Before I fell pregnant with my eldest son my husband and I had just decided to put down some roots in Shropshire after 14 months of travelling. We had an online business which we’d been running as we travelled, it was pretty amazing.
As soon as we decided to live in Shropshire our work strangely dried up, I was planning on joining the corporate world again anyway, (working with your husband 24X7 isn’t always great for your relationship!) however, with real monthly commitments again we were a little anxious. More so when after three weeks I became pregnant, we were nowhere near ready, no friends nearby, no stable income, a new home, however I decided to call this baby “Our Luck” and when I got a new job at three months pregnant this cemented my belief.
In actual fact the best luck we had was being in the right place at the right time when my son had a medical emergency at three days old. We were incredibly lucky to still be in hospital and to have such amazing care.
The start I had with this precious boy though would feel anything but lucky again for some time after.
Many people that know me will know I don’t shy away from talking about my post natal depression, at the time though I hid it very very well. On the outside I looked like I was coping amazingly, I remember NCT friends coming over and I’d made them all home made soup, my house was immaculate. At that point my husband was working during the week in Dublin (and he had been from the point of our son being six weeks old). I was flying solo during the week and doing airport runs Sunday and Friday nights.
I should not have been coping but I was. Looking back I was in survival mode and business mode, everything was a practical thing I had to manage. I was also determined to combat baby brain and make use of my time off work, trying to learn French from some CDs I’d borrowed from the library and I also dabbled in a bit of Greek mythology! Yes, I am a bit random at times!
I was not spending any time connecting or bonding with my son. This wasn’t really possible when I didn’t actually feel anything in my heart. The only fun thing I enjoyed with him was a Baby Yoga class. I tried a sensory class but felt like I stood out and was different to everyone else there. I couldn’t wait to get back to work and I went back full time when he was 8 months old. I’d applied for a promotion whilst on maternity leave so was taking on a lot more responsibility, it was nothing really I hadn’t done before in my career so it wasn’t daunting and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into something I could do, something I KNEW I was good at.
I felt that I had nothing positive to offer my baby and was much better in my management role than in the role of a mother.
Perhaps I was in denial my life had changed too…
This went on for months and months, I knew something wasn’t right then I’d bounce back a bit then sink a little lower, bounce back slightly and sink further still into this heavy darkness. His first birthday was a reliving of all the events that had happened around his birth, my experience of birth and the scary start we had at only days old. After his first birthday I can almost recall the physical feeling of spiralling at great speed into dark dark depression. Like being in a pit or a cave with no light around you, suffocating with no way out…
I felt that coming back to the South East would be the answer, I wanted to be nearer old friends that knew me for years and I wanted the support of my husband’s family near by. When we planned to leave Shropshire I was relieved and hanging by a thread and just starting to admit there was a problem and I needed to do something about it.
Our lucky star was 18 months old. I still couldn’t see the joy he was, I felt trapped, I didn’t appreciate his achievements or milestones, I did not see the shine in his eyes, his laughter did not cause any emotion in me at all, there was no happiness for me in any of it.
18 months is a long time to not feel anything, to hide it all behind fake smiles and platitudes, I followed the lead of what people expected me to say meaning absolutely none of it and feeling numb.
Post Natal Depression took me to the darkest part of myself. The world was heavy and on my shoulders. I couldn’t see that my child gave me more reasons to live than not. I could only see how much better off my child and husband would be without me. I didn’t believe I could add any value to my child’s life, I know now that I was wrong and that was the depression not me, but at the time it felt very real.
I nearly walked away from it all. I was very close.
Fortunately when I was at breaking point we were staying with my in laws whilst waiting for our house to be available. One morning before logging on for work I had a complete breakdown. My mother in law said quite simply “This isn’t like you at all is it? Do you want to see a doctor?” I replied “I can’t make any decisions!” and burst into tears again. She called her doctor and from there things improved with a few bumps in the road.
It’s not that I’d not sought some help before but I was convinced I could do it myself or with the help of much trusted alternative therapies. This wasn’t enough for me on this occasion. I shouldn’t have suffered as much as I did for as long as I did.
Now going back to My Lucky Star, his very arrival has since shaped my future, shaped my new career, shaped my beliefs about what women deserve, what women may need as new mothers. He is the reason that I have made it MY BUSINESS to stop more women falling down the pit of despair, or be weighed down by heavy darkness. I’m not just here to support women with PND, I’m here to support every mother that crosses my path.
If it wasn’t for My Lucky Star I wouldn’t have discovered my true purpose in life. He has taught me so much and he is one of my greatest teachers, he is and always will be My Lucky Star.
With all my heart and more I can say I love him deeply and unconditionally, I feel totally connected to him and we have a very special bond, he doesn’t realise how special he is and how because of him and our journey together I endeavour to help less mothers struggle.
I feel now that I have so much to offer him, I’m sure I’ll get stuff wrong BUT I am proud of my journey and proud of my relationship with him. I am proud of every single woman that has experienced PND and has beaten it and I wish for anyone suffering now to know that they too can feel the love and connection in time. They too can feel happiness and love in their heart again.
They can feel like themselves again.
People that struggle with their mental health at any time of their life need to know it does not define us or our abilities as a mother or parent.