If someone would have told my younger self…or myself whilst going through post-natal depression at the time, that I would one day be able to impart my wisdom or words of comfort to others…I definitely would have laughed in their face…and then laughed some more!
Yet, as I sit and write this, 7 years after my first recovery and 3 years after second recovery…there actually is a lot of guidance, experience, wisdom and words of genuine comfort that I would love to share with you all…
The first would be, that there is light at the end of the tunnel…I promise.
I know 100 per cent that I did not think there was…nor believe that anything would ever change (even after knowing that I did get better the first time!) …so I completely can empathise with how you are feeling!
Yet, please believe me when I say that there IS light there waiting for you and it will come…if you take action by being honest with how you are feeling and then speaking up to your partner and then health care team. Together with resources, support and treatments (whatever that may look and be for you and your unique symptoms and circumstances) …which are available to you too, this will allow for you to walk towards your recovery.
I would also say that please do not think that it will ‘get better, go away, disappear’ on its own…nor think that there isn’t anything that will work or change how it is that you feel (which is truly what I thought during the depths of my illness).
The truth was though, that seeking help was the only way out from feeling like I could not breathe…like I was drowning in the all-encompassing pain and suffering that PND created or engulfed me with.
I did not believe that anything would change my disconnection from myself…the disconnection from my beautiful baby or disconnection from life itself…
However, as soon as I sought treatment which allowed for my biochemistry to ‘buzz’ or ‘spark’ back into equilibrium…this then in turn, buzzed me back into myself…ALL of the horrendous feelings that I was feeling; moment after moment…thought after thought…breath after breath…stopped.
Life had a renewed perspective; filled with so much light, love and glorious hope!
It seems almost too good to be true…but it is the truth of what is possible…and it is available to you too my beautiful Mama! I promise!
If I held myself back from being honest with how disconnected and how unwell I was, then I am sure that I would have remained stuck where I was…stagnant…drowning in the feelings that felt so unbelievably real. My children would not have the present and connected mother that they deserve.
But, there IS a way out from feeling this way and the rippling effects that can ensue from the chemical reactions happening post-birth! That is all that is happening! Science, within your body…so remove the fear, guilt, shame, embarrassment and whatever other layers that you may be carrying…and allow yourself to walk towards your recovery and allow for this balance within your system to return.
It is WORTH it! I promise! You are so incredibly deserving to feel and savour your recovery.
Your beautiful children are waiting for you to connect with them…and it will come by speaking with your GP or obstetrician…
What else would you say?
I would also say that recovery may not be a ‘quick fix’ as we are so used to in the modern Western world that we live in. We definitely exist in a sequential ‘broken/fix it’ way of life…and healing of this nature, does require us to be patient, to hold faith and resolve in whatever it is that gives you strength whilst our biochemistry has a chance to return back to homeostasis.
It can be a waiting game.
Which can feel exhausting, frustrating, uncertain and not a very clear definitive ‘end point’ to work towards. I personally felt that way and a sense of not knowing how long I could hold on for.
Pharmacologically, it can take 1-3 weeks to see an effect from medication (if medication is what is deemed appropriate by your health team; not necessarily needed though!), 4-6 weeks for most effects to be seen and sometimes up to 6-8 weeks for the full effects to be seen…knowing this timeline, as well as appreciating that there are many agents that work in different ways; so finding the exact recipe for you, may (or may not) take some time…but that should not hold you back; but rather encourage you to seek help sooner rather than later
I also appreciate that there can be stubborn or resistant cases, but those too I believe with open communication with your healthcare team can achieve some respite too…please hold on and never give up.
I would also say that upon acknowledging that you are ready to seek treatment, I encourage you to write a statement of commitment to yourself. Write a statement of your ‘why’ and place it somewhere to constantly remind you of what you have committed to and why.
This will keep you motivated and accountable in never giving up, as you have made a promise and pledge to yourself and your loved ones of moving towards your recovery.
It will empower and motivate you profoundly.
What is another pearl you would share?
This acronym below, is a very simple yet POWERFUL acronym to remember and recite to yourself anytime you need a reminder of what you can do to help get you AWAY from feeling the way that you do!
I remember feeling so stuck in the thick fog that I felt like I was drowning…yet, if someone who had PND had told me that I would get better and given me tools to use to hold and walk towards my healing (I did not know ANYONE that had it, so I felt so isolated and alone in my experience; hence my passionate and urgent need to disseminate my story and pearls so that not one more person feels alone and isolated in her condition ever again!) …then I would have had more confidence and courage to walk along the jagged path…knowing that;
+ I was not alone in how I was feeling
+ That there was a way out of how I was feeling and;
+ There were clear action steps to pull me out of this mess…
So, here is my little ARMER acronym… and like physical armour, let it give you strength and provide you with the ability and capacity to face the challenges head on (literally!);
ACRONYM FOR SURVIVING THIS PERIOD
A Ask for help from your partner, family and friends
R Reach out for help from health professionals
M Make a commitment statement to yourself and keep it with you to keep accountability
E Exercise; make it a daily priority not for weight loss or exertion but for your endorphins and well-being
R Rest when your body tells you to and partake in rejuvenation practices to heal your body