Hi, my name is Nicole. I’m 25 and living in Fife, Scotland. I am a first-time mum to a beautiful daughter called Hannah, and I have Postnatal Depression.
Postnatal depression is still a taboo
Typing that out was much harder than I thought it would be. It has taken over a week to type out that paragraph alone. You see, postnatal depression is mentioned so much in so many different media outlets. We hear of celebrities having PND: Chrissy Teigan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Elle Macpherson, Courtney Cox, the list goes on. A search online gives several examples of celebrity stories yet I hadn’t had anyone personally open up to me about living with PND. It’s as if it’s still a taboo. I feel as though I’m expected to believe there are other mums out there like me, but not seek them or speak to them about it all.
One of the hardest parts of having PTSD is talking about it. It’s the anxiety that comes crashing down when you don’t know what to dress your baby in, incase you make a mistake. The crushing lows you feel when you’ve had quite possibly had the best day and then all of sudden, just like that, something sets your peaceful child off and they’re inconsolable for the remainder of the day.
My health visitor was my lifeline
When I asked for help, I was so nervous and anxious. I was worried I wouldn’t get the help I needed. Worried they would take Hannah off me as I clearly couldn’t look after her properly. Oh boy, how wrong I was. My health visitor was nothing but supportive. She listened to every worry and anxiety I hadpe, and my ramblings about not knowing how to keep Hannah happy. Most of all, after I had got everything out of my system, she put her hand over mine and told me it’s okay. What I was feeling was normal. I was okay, and Hannah was okay.
I was asked to answer questions regarding my day-to-day life on a “never/rarely/frequently/always” basis. My PND was marked as being not severe, but there. That was a lot to take in. Not being told I had PND – I knew that all along – but being told it wasn’t severe. I had built it up in my head that I was at the top of the scale. It was hard to understand that it was all in my head – that although I had been so panicked that I couldn’t do it, I had been doing it all along.
I was immediately referred to counselling to help me understand all of this, to get help and to have someone who wasn’t involved to speak to. I’ve yet to go, but knowing that help is on its way is a massive reassurance.
Recovery is a work in progress
I still have bad days; the crushing lows and the overwhelming anxieties. There are times when I need the comfort of my partner, even when I’m going to see people or go places I would have deemed as “safe” before. I cancel on people and events because the anxiety can be too much. There are days when I struggle to get out of my bed because I’m so low, and there are mornings when I wake before Hannah and once my partner leaves for work I cry because the thought of the struggles the day may bring is overwhelming.
Thankfully, I now know it’s okay to ask for help. I know that it won’t make me a bad mum if I ask Hannah’s grandparents to take her overnight because I need a night off. It is a comfort to know that it’s okay to cry and to take it easy. Most importantly, its 100% okay that I’m not okay. I’m getting there, but it’s okay that it’s taking time. I have postnatal depression, and it’s going to be okay.
If you or someone you know is worried about Postnatal Depression, speak to a health care professional or visit the NHS website for postnatal depression.