I wrote this after the birth of Cortez, it’s sat in my notes app for over a year and a half because I was too scared to post it, I was scared of being looked at differently. But you know what? Screw it, why should I care what anyone else thinks!? I care more about someone who may be sitting there suffering alone from the same symptoms that I felt and feeling like there’s no way out. I care more about someone realising that they aren’t alone and how important it is to reach out to someone for help and support! Iv seen so much of it around on Facebook lately even family and friends suffering.
Depression is terrifying and crippling! You don’t feel sad or happy you just feel empty, you feel nothing, as though someone has ripped your soul from your body.
This is about my own personal journey, a journey that I never thought in a million years I would have had to walk..a journey that is so isolating and scary and feels like there’s no way out! I’m here to tell you that there is a way out of the darkness and I hope me sharing my experience helps at least one person to realise that they are not alone.
It all started nearly 4 years ago after the birth of our second son London, the birth was super fast and everything was normal, I was happy and loved being a mum of two, life was perfect! Everything changed not long after..my whole world came crashing down around me. We got a phone call to say my husbands grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. I couldn’t believe it, I started googling and it frightened the life out of me. I then became obsessed with checking myself constantly for any lumps and bumps, and when I say obsessed I mean everytime I moved I would check my whole body, it started to over rule my life..24/7 I thought about it I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, my relationship with my husband was going down the shitter and worst of all I couldn’t enjoy my children the way I should have been. Whenever I felt sick I convinced myself I had the horrible “C” word..weeks went by and it only got worse, I couldn’t understand what was wrong with me and why I was feeling this way but never did it occur to me that I may have depression. I wasn’t happy but at the same time I wasn’t sad..I felt numb, just constantly numb.
My husband left his job he had then to move closer to the family and be there for his grandmother and to help out when she returned from hospital. The day we moved and started unloading the the boxes off the truck into the new house my husband received a phone call off his father telling us to get over to the hospital as the Drs didn’t think his grandmother would make it. I felt physically sick, I had never seen anyone go through anything like this before, only on tv, it was all too real and frightening for me. I remember that day so clearly, I remember the smell of the room, the noises of pain, everyone singing her songs..everything. I remember standing in the corridor crying and feeling so ill, ill to the point I wanted to throw up and my chest hurt so bad and I felt like I couldn’t breathe properly. I had never seen anything like this before, I wanted to run and hide and erase everything from my memory, I wanted it to go away!
Sadly she passed away shortly after and the way I felt got worse every single day after that. 24/7 I replayed in my head what I saw, I just couldn’t escape it no matter how hard I tried. I started having really bad chest pains and convinced myself I was having a heart attack, my husband rushed me to hospital terrified. They put me on the heart monitor and said everything was fine, I had X-rays done and remember sitting waiting terrified for the results, scared that they would give me terrible news. They didn’t..they told me I had an anxiety attack. A what?! Never had I even heard of this before, I felt so confused!!
I went home and did more googling and depression and anxiety kept popping up everywhere I looked. I still wasn’t convinced that this is what was making me feel so awful every single second of the day..it just couldn’t be! I had never told anyone about the way I felt, not my mum, not my friends and not even my husband I just kept it to myself in hope that it would disappear by itself. I didn’t want anyone to look at me any different.
As months went by and my symptoms still getting worse I started to honestly believe that was I going to die, that these chest pains I was having where soon to end my life, take me away from my family and leave my children to live their lives without me..their mum. I was absolutely terrified to go to sleep at night incase I never woke up.
One day I just broke down to my husband I couldn’t keep it in any longer, I told him how I felt and how it started after his grandmother became sick and I had wondered if I was actually depressed..he just looked at me blankly, I knew right then he didn’t understand, he told me I just needed to harden up and stop thinking about it, it’s life. It’s what happens! I felt embarrassed and weak and I regretted ever saying anything. After this I kept lying to him trying to pretend I was ok and trying to act normal around him. I felt so alone, like no one cared because no one noticed, no one knew or understood what I was going through. I felt like I didn’t deserve my children because I just wasn’t in the right head space..I kept telling myself that they didn’t need to be and shouldn’t be around someone like me, this isn’t what a mum should be like, so unhappy,they deserve better!
One day I was at my mums house and she asked me if I was ok, I seemed really down and not myself, I broke down in tears and fell to my knees and just told her everything! I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, a weight I had been carrying alone for months! She hugged me and told me it was ok, that I’d get through it and she would be there every step of the way..these where the words I had longed to hear from my husband but never did.
I got the help I needed and was put on two different medications, one for the depression and one to help calm me down and get sleep. Iv never been one to take medication unless absolutely necessary, I even hate taking paracetamol! I was warned that the pills to help me sleep are addictive and that I would need to be careful, they helped me to get much needed rest and I was eventually able to wean myself off them.
A little while later came ‘From London To Brooklyn’ where I started making baby shoes at home, I finally felt like I was starting to feel normal again, I had something to distract my mind and something that I really enjoyed doing! About 6 months into it I found out that we where expecting baby number 3 and I freaked out that the depression and anxiety may come back with a vengeance. I didn’t like the thought of taking pills while pregnant so I completely stopped them, threw them out and told myself this was it! I still had anxiety attacks most days but apart form this I felt like normality was starting to come back, everything was beginning to look up!
In some ways I feel like my son saved/cured me as I knew I had to get through it for him, for my other two babies and for my family, I couldn’t keep living my life with a big what if..what if I don’t wake up,what if I die tomorrow, what if I have this , what if I have that..I needed to stop this and start living life and enjoying every single god dam moment, life’s too short for what if’s, I need to make the most of it!!
I look back now and honestly wonder how I got through it, the feeling of darkness closing in and feeling so isolated and feeling like I was lying to everyone by keeping it to myself I don’t know how I got through it but I just did! I often wonder if I had told some one sooner would things be different? if my husband understood then, would it be different? I think the answer is yes, yes things would have been different, I wouldn’t have suffered alone for so long and felt so alone, I could have dealt to it sooner and wouldn’t have felt like I lost out on so much time with my babies!
Something I learnt with this experience is that it is hard for some people to understand depression, it doesn’t mean that you are a weak person, you can’t just snap out of it, you have absolutely no control over the way it makes you feel! It wasn’t until after I started to feel normal again that I actually sat my husband down and told him everything, how I had felt, how it made me feel that I felt he wasn’t there for me when I needed him the most, he just didn’t understand and couldn’t understand how I couldn’t just stop feeling that way. We read a lot of info online together so he actually began to get an idea of how it makes you feel, he felt so guilty and sorry that he wasn’t really there. I wish I had opened up to him more instead of shutting him off, it wasn’t his fault he just needed me to open up more so that he could try to understand.
My life since then has thankfully been back to how it used to be, I’m back to my normal happy self and while sometimes I do still have the odd anxiety attack I have learnt what triggers it (mainly too much coffee and not enough sleep!) I’m so grateful that I was able to overcome it in a short amount of time as for some people it can take years. So if your reading this and you are going through the same struggle just please know that you are not alone, you don’t have to to walk this dark path without the support of others and there IS light at the end of the tunnel even tho it may not feel like it right now. And to anyone reading this who hasn’t been through it or doesn’t understand please be kind to people, as the saying goes ‘everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about’, be there for them any way you can even if you don’t understand and be there when they come out on the other side. Women are able to hide symptoms of PND, they can care for their babies as normal and appear fine to those around them but on the inside they are suffering, feeling numb,hopeless and feeling like they are drowning..drowning in a black hole that seems impossible to get out of. NEVER JUDGE WHAT YOU DONT UNDERSTAND.