I wanted to share my experience through PNDA in the hope that I could help other women who are going through it, who are in a tough place and not knowing why and how to get help.
When I had my kids it was the most joyous time of my life. To be able to experience the miracle of pregnancy, growing life inside you, and sharing that unconditional love was hands down the most incredible gift life could offer. I had children late in life. Ava was born two days before my 38th birthday. Wanting a sibling for her and with my biological clock ticking loudly, I got pregnant again within a couple of years and had my second daughter Stella at 40.
After being blessed with two beautiful girls, my husband and I decided to try for a boy and I got pregnant quite soon after with my son, Marlon. Our little family was complete. Three gorgeous healthy children, a loving husband, and a beautiful home. Life was perfect! Well, it should have been.
Having three little ones under the age of five certainly was busy and there wasn’t much time for rest. Looking back, I don’t think I had a proper sleep for years. I wanted to be the best mum and wife and I prioritised that. Putting all my effort into my family and forgetting to check in with myself and listening to my body and what it needed. I loved looking after my kids, breastfeeding was a delight, and the days were filled with constant moments of pure joy but I started sensing that I wasn’t feeling myself. Something wasn’t quite right.
But I pushed on because I thought that this was just part of being a mum. It wouldn’t last and tomorrow would be a new day and everything would be ok. But it wasn’t and those feelings became stronger. It crept up on me and I couldn’t shake it anymore. What started with hints of tiredness, fatigue, and being a bit prickly turned into days and days of wandering around with a sense of foreboding that I couldn’t shake and I didn’t know why.
It’s hard to articulate the actual feeling but it was like jetlag x 100. Imagine flying a plane when none of the instruments are working. I couldn’t focus or make decisions about small things, I was edgy, confused, unable to rest when I had the chance, worried all the time about anything and everything, distant with my husband, and unable to communicate properly with him, I was having heart palpitations, a sense of numbness and being overwhelmed and finding even the smallest and menial situations challenging to manage.
I thought I was really great at hiding it. Well.. so I thought at the time. But the worse it got, the harder it became to mask until finally, it became obvious that I wasn’t coping. And like a house of cards in a windstorm, I fell apart.
I had tried reaching out to a counsellor at one point and thought I could manage but I was just chasing my tail and falling deeper into a dark cloud that I just couldn’t shift no matter what I did or how much determination I had to fix it. When it became obvious to those around me that I wasn’t coping, I saw a GP and even then things progressed and I was hospitalised.
It brings tears to my eyes thinking of those times and how hard it was and the effects that it had on my family, my marriage, and personally. It took years to shift that dark cloud and there were a lot of consequences that played out with my kids and family that sadden me beyond words.
I wouldn’t wish for anyone to go through what I went through but I’m proof that there are ways to manage PNDA. If only I knew then what I know now.
Acknowledging the symptoms, reaching out to friends and family, and prioritising self-care can help to a certain degree but if you’re not coping….. seek help sooner than later because there is a way through and professionals that can help.