Have you ever felt like you were in a big black hole and couldn’t get out, couldn’t see any light at the end of that hole? That is how I felt for most of the first 18 months of being a mum.
I felt so lost and alone, yet I had so many people around me willing to help.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment or time that I knew something was wrong. There was something not quite right with how I was feeling on day 5 after having my son. Everything was so overwhelming. We got home, and my husband and I didn’t leave the house for the first 2 weeks. I didn’t want to face anyone or go outside, I had no idea what I was doing and kept kicking myself that I thought it was a good idea to have a baby. ‘I shouldn’t be a mum’ was the one thought that kept running through my head. This poor baby has ME to keep him alive? I felt like I couldn’t look after myself, let alone my son!
I fell into a very dark place extremely quickly. My son and I couldn’t get the whole breastfeeding thing right, we would sit on the lounge at every feed and 60% of those times I was crying the whole way through. He wouldn’t sleep, and I felt like we had tried everything, and everything had failed.
Some days he would cry, and I would just stare at him, not thinking of ways I could console him, not rushing around to get ready to feed him, just stare blankly at him with nothing running through my head. I didn’t have the mental capacity to look after him or myself. So many days I wouldn’t eat until late afternoon, I was not looking after myself. There was a problem every week. I remember calling my husband crying most days asking him to come home from work because I just couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t be able to explain what had set me off, what happened during the day that had completely changed my mood and state of mind.
I did not want to be alive, I was convinced that my son would be better off without me, anyone could look after him better than I was. The worst thing I was doing was putting on a happy face and lying to everyone that I was ok. I finally started telling the people closest to me how I was really feeling, and it felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.
My psychologist Chris Barnes from Gidget House helped me with all the different tools I can use to get through a day; get outside, go for a walk, take a minute and have time to myself. It was also around this time I was prescribed medication to help and I didn’t hesitate, the way I saw things was that anything that could help me I would do.
I decided to go back to work when my son was 9 months old. This was a big turning point for me, once I went back to work and fell into a schedule that I felt like I could manage, I started to see the light at the end of that hole. I am extremely lucky to have the support that I do, and I wouldn’t have got through this without those people. It really does take a village to raise a child but also a village to be there for the mother and father!
Not every day is perfect, but I feel so much stronger and confident in myself these days that I know the dark days will become less and less, and the moments of pure joy with my son will continue.