PND Pretending to Manage

One of our members shares her journey in Postnatal Depression

She writes:

When little Monkey was born he didn’t know the meaning of sleep. He was alert, happy and active. He was pretty much everything a text book newborn isn’t. And that is a trend that has continued through to today.  He provides me with daily challenges which is a character trait rather than a flaw. And I, now, love that about him but back in the dark days, I could barely cope.

He clusterfed for six hours a night. He woke hourly. I was exhausted.

I have no family in NZ nor does my husband. We have many good friends but they all have their own lives and many had babies just a few months/weeks older than Monkey. I am the type of person who doesn’t like to impose on others. I found it hard to ask for help.

Stud1 had just gotten a promotion and had to prove himself at work. All of this was understandable to me (even at 3am after hourly wakes and feeds from 6pm.) But understanding it didn’t help what I now can see was PND. It was what I will call my twilight zone.

But I managed…

  • I managed to love Monkey with all my heart which is something I will be eternally grateful for.
  • I managed not to smother him when he woke hourly for three months.
  • I managed not to shake him when he woke two hourly for five months.
  • I manage not to drive my car under a truck the way I wanted to so that someone (anyone) would notice that I wasn’t coping.
  • I managed to keep my marriage alive
  • I managed to smile
  • I managed to fool everyone.

People thought I was coping, they (Hubby included) thought I was doing a great job on three hours sleep with a baby who was moving from 3 months. (I hid the tears, the suicidal thoughts, the physical pain, the heartbreak, the isolation, the fear). I drank coffee as a reward for a good night, as a way to regain some feeling of normalcy.

But I couldn’t. I felt like I was stuck in a box and no-one could hear or see me.

I went to my GP who said that I needed to get more sleep otherwise I would end up losing my husband (helpful advice – yes?) but couldn’t help me get that sleep. He gave me the number to Maternal Mental Health and told me to phone them if I thought I was depressed. I phoned and they brushed me off. I gave up on them.

I phoned the Depression Hotline and they couldn’t give me any advice on PND.

Finally, I went to the local childcare nurse and she said she would refer me to a support group. A year into my twilight zone I finally got some help. Anne will always be my hero, for letting me talk about everything for hours on end and for letting me know that I was doing a good job.

But as time went on, and I still didn’t feel like myself, I saw another GP and she suggested counselling. It helped and I am finally three years into Monkey’s life feeling like myself. I can honestly say that my PND hasn’t had any obvious effect on him and I am thankful for that everyday!

I still have bad days but I am more aware of them and know how to get “out” of them now.