I haven’t written anything personal or meaningful in quite a while now. I’ll be honest it is because there is one post I have been wanting to write and I just haven’t been able to bring myself to. It has quite literally been sat in my drafts for about 6 months. I finally feel now I am at a place I can write about it and not feel ashamed of how I really felt.
A lot of the time when people think of depression, they instantly think of sadness. For me, and for a few others, it isn’t at all about sadness. It’s an emptiness. It wasn’t until I sought help for my own mental health that I realised just how empty I felt and how bad I had gotten. I felt nothing.
It took a few months before I realised for myself that I needed to seek some help. I reached a state of hopelessness and the thoughts I was having were taking over my life. I wasn’t having suicidal thoughts but I was thinking about leaving Luke and my children as I honestly thought they would be better without me. I thought everyone would be better off without me hanging about and making a mess of things. The first few months of Cassius’ life are a bit of a blur to be honest but I didn’t feel the joy of motherhood that I should of. At every opportunity I put him down. I made any excuse possible to not be near him. The guilt I feel about that now is so strong but I know it wasn’t intentional. I honestly have breastfeeding to thank for the little bond I did develop with him. He took to it almost straight away. He had a great latch and didn’t cause me any pain. I think if I had the latch and pain difficulties I had with Aoife I would of given up this time around because the motivation wasn’t there. I didn’t feel the need to succeed like I did with Aoife. With Cassius it was more a necessity.
I often look back through my phone and feel a pang of sadness at the lack of photos of Cassius in those early days. When Aoife was born I was overcome with love and awe of this tiny baby that was in my life and demanding every second of my attention. I took at least 10 photos a day of her. Cassius it was a chore to even want him near me.
Slowly, I began to realise that something wasn’t right but because literally no one around me questioned these little changes in my personality and behaviour, I began to think it was all in my head and I was blowing my feelings out of proportion! I knew the differences in the way I had treated the children in the first months of their life wasn’t right. I eventually sought help and it was the best thing I did. I was offered anti-depressants and they have been just what I needed.
(For anyone wondering; yes you can breastfeed on antidepressants. Here are the fact sheets on antidepressants from the Drugs in Breastfeeding Network. I would have these handy if a pharmacist or doctor questions it.)
I am so much better than I was. Still prone to down days and anxiety attacks but they few and far between. I have come a long way and will hopefully be weaning off the medication in the next few months!
Did you struggle with postnatal mental illness? Let me know your experiences in the comments!