As usual my videos don’t fail in failing 😂 just talking about PND, eating disorders and children. I’m really clever “Winks with both eyes” 😉 I’m literally awful in front of a camera and feel vulnerable and hate it as I like being private but the ignorance is ridiculous towards it, doesn’t mean you can’t live your life. I’ve suffered bullying, a miscarriage, spousal abuse I haven’t articulated myself well but all I can do is try.
It’s been my birthday this week so to celebrate I’ve left the house and wear something other than maternity leggings WHHAHHEYYY!
Everyone who knows me knows I’ve suffered mental health issues and I’ve been experiencing pre-natal and post-natal depression and anxiety. How I have dealt with this since being a teenager is to hide myself away, I’ve lost countless ‘friends’ who can’t handle me (fair enough) been cheated on (whatever floats your boat, luv) I’ve got into abusive relationships (sorry sorry sorry it was all my fault *eye roll*) because I haven’t felt worthy in myself and men sense that. My children have had loads of support, they are well looked after, loved and yes they’ll question me one day but as I said to my daughter I’m going to be open and honest (she counteracted and said “I know you eat sweets in secret and hide them under your bed” … Awkkwarrrdd) so to combat the isolation, the illness, the judgement of single mothers I’m going to start sharing and talking and begin to learn how to write those feelings of expression. I’m aware my words are jumbled and perhaps incoherent.
PND isn’t something to be ashamed of and neither is any other mental illness – let’s face it were all on some sort of spectrum 🙌💁 since having children they’ve taught me so much one of them being resilience and to grow up as I’ve grown up with them. As a teenager I couldn’t commit and couldn’t focus but now I have little people who expect that focus and so far I’ve survived doing it for nearly 8 years alone (yeah lived with that guy for a bit, that was a pipe dream let’s face it)
So, taking each day as it comes – some days manic, some days intolerable, some days peaceful, some days are actually amazing and those are the days you live for… And today the weather is cold, I’m fake tanned from trying to look nice for a birthday photo cake smash and the tan has gone dodgy), over weight, scruffy hair. I’m tired. I’m mardy. My body isn’t actually healing postnatally like it should so I hurt all over (and by god I love complaining so why can’t I do what I need to do just for a moment)
The depression can be crippling. The self doubt, self loathing (sounds so first world selfish doesn’t it) The anxiety can be heart wrenching – the father of my son eventually drifted away, don’t think he could or wanted to understand the pressure, my social anxiety and just needing to be alone but to need him to. There have been some days I’ve wanted to just die, I’m unworthy of being a parent. I’ve hidden in the dark for years. My thoughts. My illness. No one has known. But I need to be the change or try to be fierce and face the fear, anxiety and isolation.
All I think to myself is I’m a terrible parent, a terrible person and an even worse mother. I look into their faces and I don’t even feel an association with them it’s complete dissociation and that’s not saying they are in danger it’s me feeling numb. I’m worthless. They deserve more and the life choices I’ve made I shouldn’t have had children.
My third baby is my rainbow baby and nothing would’ve stopped me having her – my body and mind – no matter what anyone said, planned, or not married or not taken or not working (had to leave my job – another story – government can be idiots) but other times I feel I’m ruining just another child’s life and that everything is my fault. I’m basically a selfish person, however, Winifreds a miracle. My children are miracles. Perhaps I’m one too.
Postnatal Depression also known as PND or Postpartum depression – can occur anytime during the first year after you’ve given birth and even after that. It is different from the Baby Blues as it is more severe and lasts longer.
Symptoms of PND may include:
- Feelings of hopelessness and lack of self worth
- Lack of concentration and motivation
- Lack of interest in anything including your new baby
- General sadness, crying a lot or being unable to stop crying without always knowing why
- Feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope
- Feeling anxious or on edge, maybe even having panic attacks
- Inability to sleep or sleeping all the time but still being exhausted
- Generally feeling ill/unwell, no energy and no appetite
- Feeling guilty, feeling like you aren’t a good enough mum
This is all SO common – when you look at those mums who look like they are finding this easy I guarantee most of them will have felt some of these things and the more we talk about it the more others will feel able to talk about it. We need to take those masks off and be a bit more honest about how we feel so we can support each other more.
You are not alone.
Postpartum Psychosis – sometimes (referred to as puerperal psychosis) is very rare (affects 1-2 women per 1,000.) It is a severe mental condition that requires urgent intervention and often requires hospitalization.
It is now fully understood what causes Postpartum Psychosis but women who have a previous family history of mental illness or have a family member who has suffered with Postpartum Psychosis are more prone to the development of it. Similarly, if you have a personal history of depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia you more are more at risk. About 50% of women who have had an episode of postpartum psychosis will have another episode after a future pregnancy.
