Admitting to post natal depression

Posted Tuesday 26th November 2013   By Ericka Waller

When Thing-one was first born, I felt great. I distinctly remember the husband going back to work after his two weeks paternity leave. How I dressed my baby all by myself, strapped her in the buggy all by myself, took her out walking all by myself. I felt like I was flying. When she was six months old, I had to go back to work. That is when the anxiety started.

I would be sitting in a meeting and suddenly the room would start spinning. My breath would catch in my throat and my heart would pound so loudly I was sure everyone could hear it.

It got worse. I began to panic every time I went out. A queue, wide open spaces, car journeys, cafes. Nowhere was safe.

I was exhausted. Nails bitten to the quick. My pillow was saturated with my nightmares.  I started to suffer from depersonalization, the feeling of being in a dream. Life was not real. I was trapped behind a pane of glass and no one could reach me.

I adored my baby, but I hated myself. I began to avoid going out and calling in sick at work. My husband listened to me convince myself that I was just tired over and over. Finally, he gently told me it was more than that. I was not acting normally.

Deep down I knew I was not well. I just did not want to admit it. I was scared my baby would be taken away from me.

The doctor diagnosed me with postnatal-depression (PND) and separation anxiety. He wanted to give me beta-blockers for the panic attacks, but I would not be able to breastfeed on them, so I refused.

A dear friend of mine bought me ‘Essential help for your nerves’ by Dr Claire Weeks. It became my bible.

By this point I was anxious all the time. Life was becoming a struggle.

My husband downloaded audio books onto an ipod mini for me to keep in my pocket, along with a vial of Rescue Remedy. People at work might have thought I was listening to music. I was actually listening to Dr Claire Weeks reminding me how to breathe.

 Slowly things got better. Reading about anxiety and depression helped me understand my feelings. Talking to my husband and friends helped too. I learned to be kind to myself. I lay in hot baths, ate lots of chocolate. I started running. I held my baby for hours. I made sure I got lots of sleep.

Looking back now I can see how ill I was. At the time I was so lost and confused and scared I did not have a clue.

Postnatal depression can happen to the happiest, most positive people.  If it is not diagnosed, if the people suffering do not get help, it can become much worse.