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So what has spurred me on to finally write a few posts on my PND journey? Well, this week as many of you may be aware, Karen Simpson, a mother of 3 young children (the youngest just 3 months old) who was suffering with PND, chose to take her own life and the impact that has had on myself and many others who have or are suffering with PND has been immense. Karen went off alone telling her relatives that she was popping to Tescos to get some nappies and needed to “clear her head”. She never came back and her body was found the next day in a nearby field. This story hit the headlines on Tuesday with the sad announcement of her death on Wednesday. That news hit me like a ton of bricks. Why? It brought it all back to me. THAT feeling of wanting to “clear my head” and be alone. Many of us have been there, thinking that it’s just too much to bear, that we just can’t endure another day, hour, minute of this overwhelming situation we find ourselves in. There is that moment when you truly believe that the world including your completely dependent bundle of joy are better off without you but what makes one person decide that “yes” the world is better off without their presence in it? I’m not sure I have the answer to that question but my heartfelt condolences go out to Karen’s husband and children at this very sad and difficult time. I find it hard to imagine what they must be feeling. Something stopped me from acting out my thoughts. I knew my daughter needed me and some part of me understood that despite the utter darkness I found myself in, making it all go away in this way wouldn't make it any better.
Wednesday’s announcement uprooted deep seated emotions for me that I thought I’d dealt with, but it made me understand that when you have suffered PND it never leaves you. Its mark on you is everlasting. I never expected to suffer with it and I would say that I probably only started to feel as if I was finally coming out the other side when my eldest was almost 4 years old. That’s a long time to be depressed. I will explain more about my own personal journey in another post but my overwhelming feeling in all this is that society as a whole doesn’t understand enough about PND and how it impacts families. It is utterly crippling. It almost tore my marriage apart and I ended up being described by some family members as “difficult” and became the black sheep. This only made me feel worse because I wasn’t fully in control of how I felt. You get to a point where you know that others aren’t understanding you, you begin to shut down, you go within and you become numb. It’s true what others say, you stop crying and you just stare. I’m sure to the outside world you appear “cold” and “unfeeling” but believe me you are the most “feeling” you’ve ever been and you just can’t switch your mind off. You are anxious all the time, you suffer panic attacks, you are unsure of how people feel about you, and you question everything. You are fully aware of the fact that those around you just don’t “get it” and you are sadly walking this journey alone. And that feeling is scary. Alone is not always a great space to be in especially when you have a small baby to look after.
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The most important thing a new or existing Mum needs in my opinion when they give birth to a new baby is support. In my mind it is a key factor in helping a new Mum cope and get some balance back into her life again. Motherhood is not always what we imagine it to be. Not all of us feel that “rush of love” when we give birth particularly if we've had a traumatic birth experience. If life has been particularly stressful around the pregnancy and birth this can trigger the depression following the natural surge of hormones we get when we are pregnant and when we give birth.
It would appear that society either doesn't want to deal with the ever increasing number of women suffering from PND or it just doesn't know how. It’s my opinion that those of us who have suffered need to unite and support those who are going through it now. Support groups are a lifeline – literally. Talking to someone who’s been there is liberating, it gives you permission to “feel” again and you are finally able to breathe again immersed in the notion that you are finally understood. You finally know that you aren't going mad, you aren't alone and someone DOES understand you and what you’re going through. If a new mother mentions to her health visitor, family member or friend that she is not coping or feeling low and it’s been longer than a few weeks, then I believe that putting them in touch with a PND support group may help that person to know if it’s just the blues or something more. But all too often it is overlooked, you are told that it’s normal to feel low, you’re tired, sleep deprived, and it will pass. But not all new Mums use the term “I’m not coping” and “I cry all the time”. These are key signs that you need to step in and help that person find support.
Having family support is also crucial and it seems that the less support you have around you, the more likely you are to succumb to PND. I had very little support in addition to my husband, who bless him endured a lot during those dark times. I found people quick to judge and others didn’t even want to talk about the subject of PND. It would appear that if we brush it under the carpet, society hopes it will all go away. Well it won’t and since we are now living our lives in a way which takes us far away from supportive family and a loving community that cares for our welfare, it’s now becoming an ever growing issue.
My advice to anyone reading this post who knows they are depressed, or knows of someone who is suffering is to get in touch with a support group. Reach out and connect with someone who truly knows how you are feeling. Someone who will listen, REALLY listen to you and will do everything in their power to help you through this difficult time. And know that you do eventually come through it and out the other side. It does get easier and the dark clouds do part to reveal the sunshine that has been hiding behind them for so long. And another thing; you are never alone, ever. There is always someone who wants to help, who cares about you, who knows what you are feeling. So please reach out before you pop out to “clear your head”. It may just save your life xx
I would love you to share your thoughts/comments and your journey with PND. If anyone would like to email me then I’d love to hear from you too. Pen me a message to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be sure to reply. Take care x
I have found several PND support groups that I have connected with on Twitter and Facebook, some of which are detailed below. I have also pasted a link to a page of FB pages/groups for PND I found too. Obviously, it is very much a personal choice as to who you choose to contact, but do reach out – someone is waiting to help you x
PANDAS Foundation: Advice and support for individuals their families and carers
Tel; 0843 28 98 401
PSS PND Project – In the UK 1 in 5 women & 1 in 20 men are affected by postnatal depression. We offer face to face support in Liverpool and online support further afield.
SMILE PND Group – We're a self-help group set up to support mums with postnatal depression. New members are always welcome to drink tea and chat in a relaxed environment.
House of Light: providing support, advice and information for women and their families affected by Postnatal Depression.
Tel: 0800 043 2031
Nuturing Mums – Pregnant? New mum? Join one of our sociable & informative postnatal courses. Chat, learn & relax with your baby and other mums
PND Facebook Pages Link: https://www.facebook.com/search/results.php?q=post%20natal%20depression&init=quick&tas=0.7427815450355411