I did not think I was depressed. I thought it was normal to feel incredibly sad all the time – especially since I was having trouble breastfeeding and it was something I really wanted to do. I thought it was normal to feel incredibly anxious all the time – I mean, who doesn’t think that every car driving the other way down the road is about to swerve and crash into you, right?
There was no one I could talk to about how I was feeling apart from my husband, because I barely knew the women in my mother’s group and I felt like if I told my family I would just be unnecessarily whinging and burdening them. I thought I just needed to suck it up and get over it. Everyone else is doing it tough. You’re just facing first world problems. Shut up.
But I couldn’t get over it. On a daily basis I was drowning in the cacophony of inner voices that shouted at me:
you’re a shithouse mother! you don’t deserve to have a baby! stop feeling sorry for yourself! you’re not trying hard enough! you’re useless! no wonder you don’t have any friends! you’re pathetic! nobody loves you!’ and so on and so on…
In addition to this incredibly unpleasant mental peanut gallery I also had an overwhelming sense of foreboding about EVERYTHING. I thought the house was going to burn down at any moment. That I would crash my car. That someone close to me would die of cancer/an aneurysm/a stroke/insert unlikely disease here.
If you’re reading this and thinking it sounds familiar, please rest assured that it is NOT NORMAL.
I went and saw my GP because my husband was getting quite concerned and begged me to go and talk to someone. My GP explained that I was suffering from postnatal depression and generalised anxiety disorder, and referred me to a psychologist. She also recommended a book called The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris.
The sessions with the psychologist were transformative. We worked on a number of strategies including mindfulness, making time for myself and defusing the negative thoughts that assailed me. The psychologist also recommended The Happiness Trap – I didn’t read it then, but I have since started it and will write a separate post about its awesomeness.
I was lucky in that I was able to overcome my depression and anxiety, for the most part, after 6 sessions of talk therapy and no medical intervention. Other mamas are not let off so easily. If you’re feeling sad for days on end it’s so important that you go and seek professional help sooner rather than later. The sooner you get on to it the easier it will be to resolve.
Here are some excellent resources for anyone who is feeling like they might have depression or anxiety:
I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue so please leave a comment below xx