I used to be greeted with frowns and “oh” when I would tell people I have postnatal depression, I knew what they were thinking…and some of them would actually say it..
“Did you hurt your children?”
Actually no. I didn’t. I don’t. My parenting style is gentle and I don’t even smack my kids. In fact I’m all for the, get-down-to-your-level for tantrums and talk about our feelings. Do negative thoughts run through my head? Yes. But mainly they’re a reflection of me, and my doubt of parenting and self doubt in general. They’re mainly negative thoughts of myself to myself. The outburst of them comes out in tears and isolation.
Postnatal depression isn’t textbook, or one size fits all. You can be all or none, or some. You can get it in pregnancy, at birth or a year later. Some days you’re a champion, you feel good. Some days you’re a mess, (I like to call myself a hot mess on these days (note: I probably have a different interpretation of what that means)). I’ve met women who doubt themselves, and then there are women who really doubt themselves. Who question everything they do and wonder if they’re good enough. Their negative thoughts are constantly reinforced in their minds that they are a “bad mother”. No one ever really believes they are perfect, but when it starts to affect your day to day life,and all you know is guilt, you can suffer from postnatal depression. That can be what consumes you. It doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad mother. 1 in 7 women get it. It’s not abnormal, although you don’t feel normal. It’s hurtful and difficult but it’s something you can treat and it definitely does not mean you are weak. And it doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids. In fact you love them so much your heart hurts.
Having postnatal depression isn’t anyone’s fault. It’s an illness. It’s not something you can turn off and on, you can seek to control it with care and medication but it’s not all in your control whether you have it or not. It’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. And guilt can go fuck itself.
I don’t sit and cry every day. I function quite well. I do suffer in silence some days, and some days I’ll suffer loudly and cry in the shower. Some days I’m numb, and some days I’m irritable and angry. But every single day, I love my children.
I love to see my children smile, I love to hear them laugh. I’ve been on a long road of wanting to improve myself, and cure myself. I want to do this for my children. They are my everything, even if some days I’ll refer to them as assholes because they didn’t sleep all night. I love them. No one could love them more than me, and if someone else called them an asshole, I’d defend them to the death.
The myth of all mothers with PND harm their children is damaging, because it heightens fears in mothers that, that is their path. It’s not. In fact the only person a woman with intense postnatal depression would think of harming, would be herself.
Not everyone who is depressed is morbid or completely unhappy. Not everyone who calls their kids jerks or complains about them, think that they actually are jerks or hate their children. Not everyone who has post natal depression wants to harm their kids. Mothers can have depression and love their children and enjoy them. Shocking, isn’t it?
(Post partum psychosis is thoughts of harming your children, please seek immediate help or call 000 in that instance. No one has to go through anything alone) xx