Severe postnatal depression without psychotic episodes

Severe postnatal depression without psychotic episodes. That was my diagnosis; see, there’s always a silver lining. I wasn’t having psychotic episodes! Yay!!! That diagnosis was given in February this year, 14 months after my son was born. Yup, that’s right, I left it undiagnosed and untreated for 14 whole months! How you ask, well, I was what they call an over functioning depressive. That means that I didn’t wallow in my depression and struggle to get out of bed or cry all the time, no one could see it least of all me. I literally over functioned as a new mother, I made sure my baby had everything he needed, I fed him (I breastfed for 6 months exclusively), I bathed him, I entertained him, I did everything I was meant to do. I made sure my house was always perfect, I cooked dinner for my husband every night, I made myself meals as I was breastfeeding so needed the energy to keep up my supply. What I didn’t do is see much joy in it all. Don’t get me wrong I have amazing memories of it all, I have beautiful photos of us together as a family, I adored him with all my heart, but something wasn’t right.

The “book” and “the experts” out there tell you what your child should be doing when & how and I believed them, 110%! But, they speak of a perfect baby and there is no such thing. There is only a baby and each baby is so very different to the next. But I couldn’t see or accept that, if ‘the book’ said your baby will start sleeping through from 6 months I was shocked and appalled when mine didn’t (he only started sleeping through once he could walk at 11 months). And I didn’t know how to deal with this ‘failure’ as a mother; I had obviously done something wrong or my son was “faulty” and I took it out on him. Now, stop right there before you start going off in the wrong direction about what that means. I never ever did anything to physically or mentally harm him, but I did scream at him and shout at him because I couldn’t understand why my baby wasn’t doing what the book said he would. I used to sob because I was permanently exhausted and that took a massive toll on my mental wellbeing as well. I have since learnt that I can get by on a few hours of sleep for like a day and then I need to get 8 hours sleep or I lose it. That’s not possible with a newborn and wore me down until I was a shadow of my former self.

Severe postnatal depression without psychotic episodes

In February this year I ended up in hospital (twice) with viral meningitis and it was when I returned home after my first stay that my mom and hubby basically coordinated an intervention about how I was always angry about everything and angry with Tristan and how they felt something was wrong. Initially I accused them of calling me a bad mother and implying I wasn’t good enough (another sign of PND) but eventually later that night, as I sat in bed alone, that the penny dropped and I realized I had postnatal depression (PND). I’m a doer, I’m a take action kinda girl so that very evening I text one of my mommy friends and asked for her psychologists details and the very next morning booked an appointment. From there, in hindsight, it all happened very fast. I got put onto meds (am still on them and will be for the foreseeable future) and started seeing the psychologist weekly for talk therapy sessions.

The meds started to help but the talk therapy is probably what helped the most and one morning I woke up and the sun was a little brighter, my son was even more amazing in my eyes and life was full of colour. I was coming out of the depression and it felt amazing.

About a week ago I stopped seeing the psychologist as she feels I’ve come far enough and learnt enough skills to be cope with whatever motherhood throws at me. Should I need to see her she’s at the end of the phone and I know I can get an appointment should I need it but for now I’m good. I can honestly say that with no reservations. I enjoy life now; I enjoy my marriage and husband; my son brings me so much joy words won’t do it justice. I am blessed to have him as my son, he’s taught me so much already and I love him with all my heart, body & soul.

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