Isablog #8 – Postnatal Depression: Where I Am Now

For whatever reason, I’ve been a little reflective of my postnatal depression this week. I think it was down to the fact that I was actually on Twitter for the first time during a #PNDhour, (which is Wednesdays between 8-9pm) and I obviously got talking to a bunch of people about postnatal depression. So I thought I’d sit here and give an update on where I am now. Personally I feel like it’s important to not only hear about people’s struggle with PND, but also to hear something from those out the other side. After all, that’s what everyone wants, to be on the other side.

As usual, here’s the video of the blog, feel free to just watch this instead:

It was the reason I started this blog. Having postnatal depression without really knowing that much about it pushed me to writing about my experiences. Since I first published my story, and talked about it on YouTube, I’ve had quite a few positive responses. I hope that I’ve helped at least one other person. I know my place in the world, and I know I’m not exactly in the position to help loads of people, but if I’ve helped one then that’s something. It’s all about creating a ripple effect. That one person who you might help may in turn help someone else, and thus it can continue.

Ultimately though, and this may sound at least a little bit selfish, I’ve helped myself, and that’s the most important thing. These days I feel so much better. I’m so glad to be where I expected to be when I first saw Isabelle. How I feel now when I see her, is what I expected to feel when she was placed in my arms. I haven’t forced it, I’ve let go of the stress, the worry and the expectation of what I should feel. I always knew it would come, and for a while now, I can easily say that it has.

Here we are these days:

Selfie of us and the baby in black and white

My point here is going to be very simple. Depression is not a constant thing. I think people get bogged down in the label of depression, and people often feel that when you have depression you are just always going to be depressed. But depression is not a constant thing. No emotion ever is. And, whilst we don’t really get much say in how we feel, we can help ourselves to feel much better.

So that’s what I’ve done. It wasn’t always easy, but I worked for this. I’m not lucky that I’m out the other side, I’ve earned it and I probably deserve it. All the mornings spent playing with Isabelle when I didn’t want to, the nights bathing her and drying her when it would’ve been so much less stressful to just let Rachel do it. Taking her away, constantly using the baby carrier and abandoning the pram, reading to her and all the other things I’ve done to create and build a bond have all paid dividends.

I’m not saying that all it takes to beat depression is the desire to be free from it. There’s much more to it than that. You can try everything you can and it’ll still be there. It has a horrible way of being like that. But I know from years upon years of experience, that it all starts with wanting to be free from it. And I mean deep down really wanting to be free. You have to find the motivation to get out of the dark place you find yourself in. This isn’t just about postnatal depression, it’s about depression as a whole.

This means fixing the things that you know don’t help. I learned a long time ago that it’s all down to me. Keeping myself on a healthy, low-sugar diet, getting regular exercise, limiting technology use, finding time to mediate or just breathe in and out for ten minutes with no distractions. It’s all a game of momentum. You get it going towards feeling good, you can keep it going. Does it work all the time? Will it rid yourself of depression quickly? Of course not, this might take a long time. But it takes persistence, discipline and something worth fighting for.

I can’t say I’ll always be free of depression, I know it’ll make the odd appearance every now and then, but I know how to handle it. When it comes I just accept that it’s there and know that it will pass. It’s as simple as that. But I think I’m free of the postnatal variety of depression. I can’t imagine myself ever disliking Isabelle ever again. I’ve always said that when I’m in a bad way, the only person I care anything about is my wife, Rachel. But now, I’d easily add Isabelle into that, and that feels pretty amazing.

Update

I’m now looking back at this post from the future. It’s currently early February 2018 and I’m just writing this to say that depression comes and goes quite a lot for me. This was a post where I felt extremely good. But when my wife finished her maternity leave and I found myself caring for Isabelle a lot more, I did start to struggle again. I even had another breakdown in January. But it’s just another things that I have to work through. I understand that depression will always come and go in my life, and I’ve very much accepted that.

Thanks for reading, as usual you can keep up-to-date via Facebook.

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