What postnatal depression felt like for me

*Trigger warning: infanticide, suicide*

I’ve been lucky enough to have another beautiful, healthy son. I know that so many people would give anything to be in my position. And yet the 4 months since he arrived have been some of the worst of my life.

Since developing postnatal depression, I’ve discovered that it’s so much more than just feeling sad. That’s not to say I didn’t feel sad- I cried every day- but it was so much more to it than just sadness. When it was at its worst, I felt as though I was being suffocated by this huge black blanket. I thought I would share what postnatal depression felt like for me in case it resonates with anyone who is experiencing something similar.

Inability to Cope

I couldn’t cope with looking after two children and thought that we should never have had another baby. I would even go so far as to say I regretted having my second baby as I felt it had turned me into a terrible mum. I felt pathetic for not being able to cope, particularly when A is such a contented, easygoing boy.

No motivation

I found simple, everyday tasks completely overwhelming. For weeks I sat on the sofa all day. The washing built up and up until we had no clean clothes left. I couldn’t face cooking or cleaning, and leaving the house seemed completely impossible. Little T watched TV all day long because I couldn’t face playing with him. I didn’t shower or wash my hair for 2 weeks. I literally didn’t want to do anything.

Difficulty bonding

I felt as though I had bonded with baby A to start off with, but it soon disappeared as the depression set in. I felt as though I was just going through the motions with him, and almost like he was someone else’s baby. I thought that he deserved better than me. I would cry every night as I watched him sleeping peacefully. My biggest fear was that he would die of SIDS and would never have had a mummy who loved him.

Anger

I was incredibly angry. I had absolutely no patience with T and would shout and scream at him for being a normal 2 year old. It was frightening how the rage would just take over me. I like to think I’m a pretty patient person, so this was really out of character for me (although Mr Wonderfully Average might beg to differ…!).

Guilt

I was very aware of how I was being an awful mother and letting my children down. Every other aspect of the postnatal depression, the thoughts, feelings and behaviours, made me feel incredibly guilty. My boys deserved better.

Hopeless

I couldn’t see things ever getting better (spoiler alert: it did). I thought that as A got older and more mobile it would get harder (probably true) and I was never going to enjoy having two children. I was sure that I was neglecting my children and I was going to screw them up emotionally. I fantasised about walking out the door and never coming back. I looked into how to voluntarily put my children into care because I knew that they would be better off without me.

Unable to concentrate

My mind felt fuzzy. I couldn’t concentrate or make decisions. I couldn’t think of words. Weeks went by in a blur. And then, when I had clarity again, my newborn was suddenly 3 months old. Looking back, I feel so sad to have missed out on this time with him by not really being present.

Unsocial

I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t want to see anybody. I cut myself off from everything, made excuses not to sign up to a baby yoga class that I’d been planning on doing. I had no confidence. I couldn’t make eye contact with people. My normally low self-esteem was nonexistent.

Intrusive thoughts

This is something that I experienced with little T, so I know that this is normal to a certain extent. At first I was able to dismiss them, knowing what they were. But soon they started to become more powerful, more demanding of my attention. They were incredibly vivid, visual thoughts- I could see myself acting them out. One day I was driving and the thought popped into my head that I could park on a level crossing. I saw myself doing it. I could see my children’s faces as the train hurtled towards us. Another time I was bathing baby A and I saw myself holding him under the water until he was still. This thought stayed with me for a long time. It scared me so much that I didn’t bath him for another 6 weeks. I knew I wouldn’t do these things. But the ‘what if’s were always there.

Suicidal

I spent a lot of time thinking about death but I had one day when I actually felt suicidal. I just wanted the pain to stop and I knew that everyone would be better off without me. I spent the morning making a specific plan for killing myself. I wasn’t going to do it that day but I knew that if I continued to feel as awful as I did, it wouldn’t be too much longer until I carried out my plan. That day, 30th September, was when I hit rock bottom. I’ve never felt as bad as that before or since.

