I’m not going to lie, Sunday night I had what can only be described as a little bit of a breakdown with postnatal depression.
If you read my weekly blogs, it’s fine if you don’t, then you’ll know that I had a rough week in general last week. I wasn’t in a really bad place in terms of my depression, I’ve certainly been in worse, but for whatever reason, I just didn’t feel connected with Isabelle again.
It all started on the Tuesday when I was singing Isabelle to sleep to Sam Smith’s song Too Good at Goodbyes. It was the following lyrics that just hit me:
I’m never gonna let you close to me
Even though you mean the most to me
‘Cause every time I open up, it hurts
So I’m never gonna get too close to you
Even when I mean the most to you
People can take lyrics in many different ways. But for me, all of a sudden I just felt this wave of emotion and this overwhelming feeling that I don’t want to love Isabelle. I don’t want to be close to her in case anything ever happened to her. I think that’s part of the reason I’ve struggled to form a bond with her since she was born. I’m scared. I’m scared that something will happen to her and I just won’t be able to cope. It’s far safer if I don’t love her and don’t invest all that vulnerable emotion into someone that may go away.
There’s also a part of me that keeps telling myself that I don’t deserve this. I don’t deserve to be happy. And I sure as hell don’t deserve a child. I still feel partly responsible for taking away someone else’s son (long story) so there’s no chance I deserve a child of my own. Ever since that night back in 2008, I’ve never really cared about anyone that I didn’t already care about before. Instead, not including my wife, I care about people less. I guess there’s a subconscious force that’s telling me it’s better that way.
But on that Tuesday, I just put my head against Isabelle’s sleeping face and cried. I cried and apologised that I didn’t love her like she deserved to be loved. I cried because all I want is to love her more than anything, but for some reason I just can’t. I’m trying. I’m really trying. And some days I feel like I do. But it’s almost like my brain panics when it starts to feel more love for her and just goes into shut down mode. I can’t control this, but I wish so much that I could.
There’s Not Just Isabelle In This
The thing is, it’s not just me and Isabelle in all this. I am married, and as you would expect, I have a wife.
So she has to be there through all of this. And sometimes she just wishes I would be a little more normal. I don’t blame her, I’m on her side, but however hard it is for her to hear me talk about the fact that at times I don’t feel love for Isabelle, it’s a thousand times worse for me. Even if I am biased in that remark.
Having the Breakdown
So the following days from that Tuesday we had our ups and downs. And eventually, as they always do, things got to a breaking point where it had to be talked about. So we argued. As she put it, I just wasn’t there all week. I was distant, I didn’t care, and at times, I just didn’t want to be there. Eventually, after a few words were said that I didn’t like, I can’t remember what, things got too much and I had a breakdown. I’m not afraid to admit that I cried to the point of being breathless. It was five days in the making, and when it finally arrived, it hit me with an unbearable amount of force.
But that breakdown was a good thing. The very next day I was back to normal. Back to feeling like I cared and loved Isabelle. As of this writing, I’m looking forward to being the one to look after her when Rachel returns to work. I want to be there for her, and I want to spend time with her.
Can I say that I won’t lapse back into that state where I don’t love her? No, I can’t. I know there’s a good chance that I will. I’m probably going to struggle with this for a long time. But I’m trying. The more Isabelle grows, the more my love grows too. It might be taking a heck of a lot longer than it does for most, and it may never get to a point where I want it to be, but it’s growing, and that’s all I can ask for.
Thank you for reading this. I’m not exactly sure why I wrote about this other than I often convey myself better via the written word than the spoken. I understand that this blog is a source of catharsism for me, and talking about something like this is only going to help. Talking about something like a breakdown with depression helps normalise it. I know I’m not the only person who has a breakdown from time to time. It’s ok. We don’t have to be fine every single day. But we should talk about it. Writing this has helped me, and hopefully it can help others to do the same.