Your midwife will take a full medical history at your booking in session and if you are thought to be at risk you will receive specialist care and will be seen by a psychiatrist. There should be a pre-birth planning meeting at 32 weeks. This meeting should include everyone who is involved in looking after you such as your partner, family or friends, as well as all the health professionals involved such as obstetrician, midwife, health visitor, and GP. Everyone should be made aware of your risk of postpartum psychosis. The idea of this meeting is to agree a plan of care for you during and after birth and when you come home from hospital on how best to support you. This plan will be written down so everyone is aware of what has been agreed with details of how to spot postpartum psychosis and how to get help quickly if you become unwell with it.
After your baby is born you come you should be closely followed up by a midwife and then they transfer you onto the health visitor if all is well.
Symptoms usually start soon after giving birth within 2 weeks but they may occur later in some women usually when they stop breastfeeding or when their periods return. Often the woman does not realise she is ill and it is her partner, friends and family who realise she is not herself and seek help. Postpartum psychosis is a psychiatric and medical emergency and immediate help is needed. If it is not treated rapidly it can escalate quickly and the illness can result in self harm or harm to someone else as the woman is, quite literally, ‘out’ of her mind.
Symptoms of postpartum psychosis may include:
- Delusions or strange beliefs, Hallucinations
- Rapid mood swings, possibly even hyperactive or manic moments when they talk quickly, feel fantastic and appear more sociable than normal
- Feelings of paranoia and fearfulness
- Restlessness, agitation, extreme irritability
- Severe confusion, difficulty communicating
Don’t be afraid to call an ambulance if you or a friend or family member maybe getting close to tipping into psychosis.
Duration of symptoms with any of these things are very variable. Earlier diagnosis tends to lead to a shorter duration of illness. The acute phase with the most severe symptoms tend to last 2 to 12 weeks. However, it is a serious illness and recovery can take 6-12 months or more – really based on individuals. Most women do however make a complete recovery from the condition.
Postpartum psychosis can seriously disrupt family relationships and life. Bonding with your baby may be affected and it is not unusual to have a period of depression, anxiety or low confidence following on from postpartum psychosis. Some mums may feel sadness at the time they may have missed out on with their baby whilst they were ill. With support from your partner, family, friends, health visitor and mental health team you can overcome these feelings. Many women who have had postpartum psychosis do go on to have more children.
Anxiety – is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear. It comes from the human reactions of ‘Fight or Fight’. When we were living in caves and a giant ass bear in town or rival tribe appeared, we had to be physically ready to either run away as fast as possible or stay and fight and have all our senses (reaction times, strength etc) on full capacity. In modern times, we probably won’t meet a giant ass bear in town but we do have to do things like job interviews or new experiences where we feel nervous and experience some of the same sensations to lesser extent. Our body releases adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol. Once this event is over, these feelings should go away and the body relax to normal, however, some people find it harder to control their feelings and worries and their anxiety can then affect their daily life with worries about more than one situation or even having the feelings without quite knowing why – this is known as General Anxiety Disorder or GAD.
Symptoms of anxiety can include:
- Heart racing, palpitations, chest pain, rapid breathing, shortness of breath
- Sweating, dizziness, headache, nausea, dry mouth, tremors, restlessness
- Feeling nervous or on edge
- Feeling confused and unable to make decisions
- Feeling distressed in social situations
- Unable to sleep
- Obsessive or compulsive behaviour
Stress and anxiety are different but can co-exist and there may not be any signs of depression. It can be quite common in new mums, of course having a new baby is stressful but when it starts to affect your life, you can’t sleep or go to social functions or start getting symptoms of OCD then it’s probably not quite normal anxiety and is tipping into the realms of Post Natal Anxiety disorder which you will need help with. Not only does it feel horrible but it will affect your quality of life to potentially a large extent and is quite common and is taken seriously by health professionals. See your Health visitor or GP or talk to us here first if that makes the first step easier. What are your symptoms?
There is no single cause of Postnatal Depression and it is not clear why some mums develop PND and others don’t, just as it’s not known why some people may suffer from depression following a bereavement when another doesn’t.
It could be that the physical and mental ‘shock’ of giving birth whether it was traumatic or not could be a trigger for some mums. It may be that there are other issues such as socio-economic problems, a lack of a support network, other stresses being present in their life, a history of mental health issues either in themselves or a family member could all be risk factors. Or it could be that having a baby opens something in your mind or heart that you’ve tucked away but that now needs to be recognised.
The important thing to remember is that having PND isn’t your fault. It can affect anyone from any background and it isn’t anything to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. There is nothing you could do to prevent it, just as you didn’t do anything to cause it.