Postnatal depression truly is horrendous. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. If you’ve been experiencing any of these things, please don’t keep it to yourself. Or if you’ve had none of these but are finding it hard in other ways, remember that postnatal depression and anxiety are unique experiences to each person. But please talk to somebody, get help. It will get better. I know it doesn’t feel like it, but honestly it will.

2 thoughts on “What postnatal depression felt like for me

  1. Newcastle Family Life

    Such an honest account and I can relate to every single thing you have said. I suffered when I had my youngest and I also feel like I missed his early months, I had a 14 month old when he was born and she literally sat watching films nonstop all day as I couldn’t face going out. Such a horrible illness and I hope the dark clouds are stating to lift for you now. Xx
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  2. Julia

    I gave birth to my son almost 4 years ago. At 41 weeks & 5 days while I was still fantasizing about a natural water birth, they wheeled me for an emergency CSection. From that point my dream world and dream expectations instantly dissolved into a black, ugly and often intolerable experience. I feel guilty for not feeling that “rush of love”, I was overwhelmed and felt guilty for wanting to sleep and was exasperated that I would never be able to “return” to my former life again. My body was ruined, covered in deep and ugly stretch marks, I barely recognized myself in the mirror, while my baby was crying his head off 22 hours per day. Nothing I did was going to stop him screaming and arching his back against my breast and arms. After 5 1/2 months of sleeping only 3-4 interrupted hours per day, I started behaving like a crazy, deplorable human being. The baby annoyed me whenever he wasn’t latching properly at my aching breasts, I started to tremble whenever my head hit the pillow because I was literally terrified that whenever I will fall asleep he will start screaming, I started hearing him screaming even when….he wasn’t. I became angry about having him, angry about how stupid and naive and arrogant I was before him.
    Slowly, I started having angry and violent outbursts, like slamming the doors, screaming at my husband and blaming him for being such jerk. I started slapping my face and my head, banging my head against the walls while the baby was in the other room sleeping and I was terrified of going to sleep myself. N
    After another few months, while driving the car with my baby in the back, I began to have a strong desire to push harder on the pedal, to push it down till I would’ve reached the floor…closing my eyes and putting an end to this nightmare we were going through. Instantly, I stopped the car and pulled it on the right. The baby was sleeping in his seat. I cried. I cried so many times before and after that. I used to cry and whispering at his ears my apologies. I truly felt like a bitch, like a criminal, like a person who doesn’t even deserve to be under the sun.
    Exactly as you described, going outside at the park (some 10 minutes away from our house) felt like someone was going to send me to the Moon. I wasn’t able to even make a 5 minutes walk to the store.
    I had the convictions that my youth is forever gone, that nobody will ever find me attractive, that I can’t gain the basic skills of motherhood, and that i am going to screw my own child’s emotional development.
    I became skeptical when I read about “postpartum recovery”, and I was completely aware that I am not amongst the lucky ladies that are….indeed recovering.
    The thoughts that I can’t DO, I can’t LOVE, I can’t BE in a way that was decent and tolerable, made me feel even more troubled, unfortunately, and incompatible with my new situation.
    I started to dream about walking out the door and never come back. In fact, there were a few nights when I did managed to sneak out and walked alone, going nowhere, crying and thinking that there is no better way that killing myself. I returned home and every time I saw him I felt deeply miserable, like a piece of s***, not deserving the title of a real human being.
    Today, everything is just the opposite, even if I still have days when I feel like doing nothing but watching YouTube videos. I don’t know exactly how things improved and changed. My mother came in and helped me during the nights, my husband went working more than 14 hours per day and my ObGyn who happens to be a Homeopath as well, talked to me and gave me some homeopathic prescriptions.

    I deeply relate with your post, I am glad I found it and I hope women who experience this nightmare, can find a little support and understanding, help and love to overcome postpartum depression which is more than real and which is a lot more than sadness.

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