help. I have published a few PND posts now and I really do hope it helps at least one person to go on to seek help and support.

Over to Annarose and thank you for sharing with Bad Mum! 

Postnatal Depression (PND)  

“To be honest, I’m not actually feeling that great. The whole walk over here I was veering on and off the pavement - half from morning sickness but mostly from praying that I would get hit by a car so I wouldn’t have to deal with this anymore”

I remember very clearly the moment I told my midwife how I was feeling and her reaction. I don’t know what I expected from her but I know it took a lot for me to admit it. I had hit rock bottom. I could barely lift my head with the waves of nausea and fear that seemed to be gripping every part of my body. I was suffering from dreadful morning sickness. The previous night I’d needed to vomit but I’d left a pregnancy magazine in the hallway between my bedroom and the bathroom. It had gotten that bad that even glancing at the happy smiling woman on the cover holding onto her chubby pink baby was killing me. It felt toxic. I couldn’t bear to be near it, see it or touch it. Vomiting over myself in my bed was more preferable than crawling past the damn magazine. So I did.

“Oh dear, that’s a shame. I’m sure you’ll be fine”

When you finally get the courage to admit your feelings to someone, you feel like it’s going to be a cataclysmic event. Most people don’t feel depressed for a couple of days and then decide to seek help. Most people let it go on for weeks and months and don’t realise that the utter sinking feeling, the dark suffocating cloud, the total bleakness and lonely, empty void is actually a thing. Has a name. Well I didn’t. Most people struggle until it becomes unbearable and when you finally tell people it’s like a tidal wave unleashing itself.

Depression and I were old friends. Throughout my pre and early teens we had an unhealthy relationship. When depression first started to sink its claws in I honestly thought I was losing my mind. I convinced myself that I wasn’t normal, that I couldn’t tell anyone what was happening to me because if I did, they would say I was mad and I’d be taken away from my family. Like an expertly abusive partner, it had me in the palm of its manipulative hand. Keeping everything secret, holding it all in, never admitting to anyone the full extent of my utter despair. It took me a long time to deal with and manage my depression as a child. I sought no help so I received no help. I beat it but it left some dreadful scars.

So when those same feelings started to grab at my soul again many years later and the familiar blackness descend, I knew this time I would have to seek help because it wasn’t just about me anymore. I knew I had to open myself up for judgement, inspection, and maybe even derision. The old fears reared their ugly head. You will be called mad, you won’t be allowed to keep your child, you are a bad mother…but this time I was an adult. When it told me to keep quiet, I was able to tell it to jog on. What I didn’t expect however was the absolute patronising dismissal from my midwife.

“Hello…, I’d like to make an enquiry please about…about booking an abortion”

Six or more years ago, if you searched depressed and pregnant it took a really long time for you to find any sort of proper information. There was one website which was basically a chat room full of comments from terrified, desperate women, destroyed by prenatal depression. Some had abortions booked and were searching for guidance/reassurance. Some had gone on to have abortions and were looking for validation/comfort. Some lone voices had been through it, got through the other side, had their baby and the depression had lifted. There was judgement, name calling, nastiness. I clung, clung onto one thread from a woman promising that if you just kept going, just gave it a few more months then you would get through it like she had been able to. I must have visited that page about 10 times a day. But depression is depression and when my partner came home from work and found me too scared to crawl past a pregnancy magazine, paralysed in a panic attack that had me hallucinating my 11 year old self had walked into the room and sat on the bottom of my bed, even he knew enough was enough. Ever so gently, he allowed me to voice the unthinkable. Say the unspeakable. Just weeks previously we shared tears of utter joy at this new path in our lives. Now we were blinking into an abyss neither of us had anticipated. When I made the call to the clinic I was repeatedly asked if I was sure. I could barely talk and I think the staff member could sense my state of mind. She was kind though. Kind, gentle and non-judgemental giving me many assurances that I could call and cancel at any time.

The following day my letter arrived from the hospital with the date of my first scan. It was the same date as the abortion was booked. It felt like more than a coincidence. I was at a crossroads.

“Hello, I’d like to cancel my appointment please, I’m sorry but it’s no longer required.”

I don’t believe that anyone who considers an abortion, wants to be in that position. No one chooses that path wilfully or willingly. The guilt was overwhelming but I felt helpless without choice. Instagram hadn’t been invented, there was barely any information on the internet, I had no idea what it was that I had and my Midwife had dismissed my admission that I wanted to die in less time than it took me to tell her.

Ironically, it was booking the abortion that gave me the breathing space I needed to make a clear decision. In that moment, I was back in control. I had taken charge of my body. I was back to deciding who, what and when. For the first time in weeks, there was a stillness in my mind. Aside from the constant nausea and vomiting it’s hard to explain the feeling. I think it stemmed from the fact that I had begun to feel lost. I wasn’t just me anymore. I felt like everything I was and everything I had was slipping away. My identity was going, my body had been claimed by someone else. I’d spend almost the entire day in tears and almost the entire night wide awake and frozen with fear. I just felt utterly alone and completely detached from everything. I was losing myself and I was terrified. I wanted it all to stop. I wanted it all to end and honestly, I just wanted to die.

Looking back, I think it was purely my experience with depression that saved me and thinking about the whole time again, I’m not really sure how we made it all through. I knew I was depressed, but I didn’t know about pre-natal depression. I knew it could go away, but I didn’t know how to do it as a pregnant person. The turning point came when I admitted how I was feeling to my partner. My depression didn’t want me to tell other people, it wanted me all to itself so it could consume me, isolate me and destroy me. Telling someone I trusted, that cared about me above all others, was like that tidal wave I mentioned earlier. I let it all out and was able to share the pain with someone I loved that loved me back.

“Okay now, I know you are tired but you are going to have to give me one last push and then your baby will be here okay”

It’s a terrible tragedy my Midwife didn’t take me seriously and my life (and that of my unborn child) could have taken a dramatic turn had I not had the support of my partner. I ache for the women that might have gone to her before or after me in the same situation that she also fobbed off and made to feel stupid. I often think about the mums whose comments I read on that chat room – what did they do, how did they cope, did they go through with it? I rejoice however in the Insta community and the knowledge that there is a huge amount more information out there now. When I became pregnant for the second time, I was prepared. And when I told this Midwife that I had struggled with Prenatal Depression with my first pregnancy she was understanding, compassionate, supportive and extremely helpful. It was a completely different experience. It saddens me though that we still don’t talk about depression enough in pregnancy and afterwards. It took up until the day of the bookings before I cancelled it. I still felt no attachment to the baby growing inside me, I still felt a black cloud around me, I was still vomiting hourly but, and it’s a big but, I didn’t feel alone anymore. I felt stronger. I booked myself into CBT counselling. I talked regularly to my other half. I made myself get up, get out, get fresh air. I used all the tools I had developed when I was a child to get me through it. And I was lucky that I caught it before it did consume me and I am grateful that I had that support to tap into. I wanted to see my child on that scan screen. I wanted to feel happy again. I wanted to be a mum.

My daughter was born 6 months later. Healthy and happy to a healthy and happy mum. 


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