So many mums suffer with PND and one shares her story here...
"I was delighted to be pregnant a third time, and thought that this time round I’d finally get it right. I was feeling confident that I had the baby thing sussed. I was elated after Jamie was born, and 12 hours later I was at home, with friends and family popping in, completely in love with my beautiful boy and feeling relaxed and happy.
"Then one night a few weeks later, I was drifting off to sleep when my baby cried out from his moses basket. I woke with a start, my heart pounding. After that, I just couldn’t sleep, and the pounding feeling of my heart didn’t go away. Nights went by where I only slept for a couple of hours of sleep, and I’d lie awake with thoughts whirring around my head.
"The fear that I might develop PND made the anxiety worse. How could I be ill, when I had three little boys who depended on me? I felt I had to pull myself together, and get on with being a strong, capable wife and mother. So I’d think through the problem, come up with a plan, then go back to the beginning again. The same thoughts, over and over, like a broken record.
"During the day I’d keep busy, but as the evenings wore on, I’d become more and more panicky, with butterflies in my tummy and a tingling in my body, dreading the sleeplessness and the terror of the night. Some days were fine, and I’d convince myself I was doing ok. But the constant anxiety wore away at me, until after a few weeks I couldn’t function.
"One day we went to our son’s preschool sports day. I sat in the sunshine, with my baby dozing on my lap and my toddler running around, surrounded by friends, and I felt filled with a nameless terror. That night, I couldn’t sleep, and woke my husband, rambling incoherently about my fears. That someone was trying to get into our house. That I was crazy, and people would come and take my children away. That he didn’t love me anymore, and would leave me. There was a buzzing in my head, and I couldn’t block out the sound of my horrible thoughts.
"I told him I wanted to die, but what I really wanted was just to sleep for a long, long time, to have some peace.
"The next morning, Alex called a family friend who’s a GP. I heard him tell her that I was paranoid, and suicidal. That’s me he’s talking about, I thought. How could this have happened? Where is my lovely life, my happy family? How have I been reduced to this sobbing, shaking person lying on a bed, unable to speak? The friend came round, and persuaded me to take a sedative. The buzzing in my head faded, but I still couldn’t eat, and kept crying.
"The next morning, Alex took me to the GP, and told her what had been happening. I couldn’t say it myself – I could hardly talk. I was prescribed antidepressants, and started taking them straight away. For the first few days, I still felt wobbly and frightened, and couldn’t bear to be alone, so my parents and sister took it in turns to come and sit with me.
"Soon I started to sleep better, and within a couple of weeks the fog in my head began to clear, and the constant butterflies in my stomach started to ease. A month later, I felt well enough to go on holiday. Once again, I sat in the sunshine, surrounded by my family, and this time, there was no terror. I looked around me, and knew that I’d got it all back: my lovely life, my happy family.
"Since then, I haven’t looked back. I still have hard days, but the kind any mother of three small children experiences. Now I wonder why it took me so long to get help. If I hadn’t let things get so bad, I could have escaped those terrible weeks. But in some ways, I’m glad it did get that bad, because otherwise I might just have struggled on, trying to pretend everything was ok, thinking I was struggling because I just wasn’t a very good mum. When I look back, I know that the day I was at my very lowest was also the day that I started to get my life back, because that was the day I got help."
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