I wanted to write a post about my experience with PND. I’ve read other peoples stories, and they vary wildly in terms of symptoms, and reactions. If you’ve ever experienced it, or are still struggling like me, I would be so glad to hear your experiences too.
PND doesn’t always start straight away. Sometimes it can take days, or months for it to manifest itself. I found that, due to my history of depression, I was likely to be more susceptible to it. So whilst I was surprised when it happened, part of me expected it and almost embraced it. It was almost like welcoming and old friend you hadn’t seen in ages, and it was like they’d never been away.
Whilst it was familiar, it was also strange and scary too. I had never wanted to end my life before, but suddenly, I was presented with an overwhelming urge to walk into a lake and not come out again.
The only thing that stopped me was having my son with me. I couldn’t leave him there on his own, so young and so helpless. I didn’t want him to grow up believing his mum didn’t want him and couldn’t cope with him. Nothing was further from the truth. I adore him, but something inside me wanted me to go.
I look at photographs taken of him last year, and some of them I cannot even remember being taken. They are so alien to me; they could be someone else’s child. There are huge gaps of time missing from last year, where I cannot remember anything that happened. It scares me that I cannot remember, and that I cannot share those memories with him when he gets older.
It was never a case of me not wanting to look after him, I wanted to protect him. It was me I couldn’t look after. I couldn’t wash, eat properly or find joy in anything. I still struggle with these things now.
There was a bonding issue that I never noticed, but other people picked up on. It really hurt for people to think that. I had never looked after a child in my life, so it was a very daunting prospect for me, which I imagine is the case for a lot of new parents.
When the GP put me on Sertraline, it was a relief knowing that in a way, I had embraced my illness. I could fight it, and hopefully regain some of my life back. It’s not been easy, and it still isn’t easy now. I’ve never wanted to kill myself again, but there are days when I just want to stay in bed and not have any responsibilities. It sounds utterly childish and selfish to say that, but if you’ve ever suffered from depression, you will know how that feels.
Knowing that I suffer from PND and depression is overwhelming, but I know when I am becoming ill again. The scariest part is the delusions, something I’m too embarrassed to discuss with anybody. To explain it, it’s like constantly living in a daydream. You can function normally, but it feels robotic. When you are not engaged in a normal activity, you slip into this fantasy world, and it consumes every single minute of every single thought.
No one will notice it. But you can. You would rather be in this world where you make the future and can control what happens. Sounds great doesn’t it? Yep, until you realise it’s not real and it’s never going to happen. You come crashing down into the real world and it’s scary, horrible, dark and utterly terrifying.
I am also a chronic paranoid. Everyone is talking about me, making fun of me, generally being mean to me behind my back. Every problem is caused by me, people hate me, I will never get anywhere in my life. It makes me anxious, it makes me panic and I can’t function properly. It’s exhausting being me, and I know it’s not just me who feels like this.
I bet a lot of people could relate when I say I wish I had a switch in my head, so that I could turn off my thoughts at night to get some sleep. How blissful a quiet head would be?
Lenny is 20 months old as I write this, and we’re lucky to have got through this time (relatively) unscathed. I do wonder if deep down, any of my emotions have embedded themselves inside him, but if I worry about that, it’s just another thing to add to my list. I won’t analyse him, he is just a little boy who needs a guiding hand through the world.
I look at him now, and I wonder how I could ever have considered killing myself. When you have a child, it is the most amazing and fulfilling thing in the world, and it’s an absolute honour to be his mum. I am lucky that I corrected myself so that I am able to see what the future holds for him.