Postnatal Depression. It’s not always black and white
Did you know that this past week has been Postnatal Depression Awareness Week? I have tried to write this post three times now, which is why I am sharing at the end of the week rather than earlier, but I am passionate about raising awareness and want to actually get something posted.
Right now, James and I are at Number 4. Packing, cleaning, tending to the house and sleeping in because we are childless.
We are childless because my mum, my husband and I have made a point of being aware of my PND and made the appropriate steps to give me – and them – a break.
Being aware of my feelings, moods and triggers is a huge part of my management plan.
Almost exactly 2 years ago, however, I was hospitilised because I didn’t pay attention to the signs that I wasn’t coping. In fact, I didn’t know the signs because after my initial diagnosis, 5 months before, I thought I could take my medication and pretend nothing had happened.
By that time, I had been suffering from postnatal depression for 33 and a half months. Or, since Ellie’s birth.
When I first brought her home, all I wanted was to be a good mum. The best mum. I thought that the exhaustion, crying – about everything, anything and nothing, anxiety, irritability, loss of confidence and self-esteem and complete and utter overwhelm would go away with time. I thought if I wanted it bad enough, it would dissipate and I would be that mum I always dreamt of being.
I thought that if I admitted to not coping I would be a lesser mum. A bad mum.
Once I was officially diagnosed, I didn’t talk about it with anyone but James. I didn’t want to disappoint. I didn’t want to be seen as being weak, which is how I saw myself.
I had no idea that I was one of many.
- One in 7 new mums and 1 in 20 new dads are diagnosed with postnatal depression each year in Australia – that’s 15 per of mums and 5 per cent of dads
And I didn’t know my silence was part of the problem.
- Lack of community awareness often contributes to parents remaining undiagnosed
The stigma surrounding PND and all mental illnesses is a dangerous one. We need to talk, be open and honest. We need to tell our stories and raise awareness for others but also for ourselves. We need to be able to speak up and ask for help because doing that and getting healthy is the best thing for our families.
Postnatal depression can’t be ignored. It doesn’t just go away. Admitting that you’re struggling doesn’t make you weak and it’s a step towards becoming the kind of mum you want to be.
Know the signs, know the risk factors, know your triggers and take action if you feel there is an issue, whether it be yourself, your partner or a friend.
Visit PANDA or call their National Perinatal Depression Helpline on 1300 726 306for more information, resources or help.
If you have a friend who suffers from PND and you would like to know ways you can actually help, pop over and read this awesome post on Good Golly Miss Holly – it is the most practical advice I’ve read.