The Honest Confessions of a NICU Mum on… PND

 

Those three little letters, changed my life in a way I never thought they could.

They held so much power over me, they changed me, I turned on myself and my family because of those three little letters.

I had suffered with my mental health after Elijah was in the Neo Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), but after my second son was born, Post-Natal Depression (PND) consumed me.

The signs

Looking back in those first few weeks after Harlow was born I knew more about how my mental health could take a battering after having a baby than I did first time round.

It all seems to be a blur now, establishing feeding, sleep deprivation, recovery and watching my eldest struggle with the transition and my partner feeling the brunt of it all.

I cannot remember when it started, it didn’t really build up as such.

It most certainly was not just a bad case of the ‘baby blues’ it was so much more.

I remember finding a leaflet about PND in my Bounty folder and how it spoke about it didn’t reflect how I was feeling, it didn’t talk about the reality of what it was really like to have PND.

The anger

When you think of PND you probably think of a mum unable to cope, crying and one that isn’t able to love her child.

That isn’t a correct portrayal of PND, the information in things such as ante natal classes is severely lacking.

I wasn’t just weepy, I was emotionally volatile, the smallest thing would set me of.

I remember feeling so out of control,  the rage would build in me and literally explode.

Never have I been so scared of myself.

It was as though I had my baby, came home lived in the newborn bubble for a few days and boom there it was, PND knocking at my door.

Auto Pilot

I vividly remember a time where Elijah was at his Nan’s and Greg was at work. I was on my own with the baby binge watching Netflix and living in that feed, sleep and repeat cycle. As I got ready to feed him again one afternoon I looked down and I remember feeling numb. There was no rush of love, no happiness, there was nothing.

It was as though I was on auto pilot, I was doing everything that was expected of me, but without at real emotion attached to it.

I don’t think I truly bonded with Harlow until he was perhaps nearly a year old, and of course I beat myself up about it every single day.

Help

Because I was so unaware of what was happening when I was ill with Elijah, I let it fester, too ashamed to get help. To understand that what I was feeling was actually ‘normal’ per se and that my baby wouldn’t be taken away from me. It took my first year with Elijah away from me and I knew I couldn’t let it happen again.

At my 6 week check I told my GP how I was feeling, and she instantly diagnosed PND, there they were those three little letters.

The ones that defined me for what seemed like months, the ones who took over even with medication, therapy and my usual outlet of blogging.

It took me so long to claw myself out of depression, it resulted in me moving in with my Nan so she could help with the children.

Break Down

Greg stood by me the whole time, always the pillar that held our family up. He never judged me when I broke down and said I was miserable, that maybe we shouldn’t have had another baby, that I was a rubbish mum and wanted to leave.

Day after day I told him they were better off without me, I was a failure.

The sense of failure I felt for those months was draining, it affected every part of my being, my life and I couldn’t even recognize who I was anymore.

Advice

I have often wondered about what I would tell someone to do if they think they have PND, or what they can do. One thing I pride myself on is honesty. It has at times be hard to be so honest when I write down and recall how I felt when I suffered from PND, it was pure hell.

But, here is my advice (based on my own experiences, this is not a one size fits all miracle cure)

  1. Always talk, no matter how bad you feel, how dark your thoughts are, if you feel you cannot vocalize them to someone you trust, write them down. Sometimes hearing the words, or seeing them on the page helps you rationalise them, process them. You must always be open and honest no matter how hard that it. When we begin to hide it, suffer in silence, it festers.
  2. Never fear judgement from anyone. Many mums and dads have PND it is nothing to ever be ashamed of and it doesn’t reflect your parenting ability in the slightest.
  3. Find something you enjoy, a bath, a book, write a blog, go for a walk whatever makes you feel as though you are you again, make it a priority. If you can try and get out for a walk now and again (GMOT4W can help locally in Norfolk with this!)
  4. This is the hard one, but seek help. From a GP, midwife, charity (I have listed some below) they can help you, advise you and they are not there to judge you.
  5. Take one day at a time, small steps, they will turn into bigger steps, and you will find there will be a time where there are more good days than bad. It can be hard to believe it when you are in the trenches but one day you feel like you again.
  6. Someone is likely to have gone through what you have, felt how you have felt at some point, it really is okay to be honest you are never alone.

PANDAS

GMOT4W

Mind

Vicki Cockerill is a Freelance Content Writer and NICU/CHD Mum to two boys, she authors The Honest Confessions Of A NICU Mum Blog and co-founded the @KnackeredandNorwich Social Club and campaigns for NICU and MMH issues. You can contact her via her blog or social media;

Facebook Instagram Twitter LinkedIn Blog