Confessions of a Mad Mooer: that’s what she said

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I’ve been let out! After four weeks in the nut house I’ve been thrust back into society with all you good folk. I’ve been rubber stamped sane… well not so much sane as ready to take the long journey required to heal, reflect and become a more positive person. I of course miss the new friends that I made but am glad to be home. My fellow inmates truly were a bunch of fantastic mums with beautiful, all be it fragile, spirits.

Fantastic mums??? I hear some of you question. How can mums with postnatal depression be fantastic mums. Aren’t they all a bunch of baby hating, self indulgent cows? Aren’t they all bad mothers? The answer is quite simply – nope. And it has got me to thinking about some of the thoughts people have regarding postnatal depression and why there is such a stigma attached to it. So I’d like to take this time to address the black dog in the room and comment about some of the things people have said to me on finding out I had and yet again have postnatal depression.

You can’t have postnatal depression, you like your baby?
The vast majority of the women I have met who are battling postnatal depression, both in and out of the chicken coup, absolutely love their kids. They sing to their children, they hug them, they praise them, they play with them, they pick them up, they do everything a ‘normal’ loving mother would do. Despite all this love they still struggle with anxiety and coping. When your baby is unsettled that’s stressful for anyone. Few people simply don’t care if their baby screams however, once the crisis is over most mums can start to calm down also. It is tough, it is unpleasant, they look forward to when this phase will pass and their tension can ease. With a mum with PND their thoughts spiral out of control ~ I’ve done something to upset the baby, it’s my fault the baby is upset, I’ll never be able to sooth my baby, I’m a terrible mother, I’m ruining my precious baby’s life and causing permanent damage because I can’t work out what is wrong, I’m a terrible person, I’m useless, I’m worthless, the baby would be better off without me so that they could get a better mother. The crisis is over but the thoughts keep churning around in our heads. With every unsettled period and every perceived mistake we make the thoughts we have regarding ourselves and our fitness to parent our beautiful child become darker. Tears come, screams escape, zoning out happens. As a result of this seemingly uncontrollable negative thinking many mums like myself become paralysed by guilt. We love their baby so much that they drive their body’s and minds to ruin making super human efforts to be perfect. Our bodies breakdown and we can no longer function. For others they become so lost in the nightmare in their head that they start to retreat and zone out. They are physically present but not mentally. They can have some bonding issues simply because they checked out of reality because it was too painful rather than disliking their babies. And yes their are a few that start to resent their baby for dredging up all these feelings and this resentment can start to spiral into anger and hate. It can seriously affect the mother child bond. But from my experience angst ridden, tearful, making yourself sick, kind of postnatal depression seems far more prevalent. Regardless of how it manifests it is highly treatable and people do get better with help. They can shed these negative thoughts and become the happy, positive, parents that they want to be.

Oh my god! Have you been thinking about hurting your baby?
No! Not everyone with PND wants to hurt their baby. Left untreated and unsupported it could get to these extreme levels but generally no. Women with PND are far more likely to hate themselves than their babies. They feel hopeless and useless and like the baby and the world would be better off without them. But of course not all women with PND have suicidal idealisations. It isn’t a stereotypical, one size fits all condition. And there is a world of difference between Postnatal Depression and Postnatal Psychosis. Suffering from depression does not make you psychotic or dissociative. It’s actually quite offensive to treat someone active getting treatment like they’re completely unhinged and are on the verge of murder suicide at any moment. And treating people like they can’t be trusted actually holds up treatment and makes people unwilling to communicate because they’ll have to put up with a whole host of bullshit assumptions.

You still have your sense of humour so everything must be ok.
When I was being catered away in the ambulance with full blown Pancreatitis I was still making jokes. The mask of humour in public stays firmly in place lest we turn into gibbering messes in public and become social outcasts.

You look good so you must be okay.
Thank you. I’m one sexy bitch.

Everybody feels like that.
True. Every mother has moments like this but the feelings don’t last as long. Minimising these long term, pervasive feelings only holds up a woman getting help. It doesn’t help.

Some people are just more anxious than others, you don’t need treatment.
You do not have to live with anxiety. You deserve a better life and so do your kids. Some people may be happy to live as a shaking anxious mess and have those they love suffer through this but that doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve help. Anxiety is very treatable.

Other people have it tougher than you so why aren’t you coping.
Hooray for them. Seriously good on them. BUT if you’re going to compare do it properly. Do they have your history, have they had your health complaints, do they get more help??? And even if they are this amazing super human who can juggle 17 kids without breaking a sweat, whilst working fulltime, without any babysitting and have perfectly well adjusted children that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person for not coping. Everybody is different. We all have different skills and have had different role models. It’s okay to struggle with things and for others to find it easy. We aren’t all scientific geniuses, we aren’t all amazing singers. It’s okay to have your own skills and your own struggles and it’s okay to get help with areas you struggle with.

You’re a selfish mother and just want to do your own thing and not tend your baby.
My response to this is simple… fuck off.

Just keep going and it will get better.
Sure… and if you just keep walking on a broken leg it will get better too… sure it will…

Just needed to get that off my chest. I’ll keep you updated on my progress with more Confessions of a Mad Mooer.

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10 responses »

  1. Thank you for liking one of my posts because it gave me a chance to read this. Almost a year after the birth of my third child — who had some health issues on top of things — I spent some time in a psych ward for the severity of my depression. I blamed myself for it in so many ways since I was also a pastor’s wife and heard a lot of the you look fine and your baby looks fine so what could be wrong stuff. I am now in my 50s, my youngest is mother of my two grandchildren and I still find your post reaches me in the places I never quite let go of guilt for the suicidal thought I put myself in the ward to fight. You helped me even though I am no longer a mom of young children.

      • I didn’t realize it was post partum depression as a part of all that was in the mix. But when you describe the feelings, I totally relate to what you were writing. And yes, there was a lot of stigma in getting help 27 years ago.

  2. Welcome home! I love your answers to the questions. Mental health is so undervalued in so many societies. Mental health care here in the US is woefully lacking. My mother was bipolar, and in the end, ended up killing herself. The thing was, when I was going through the house after she died, I found some paperwork from her most recent hospitalization (2 months prior) that had a checklist of what to do if you felt suicidal. She had basically signed an agreement to follow the steps to get help. And then she made up her mind to end it all, and she did. What a joke.

  3. Thank you so very much for this post. I am a fellow sufferer in recovery. Thank you for clearing up all the misconceptions that serve only to make us feel worse about ourselves than we already do. I look forward to future posts.

    • I think one day that there won’t just be the two divisions of postnatal depression and postnatal psychosis but also a third category called postnatal anxiety.

  4. Pingback: Writers with Vagingos: #pitchbitch | Write or Wrong

  5. Pingback: Confessions of a Mad Mooer: sometimes my kids are so sweet that it pains me that I suck so much #PND | Write or Wrong

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