Fear was the greatest factor that held me back from speaking up for so long.
Fear is what held me back from my recovery.
Fear is what kept me trapped within the darkness for so long.
Yet, it was a monumental waste of time that created so much more angst than was necessary and certainly made my days more arduous than they should have been.
So, what exactly was I scared of?
The first time I had a baby, I truly did not know what to expect with the whole package of motherhood and especially after birth. It was because of this that when my symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and the vacant fog of depression were starting to set-in on day 5 post-birth, I had no idea that they were not ‘normal’ feelings to have…and that it was the condition of post-natal depression that was causing all of this.
The second time I gave birth, thankfully I could recognise the very onset of my symptoms slowly creeping in on day 4, so that by the time day 5 came and it kicked me in the head and guts…super hard…we all knew what was happening and exactly what our game plan was.
Yet, the very fact that my body was being ravaged and taken over by very visceral and all-consuming feelings…it was frightening as to what was happening to me.
Not being able to sleep, or eat or stop my incessantly racing mind or think cohesive thoughts…when I had never suffered from anxiety or depression before…felt very overwhelming and very scary.
As a pharmacist I knew all of the signs and symptoms in ‘theory’, which was great…but when I was the one who fell ill and my mind was the one that was turned into an absolute mush…it was not actually very helpful information to have! (or at least helpful for me to have them and not everyone in my family!) I was not able to recognise the first time what on earth was happening to me…
I was also frightened of what would happen to me if I spoke up and explained how disconnected I was from my baby…or how my body had been taken over by some other force.
+ Would ‘they’ lock me away?
+ Would ‘they’ report me to ‘someone’?
I did not even know who ‘they’ or ‘someone’ was. Yet, I was petrified of what ‘they’ may do.
So I remained silent.
I also was so frightened of being stuck in the thick, black, all-encompassing fog forever.
I genuinely believed that there was nothing that anyone could do or say, to change how I was feeling and I thought that I would be riddled by this torture forever. Even the second time, after knowing that I did get better after I had Ari.
It was the fear of not knowing what would make me better, or how I would get better.
It was the fear of not knowing how long it would take to get better…and that was exhausting. Like a Covid fatigue…that keeps on going relentlessly.
I was afraid of what ‘people’ would think about me; like I was flawed, broken, ‘weak’ for thinking and feeling this way. Especially that millions of women give birth each year, that perhaps I was a little ‘self-indulgent’ or ‘high-maintenance’ by not taking it in my stride.
I felt like I was so broken for behaving and feeling the way that I was.
The truth was, I could not change how I felt nor could I control it no matter how hard I tried; yet the visceral feeling that I was being ‘wrong’ in reacting this way after having a baby…when I only had ever seen mothers be happy, joyous and loving…made me keep my silence even more, because how dare I feel this way? I must be the worst person in the world…
Yet, the irony is…fear is what held me back in my silence for so long. It was only by speaking up to my obstetrician and GP (eventually)…that allowed for all of my darkness…my messy and sticky thoughts and feelings to stop. Disappear. Go back to wherever they came from.
Seeking help was the only way out of feeling like I was drowning each day.
It was the only thing that brought me into my recovery!
The strength to open my mouth…use my voice…take that first action step into walking towards taking off my mask; that is what allowed for my connection to my beautiful baby, connection to myself and life itself to return.
That is what allowed for me to think clearly, for the anxiety to instantly stop, to be able to eat and sleep again…
If I remained trapped in my fear, then I would have endured that suffering for even longer without a shadow of a doubt.
Love is the opposite of fear; and it was the unconditional love from my husband and family that encouraged and steered me towards my action steps of speaking out and seeking help. Their unconditional love is what allowed me to cast my fear aside and actually gather the strength that I needed to take my breaths of life again.
If fear is holding you back…I want to say this; you are so deserving to recover from perinatal and post-natal depression.
Nothing you have done has caused this…nothing.
All the love, joy and laughter that life has to offer you…is waiting for you and seeking help from your GP and/or obstetrician is the way out of this darkness! I promise you!
I know that I did not believe that anything would fix how I was feeling…but if someone had told me what I am telling you now, then hopefully it would have allowed me to take that step even sooner and to have had less days trapped within such darkness.
Please know, that speaking up will allow you to walk towards the life that you had before, or one that is even better.
This is a chapter in your life but does not need to be your entire life…and trust that there is so much glorious light waiting at the end of the tunnel.
Take that first brave and courageous step towards that light…and it feels even more bright, more warm and luminous when you get closer.