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This blog was beautifully written by Stephanie Osler. It discusses her journey with post-natal depression and anxiety- a mental health condition that affects 50-75% of women after birth for a short while, and 15% of women long-term.
My Mental Health Story
So where am I now on my journey navigating post-natal depression (PND) and anxiety? Well a lot has happened since my last blog post about dealing with PND … back in March 2018 to be exact! Not long after that post I had my second child.
I guess in a way having had PND and navigating those tricky times actually helped me with several situations I have now encountered. Grab yourself a cuppa because I am about to dive in!
If you have read my blog you will know that it all started when I found out my son had a limb difference at the 20 week scan, which in itself brought a whole host of difficult emotions and feelings to navigate. By this point with my PND I had already had counselling, CBT and was on medication from a couple of years previous and I had just been using the skills I had learnt to keep my anxiety and depression at bay. Admittedly I had a few ups and downs, nothing major in in the grand scheme of things, but I think being in tune with my mind really helped me to notice when I started ‘falling of my perch’ and helped me to stop and “re-centre” myself. Whether that be going to bed at 8:30pm, watching teen mom, doodling, running, walking, anything that helps me feel good – and yes that does include the odd impulsive shopping spree!
Struggling with Mental Health
During my pregnancy I did go off work for 2 weeks as I was really struggling with my mental health, I just went really flat, blank, unemotional, disconnected and I was so so so tired. I felt awful taking the time off, but it was honestly the best thing I ever did. I was supported really well with a mental health midwife and consultant. My friends were an incredible source of support and were always there for me when I needed to talk or brain dump my ‘what if’ worries.
After I had my son I was so nervous about the first week, I dreaded the baby blues, whether they came or not I was not looking forward to them. If I didn’t have them I worried it was going to lead to a worse bout of PND and anxiety, and if I did get the baby blues I worried I wouldn’t know how to cope, and I would work myself up with being emotional and teary and be judged by everyone around me that I wasn’t coping – I can even place myself there … massive milk filled boobs, breast feeding, maternity pads, a wonderful jelly belly and worrying about the baby blues! (As if that should have really been a priority, but it was to me).
Luckily for me I didn’t feel like I did with my daughter. I didn’t have that overwhelming blankness, tiredness, anxiety, and agitated mind … that endless gloomy feeling of just surviving and coping rather than enjoying my time. This time it somehow felt easier, I felt better. I still had the usual ups and downs, frustrations, worries but they felt more appropriate and not so exaggerated and overwhelming – I must admit using the world ‘overwhelming’ is something I have any recently been able to place with my experience. I don’t know why, it never felt overwhelming at the time and by it I mean having a baby, but me emotions and feelings were overwhelming – my mind was never quiet.
Mental Health Advocates
2018-2020 was absolutely bonkers with having two kids two years apart. It was exhausting but it helped me to not put pressure on myself, and accept that I can only do my best. I have spent many evenings reading books, car journeys listening to pod casts, finding mental health advocates on Instagram. I have really tried to focus on understanding who I am and how my brain works … this even involved going to regular counselling/therapy. I didn’t go through the NHS, I was fortunate enough to pay for it myself and I am so glad I did, every financial sacrifice I made to be able to support it was worth it.
A Therapist really helped…
Therapy really helped me to look at myself, my therapist helped me ask and answer questions of myself. A really really hard thing to do, somethings were really hard to admit, but I am glad I pushed through. I don’t want to go into details – I don’t feel like I need to, but if I hadn’t found a therapist I clicked with, I don’t think any amount of books and podcasts would have got me to where I am now. My one bit of advice would be to get therapy if you can, it gives you a safe space to talk about everything – obviously PND and my son’s limb difference were spoken about at great length. In fact I only stopped because of COVID-19, I have had the odd session … because let’s face it this has been a tricky year!
So where am I right now a quarter of a way into 2021?
Well, I am good. Over 4 and a half years on I am still taking my medication which has not changed, I am more forgiving of myself, I go to bed at 8:30pm when my brain feels busy, I exercise to feel good (for some reason lockdown has really helped me feel that endorphin rush!), I journal/doodle when I feel I need to. This year has been tough, my usual fun activities I do to cheer myself up can’t happen – like meeting up with friends, getting a costa coffee, going out for food and just being able to plan seeing my friends. I have been working as a nurse throughout the pandemic and have been really honest with myself about how I am coping and have accessed my therapist when I have needed to talk to someone impartial when I have felt overwhelmed.
Maternal mental health is a challenge; it’s hard when you your whole life has changed within the time span of being pregnant to having a baby. I thought my journey with PND would have ended by now and I would be off medication, but that’s not my reality. Maybe one day it will be. I’ve learnt not to put a time frame on weaning medication or expecting to feel a certain way. It has ended in disappointment, a friend said that I should just accept I will just be on the medication and it is what it is and for me that’s great advice – I have taken the pressure off getting ‘better’ and just focusing on the things I can.
If you, or somebody you know is suffering from Postnatal depression, you can get help and read more about it via this link: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/postnatal-depression-and-perinatal-mental-health/about-maternal-mental-health-problems/
Hi, I’m Louise- mum of one to a little boy called Mason.
I am the Digital Marketing and Admin Assistant for MyBump2Baby.
I enjoy working to provide excellent service to MyBump2Baby’s growing families.
Nice to meet you!