That is how I felt! Completely overwhelmed and scared with my life, when at a time everyone thinks I should be at my happiest. My second daughter is now 8.5 months old. But about two months ago, things began to get the better of me.
For one who is usually pretty laid back and non-judgemental, enjoys family occasions and socialising, likes a good giggle and a smooch with Pete, I was turning into a monster. Or so I thought anyway. I was irrational, could not focus on my studies or work, had no mojo, couldn’t sleep soundly, did not want to be with people, felt like crying, felt no self-worth, oh the list could go on and on. I think the final straw was one morning when I had gotten up and felt in fine form, and within 30 minutes feeling like there was a dark cloud above me and that my life was just hopeless and there was no point to carry on. I think Pete and I just had a silly argument about whether or not to water our basil plant ( we differ in opinion on this :)!) and though he had moved on, it brought me totally down. So I went to work and did a bit of soul searching. I admitted to myself that I needed help.
Pete had no idea I was feeling all these things and was very surprised when I sat him down on the couch one evening after the girls had been put to bed. I just blurted it out. I had been giving myself pep-talks the entire evening. It was hard trying to pluck up the courage to admit something was wrong. There is so much pressure on mothers today to be perfect. He was very supportive and said that I hid it very well. This is funny because I see myself as being a complete wreck behind the facade I have put up.
I booked myself in to see our family doctor a week later. The funny thing is that I felt such a sense of relief telling Peter. During this week, many thoughts went through my mind. Maybe I was fine; sure I was only making this up; I had no reason to be depressed. But deep down I knew I had to listen to my body. When I finally arrived into my doctor’s office and told him, he said he knew straight away as he could see it in my eyes. I was not too keen to take anti-depressants as I am nursing Olwyn. However, he did a lot of ringing around to find an appropriate drug that did not affect the baby. He was pretty adamant that I take it and give it a chance.
I did not understand this type of depression and that after pregnancy women can have an hormonal imbalance. I did not suffer from this after my first daughter was born. I did the Edinburgh test after Olwyn was born, but I was on a high after the birth. I wonder why this is not carried out at a later stage after birth when it is more likely to be picked up.
The doctor questioned when I would stop breastfeeding, which I thought a bit strange. My reply was that the decision to stop would be my baby’s choice. He also questioned the need for me to do my Ph.D. as being a mother is a full-time job as it is. I answered that I wanted to do this. If I were to stop, I will regret it in the years to come. Besides, having two young children, there is a certain flexibility to doing my research now. Some days are more productive than others. If the children are sick, I can stay home with them.
Besides being on medication, I have taken a holistic approach to this also. I have changed my diet. For example, I eat four or five brazil nuts a day. Brazil nuts contain tryptophan which helps in the production of serotonin. This is a happy chemical that the body uses. Also, I have tried to increase the amount of fish I eat. I take a B-vitamin complex supplement. My downfall is sitting down with biscuits/chocolate/anything sweet after the kids are in bed. I am attempting to cut this out. The trick is not to have any in the house. This is an absolute killer. So I have another substitute. This blog!! The whole exercise thing is a hit and miss too. I started jogging but that is on hiatus at the moment.
At first, I was so ashamed and embarrased that I was suffering from post-natal depression. Slowly but surely I began telling those closest to me. Surprisingly, it gave me a confidence and confidence admitting to it. I would just kind of blurt it out. People would be surprised but supportive. The most supportive of course is Peter. Without him, I don’t think I would see the light. He is my rock.
The medication is starting to kick in. I find myself having a giggle and think “wow, that feels good, it’s been a while since I did that” or I have a special moment with my kids and think “they complete me”. Slowly but surely the sky is beginning to lift…