On my Resources page there are plenty of links to pages with generic definitions of what post-natal depression is, but from my own experiences and listening to other mothers I’ve realised that no two people are the same. No doubt that’s why treating mental health problems is so complicated – there needs to be as many treatments as there are sufferers!
What I can say is what PND is to me.
It’s guilt, and fear, and worthlessness. It’s a knot in my stomach and uncontrollable tears, but sometimes no tears at all, even when I need to cry. It’s a sinking realisation that I can’t do this, and wanting to run away from everything, and never come back. It’s feeling apart from my son yet loving him and needing him more than the air I breathe, but never feeling good enough for him. It’s believing my family would be better off without me. It’s sleeplessness and nightmares and feeling as though my batteries are never full. It’s panic and sadness and anxiety and never feeling hungry. It’s wishing for my brain to switch itself off completely.
But it’s also inner strength and resolve, and warm hugs and daytime dozes while my boys are spending time together. It’s takeaways when I don’t have the energy to cook, and food shopping from my parents to help ease the load for a while. It’s friends who love me and want to help, it’s friends who love me and want to help but don’t know how, and it’s bonding with total strangers over a shared struggle.
To me, PND is a war I haven’t yet won, one I’m fighting every day but I know I’m going to win, with my son and husband beside me.