Sounds strange but I think it might have. I was perfectly happy before postnatal depression struck. In fact the year leading up to my daughters birth was the happiest of my life. I had my dream wedding, a job I loved, we had moved into a new home and had the joy of being pregnant with our 1st child. My dreams were coming true.
Then in a flash my bright sunny life had clouded over and was dark, grey and colourless. I felt like a terrible mum, I didn’t recognise myself anymore and eventually I ended up feeling as though my family would be better off if I was no longer around. In three years I had three babies, and although I felt fleeting moments of joy with them, mostly I felt miserable and hopeless. PND had stolen my most longed for and precious moments.
Recovery was a slow, difficult process, but I did it. I have achieved things which I never felt I could during my darkest moments. At my worst I was unable to leave the house without having a panic attack, and so I would just stay at home. I avoided any situation which meant I would need to leave my house. Now, after practicing the CBT techniques my local Perinatal Emotional Wellbeing Service taught me, I am out and about doing things regularly and panic attacks are much rarer -I don’t know if I will ever be totally rid of them but I feel confident in my ability to control them when I feel one coming.
Now I’m recovering I can see how postnatal depression has improved me. I am a much stronger person than I thought I was – I’ve been through the most awful couple of years but I made it through. I carried on when I felt I had nothing left in me. I’ve conquered fears, looked anxiety in the eye and carried on going forward. It’s taken practice and patience, but I Did It. Postnatal depression stole my confidence, now I’m taking it back, and each step forward I take I recover a bit more.
Postnatal Depression has made me more compassionate too. Before I suffered I had little knowledge on Mental Health. Now I’m part of a club I never wanted to join, But I’ve gained experience and knowledge in a mental health illness, I’ve recovered and putting that to good use. I want to support others going through similar experiences, I can relate to the issues they face and help, I can offer hope that recovery is possible. The more stories I hear and more I learn about mental health the more passionate I am to help others.
I said I would never be the old me again and I was right. Now I’m new & improved, I am gaining my old qualities that I lost, and a whole lot more which will enable me to help others who are now in the position I once was. I’m stronger, have a new understanding on mental health, and I can look out for signs with those around me. Postnatal depression may have tried to defeat me but I’m a fighter and this wasn’t a battle I was prepared to lose.