Firstly, I can see how the title of this post paired with the photo of me smiling in a bit of a deranged way could be quite unnerving for some. I’ll get to why I’ve included it soon, I promise. I’d also like to start by thanking you all for the support regarding my last post. I know the subject of suicidal ideation (loosely meaning “fleetingly considering the idea and/or forming a plan”) was confronting and worrying for some. Others seemed to be able to relate to my post and although I’m sad about that, it is also kind of a comfort to me (not the feelings of suicide, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone). Knowing I’m not alone in this parenting journey is mainly why I decided to put such raw feelings out there.
THE DIFFICULT SUBJECT
You have to understand, that I wrote about my suicidal thoughts to highlight this part of Post Natal Depression. I’ve never been one to shy away from talking about difficult times, it’s just who I am. It wasn’t for a certain kind of attention and I sincerely didn’t mean to worry anyone unduly. Even though I know worry was an inevitable fall out, I get that, of course it would be.
What many of you don’t know is that I am a trained Crisis Counsellor and am fully aware of Suicide Prevention. I’ve had to ask virtual strangers “are you thinking about killing yourself?” and be prepared for the answer. I’m a massively self-aware person and therefore can reflect and articulate clearly what I’m going through. But I didn’t write that post during the thick of it. It’s taken me a good three months to be able to say that I had a plan and for that not to make me cry.
To help put your mind at ease, know that I have recently changed to a really good GP and am currently and actively seeking help. I want to get better. This is something that Hubby and I have been living with for the better part of a year and so while it is not new to us, I appreciate how it could have been shocking to some of you.
YOU LOVELY THING, YOU
I received some absolutely gorgeous messages from friends and family who I know have my back. People I could call and say “dude, I’m looking at train times, I’m f*cking losing it”. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. It was also simply too difficult for me to even utter the words to Hubby “can you finish early today?”.
I don’t particularly think it’s down to shame or embarrassment, even though there is a certain element of that attached to mental health. Admission makes it true, and actually saying the words aloud were near to impossible for me. When you can’t understand what is happening in your own mind and body it’s so difficult to verablise it to someone else. I realise I sound like a complete contradiction but there is a difference between being self-aware and being too far gone.
For me, there is a very real fear of my children being taken away too. There is the thought process that I may be deemed to be an unfit mother all of which makes me stay silent. The reality is though, I am a great Mum. My children are clean, fed and are happy. Post Natal Depression manages to shroud those facts in irrationality though.
Maybe it’s also the Englishness in me that doesn’t want to cause a fuss. I’d probably even queue up quite nicely when checking myself into hospital during a breakdown.
Jokes aside, I firmly believe that asking for help is so much harder than giving it.
BUT I STILL DON’T GET WHY
When you have children it can be a difficult notion for people to comprehend how you could ever leave them.
But don’t you just feel instantly better when you see their tiny snot filled faces?”
No. I don’t.
It’s actually not really about them. Not truly. I didn’t get to the point where suicide seemed like the answer because I hate my children. Quite the opposite. I thought it would help them. I believed it would be for the best. I thought I would be protecting them from, well, me and my madness.
Post Natal Depression makes me believe I am a bad person, a cruddy mother and that, due to this illness, I will irretrievably damage my children. I’m acutely aware that I cannot get this time back and that scares me. I don’t want this to be their memory, to be their childhood.
At the moment, I can’t relate to those celebrities that hark on about how becoming a parent just made them a better person. Social Media can make me feel so rubbish about my efforts and that is why I use it sparingly, I know I have to for my mental health. I’m at a point in my life where I need ridiculously strong boundaries. Most days I constantly step back from situations and take a deep breath simply because I feel vulnerable.
Vulnerability creates fear. Fear feeds instability. And there, in a nutshell, is Post Natal Depression.
I have to say that my children are quite easy – when they’re not together that is. Little Man is the most demanding by far by asking for various things every five minutes. The girls keep me busy but they do play with each other, sometimes giving me a moment of peace. I can generally cope quite well with one or the other. The girls or the boy. But, some days, when they’re all at home together my stress levels peak and stay at that heightened sense more or less until bedtime.
I’m constantly telling LM that I have to do XYZ first or that no, I can’t get the paints out because the thought of cleaning them up is giving me heart palpitations. It saddens me that there was once a time when letting him roll around in just his nappy on a large canvas wouldn’t have phased me. Now a touch of finger painting has the potential to make me spiral.
Even though my days can be a spiraling mess, I also have many moments where I smile. I can still laugh, heartily, and my sense of humour is firmly intact. Perhaps more importantly I can make my children squeal with laughter regularly. When one photo shows me broodily looking out onto the lake, the very next one shows me happy to be outdoors, a bit like a Border Collie.
Mental health is not one dimensional with only one way to be. I guess I’d describe parenting in exactly the same way and maybe that’s why it’s so easy to interlock the two.
Thanks for reading and if you feel like you need help, please speak to loved ones, your GP or call Lifeline on 13 11 14 (Australian residents). You got this babe.