Postnatal depression… the first time I heard these words come out of my doctor I felt helpless. Overwhelmed. Like a failure. She went on to tell me that it was time that seeing a psychologist and going on medication for my depression and anxiety was the only option left in a hope of getting better. I tried so hard and convinced myself that I could do it on my own, to get better and get back to the old me without any aid from anyone. Through tears I reluctantly said yes to everything she was suggesting. I was at the bottom and so I had nothing else to lose. I barely recognised myself. I called to make my first appointment.
Attending My First Psychology Appointment for Postnatal Depression
I remember feeling so out of place sitting and waiting to see the psychologist. How did I get here? Things like this don’t happen to happy people like me. Well it did and here I am. A hard truth I learnt along the way is that depression and anxiety does not pick and choose. As I get called in I remember trying really hard to compose myself and hold it together. I thought to myself that if I let the psychologist see that I was doing ok, I could get out of here sooner.
I was greeted by a really warm smile. I shook his hand as I wanted to appear professional and with it. Don’t ask me why I did that, the mind does funny things when you are falling apart on the inside and trying to not fall apart on the outside. We got all the technicalities out of the way with Medicare and all the while I tried to have a big smile on my face. When all that was done, he sat back and with a gentle voice asked me what had been happening that has brought me here today.
So, in most professional voice, I began to tell him what had happened right from the birth of my second daughter. That I was known at work for setting a fast pace and I could manage my work load and then some. I almost sounded proud that my pace was set to running all the time and that I now found it incredibly difficult to even get up in the morning. I was crying for no reason and I didn’t want to see anybody. I couldn’t look after my daughters because there was a disconnect. I found it so degrading and embarrassing
The whole time I was talking, I could see him looking at me and analysing. Squinting his eyes while he focused on what I was saying. What I didn’t expect though was that I started to relax and after a little while, I give in. I gave in to the reason why I had to be here. I gave into my weak mental health. I gave into getting help from someone that knew what they were doing instead of trying to do it on my own. What I realised in hindsight was that in giving in, I wasn’t actually giving up. I was doing something that took a lot of strength, I embraced getting help.
I told him my fear about going on medication and my fear about going to see him. He took it all in and started to help me though all my emotions, the good the bad and the insanely ugly. He told me to have one goal every day. Just one goal. If that was to have a shower, then so be it. Start small and from the ground up. Once I had that one thing down pat then I would add another thing to my list. I was basically learning to live again. It is really odd to give yourself a pat on the back for having a shower everyday but the thing with depression is, your self-care gets thrown in the bin. You don’t see the need to look after yourself anymore because you don’t value yourself enough to do so.
I saw him every week and every week I could feel the weight being lifted. I cannot describe the feeling to being able to breathe again. The freedom of not feeling like everything was black and suffocating. Depression hurt, but I hurt myself more by resisting help. The biggest thing I learnt was trust and letting go. As much as depression wants to pull you away and isolate you, accept the help. Let go of everything you thought you knew about getting yourself better and instead just listen. Listen to those around you who are trying to help you, because when you are at your lowest point, the ones that hang around are truly there to get you through this.
How You Can Get Help for Postnatal Depression
If by any chance you are feeling low more days then not, having trouble sleeping, overwhelmed and more… these could be symptoms of postnatal depression and it’s best to seek help by going to your local GP who will be able to assist you further. Prior to going to your appointment with your GP you can also write down how you’ve been feeling so that you’re able to articulate this to your GP.
During your visit your GP will help to better understand where you’re currently at, but also explore connecting you with a psychologist, maybe even looking at medication options and if needed referring you to a psychiatrist.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
From someone who has risen from the darkest of depths of postnatal depression, I can tell you that though the road maybe difficult there will come a time when you feel like the old you again. Remember it’s ok to ask for help. In fact, it’s imperative for both you, child and your family.
If you’re feeling alone, please feel free to join my Facebook Community: Motherhood Unplugged Community as it’s a great place to seek connection, conversation and community.
Molly is an entrepreneur at one of Australia’s leading online baby/kids/mothers store called Motherhood Unplugged, blogger and most importantly a mother. She explores various topics related to parenting/children on her blog and also has a very active and supportive Facebook Community: Motherhood Unplugged Community.