Postnatal Depression can totally ruin the early months and even years of motherhood. For me, it actually started in pregnancy with prenatal depression and continued until my baby was about 6 months old, when I became much more able to see the funny side of motherhood. While the sleep deprivation was a big factor for me, I did find practical things I could do to improve the situation. Here is my postnatal depression story and some things I found that helped with recovery.
The Start of My Postnatal Depression Story
I was first certain that I has postnatal depression when I found myself fantasising about running away. Actually, I’m not sure fantasising is the right word, it was more like planning how I could do it if I reached breaking point. I was calculating how much breast milk was in the freezer. I was debating whether I could take the car because, although it was in my name, Chris had paid for most of it. I was thinking about where I could go and how I could support myself. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t I couldn’t carry on in this life I’d ended up in either.
Telling My Mum I had Postnatal Depression
This was so important. I admitted to my Mum that I had postnatal depression when Boy Child was 6 weeks old. While she hadn’t suspected, she also wasn’t shocked, I have a history of anxiety so was always high risk. She helped me massively, initially by convincing me to speak to my GP and taking Boy Child out when Chris got home from work so that I could talk to him. She then continued to help by taking Boy Child for two hours every afternoon until I was coping better. Not everyone is lucky enough to have that level of support but if you do, I urge you to use it.
Practical Stuff to Make Life Easier
Chris was upset when I told him which was hard to deal with. He wasn’t angry with me but was sad that I wasn’t enjoying motherhood on the same way he was enjoying fatherhood.
We all know how men like to solve problems. In this case it worked quite well. We brainstormed all the things that were making life more difficult than they needed to be. Then we took action to change them. This included buying wireless house phones so that I could answer while breastfeeding, getting a waist height changer to minimise my back pain, sorting out a good chair to nurse in and introducing expressed milk in a bottle for combination feeding so that I could take a proper break without having to be available on demand. We also identified some places I could go with the baby, so I would feel less trapped.
Medication for Postnatal Depression
when I saw the Doctor I was offered medication. It’s not for everyone but medication can help with the recovery from postnatal depression. As someone who had been on antidepressant medication before, I was happy to take it again. It wasn’t a magic cure but, along with everything else plus some time, it helped. I stayed on it until we wanted to try for another baby when Boy Child was one.
Singing to Help my Recovery from Postnatal Depression
I’ve never been more keen on singing than the average person but it can really help with postnatal depression recovery. Initially it was putting on my music and singing along. In time I became something of a collector of nursery rhymes. We’d attend baby classes and I would learn the words and then sing them to Boy Child at home. I even started searching out new ones to learn on You Tube. It has been scientifically proven that singing has a positive effect on mood and it was definitely true for me.
In the early weeks of new motherhood I read loads. I read The Baby Whisperer, What to expect in the First year, The Contented Little Baby Book and lots of other parenting tombs. None of these seemed to help my postnatal depression.
My mum noticed my choice of reading material and suggested I read some fiction to help me feel more like my old self. She lent me A Thousand Splendid Suns. Not only was she right that it made me feel like myself again, much of the book is about a mother and her children and it really helped me connect with parenthood in a way I hadn’t before that. Reading became a big part of my self care and it really helped my take a step forwards.
Realising You’re Not Alone through other Postnatal Depression Stories
I wasn’t on Facebook at the time and while in some ways that was probably a blessing, it also meant I didn’t come across mentions of other women suffering from PND. Eventually I tracked down a few books about it and also discovered forums where mums were discussing it. This did helped with my recovery from postnatal depression hugely, by normalising my situation. While objectively I knew I wasn’t alone, actually reading other mum’s postnatal depression stories was hugely reassuring.
Chocolate Digestives and their Role in my Postnatal Depression Story
While I don’t credit chocolate digestives specifically with my PND recovery, there is a lot to be said for the role food can play. I ate pretty much a whole pack a day in the newborn phase. While healthier food would probably would have been better, making sure I was eating and not beating myself up about losing the baby weight, was important. They became my reward, something to look forward to, and I really needed that.
Having Another Baby and Worrying about Postnatal Depression
When I was pregnant with Girl Child my instincts told me I should have some ways to get out of the house when she was born to help avoid a recurrence of my PND. I started attending a local toddler group. Once Girl Child was born, this helped to break up the days with a baby and a toddler.
While I found those early years with two really hard, thankfully my postnatal depression didn’t return. I think if I had had friends who had children before I had Boy Child, or had attended NCT classes and so made friends there, I might not have suffered so much the first time.
More Help with Recovery From Postnatal Depression
While everyone is different, I hope my postnatal depression story and the things that helped me might help someone else with their recovery. If you are struggling, do visit your GP. 99% of them are brilliant and if you are in the unlucky 1% I strongly advice you to change GP. If you’re also struggling to bond with your baby (which can go hand in hand with PND) then I’ve also written about my experience of not loving my baby. If you’re struggling, check out The Pre and Postnatal Advice and Support Foundation for further help. Getting out of the house can also help with postnatal depression so have a look at these suggestions for places to take a baby.
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Crummy Mummy says
A great post to help anyone in the same situation – & so important to talk about it too #ThatFridayLinky
Tracey Carr says
I always feel so grateful that I didn’t suffer like this with either of my two babies. As much as I love my mum I don’t know if I could have ever approached her for help if I needed it because she is very old school and her attitude to everything is “just get on with it”. You are so lucky and blessed to have a mum who would take your baby for you every afternoon to give you a break. That kind of help is amazing. #itsok
Some excellent tips here. It’s so important that we keep talking about this and supporting each other in our post natal mental health journeys. Acknowledging I needed help was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
I suffered with depression during my recent pregnancy and knew that if I didn’t take control of it, it would develop into post natel depression.
Accepting help was one of my biggest struggles as I wanted to bring the baby home to a nice chilled house. But I had the in-laws over for 3 days. They were such a godsend looking after my 2 boys and cooking us meals. Sometimes the house felt too full, but they helped so much in hindsight.
Chocolate biscuits, what’s app groups with parent friends and listening to music were all great things to help me too.
Such a great post for Mums, I hope those in need get to see it. Especially as like you said, we are not alone x
Some really great tips. Thanks for sharing.
Great post. I think acknowledging that you need help is the bravest and strongest thing anyone can do. Thanks for joining in with #ThatFridayLinky
Anita Faulkner - Brazen Mummy Writes says
Well done for sharing your experiences. Fantastic that you have such a lovely mum and husband, and I’d always advocate more biscuits. Glad you’re feeling on form again. X
Thanks, was all quite a long time ago for me but something I’ve always meant to write about.
Helen Copson says
Brilliant post, Josie. Some great tips here. I was lucky not to suffer PND but I had a couple of friends who did and these were the type of things that helped them. Love the pack of digestives a day! #ItsOK
The chocolate digestive will always have a special place in my heart!
Kate - The Mum Conundrum says
This is such an important message! Great tips too (I love that you’ve included choccy digestives amongst them!) A welcome addition to the #ItsOK linky xxx
Thank you, hoping to write a few more pieces in a similar vein. X