Trying to see clearly through the fog of depression and anxiety.

The exhaustion that postnatal depression and anxiety brings is deliberating and consuming. My days at times have merged into one where I get up and do the things I have to do, but I’m not present in the moment, I am detached, I am just running slowly on autopilot. This has made me feel like a terrible mother at times as all I’ve been able to do is focus on the children’s basics needs but nothing more. The antidepressants stop me from feeling any heightened emotions, sure I can feel happy and sad but not in the same way I used to.

Anxiety is such a struggle for me, the way it makes my heart race, sweaty hands and that need to leave the situation immediately. CBT has been so helpful to me but I constantly have to stop myself going back to my old coping mechanisms that hold me back from getting involved and living my life. One of the hardest things I find about anxiety is how exhausting it is, over thinking everything and not being able to sleep which then starts to really negatively effect my mental state.

Depression and anxiety really have controlled my life for so long and have put in so many limitations. I hate how depression has taken away my confidence and made me feel guilty over things I haven’t been able to control. I believe that I am always going to have to fight this battle and that scares the shit out of me. I feel so weak and overwhelmed at times but the rational side of me knows that I am not weak ad I have come so far, but at times that all feels pointless. When my head is ready to explode all I want to do is run away and escape, not permanently, I just want a break from my own mind.

I am still fighting and will continue to fight for my husband and kids as it’s all I know how to do. I mask the pain well to spare them the burden of my problems and even though I feel hopelessly alone at times I know I never will be. I take comfort in the fact i have more good days than bad days now and when I do have a blip it is usually short lived. Please get help if you need it as talking about it does help and if I hadn’t of got help when I did I really don’t know what would of happened to me.

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How PND damaged my relationship with my daughter

PND and how it damaged my relationship with my daughter and how we got it back.

My daughter Miss J has always been the sweetest little girl and when she was born eight days late, after a three day labour all was forgiven as soon as I held her. My bond with Miss J has always been so strong and she really has been my sidekick and when my anxiety has been bad just having her by my side gives me strength.

The first twenty weeks of pregnancy with Mr T were fairly easy besides a few hospital trips early on, but after twenty weeks things started to get very hard as I was diagnosed with SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) and later Polyhydramnios. Abruptly the walks to the park, chasing around and sitting on the floor playing stopped. I felt incredibly guilty that I was unable to play with my daughter or even push her in her pushchair, but the pain got too much.

I think this is where my depression started and then escalated. Towards the end of my pregnancy I was having to lean on my mum for help with my daughter as I just wasn’t able to give her the attention she craved. Miss J wasn’t wanting me anymore and was crying when I took her home from my mums house, which made me feel like a terrible mother. I kept telling myself that once the baby was here it would be so much better as I wouldn’t be in pain anymore but I was very much wrong.

When Mr T arrived 3 weeks early I felt a huge relief. I had been induced and been away from my daughter for two days so was extremely emotional and wanting to get out of hospital as soon as I could. I left hospital too early as I was still extremely anaemic after a iron transfusion and was having dizzy spells constantly, but I pushed to leave as soon as I could. With Mr T back home I was so excited to introduce him to his big sister, but the reality wasn’t as I had imagined. Miss J only being three wasn’t sure what all the fuss was about and kept asking me to put him back in my tummy. She didn’t bond with him and ignored his existence besides trying to cover his face with a muslin when he cried.

The rational side of me knew that this was normal behaviour but inside it was killing me. I was patient and didn’t force her to be with him but it was so frustrating and making me stressed. Miss J was getting jealous that I was breastfeeding him so I would encourage her to feed her doll but she was acting out trying to get my attention anyway possible.

Mr T was not a good sleeper and would be up most the night screaming. He had bad reflux so I was forever changing his clothes and feeding him. My husband was working 12 hour night shifts so I had no way of getting help. Miss J was fobbed off with TV as I was too exhausted to entertain her and between me breastfeeding and holding a reflux baby upright I was failing her and was feeling terrible mummy guilt. I was resenting her for not letting me bond with my newborn and I was resenting him for ruining our relationship. Something had to give before I broke which is when my mum stepped in.

My mum didn’t work Fridays so we would go out or I would go to hers and she would take care of Miss J, where I would leave her for the night and collect the next day. It meant that once a week I only had to put one child to bed and I could nap when Mr T napped. It worked so well that she still does it now. I felt at first I was letting her down and worried that she would love my mother more than me, but its been the best solution for us both.

Eventually once Mr T could interact with her at around four months she started to take an interest in him. It was extremely slow and frustrating, but she now adores her brother, will take care of him and is incredibly protective of him. Once she started to bond with him and I sought help for my PND our relationship slowly improved. She started preschool when Mr T was 4 months old, which meant she got a break from us both and I think that was the best thing possible at the time.

Sixteen months on from Mr T’s arrival and the mummy guilt seems to be lifting. Miss J and me are best buds and I focus on spending some time where it is just us two when I can. She’s an incredibly kind and happy child and even though she can be a madam she is mostly very well behaved.  I thought she would remember it all, resent me forever and that her and her brother would never be the best of friends. Its amazing how PND can make you think so irrational, but I can now see it from the other side and we are now one big loving family.

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