When I fell pregnant with Avalon I was 24. It was a mixed bag of emotions, I was excited, happy, nervous, and worried about – and in love with – how my life would change. And I have to admit, I was a little freaked out that I would have to give up the life all my non-baby friends were living. I knew it would be a life changing experience, but I had a supportive partner and family and I figured it would all be okay. While I had heard about Post Natal Depression I doubted I would experience something so traumatic.
After giving birth to our beautiful daughter, around day 4 the ‘baby blues’ hit me. They hit me hard. They hung around for months and I pottered along thinking ‘wow, will this ever end? It must be normal’. I was terribly sleep deprived, could never muster any energy to get off the couch – let alone smile or feel happy. I felt like a bad mother. I loved my daughter so much, but I didn’t want to breastfeed, and I just wanted to be alone. I would burst out crying for no reason, and I didn’t want to be in a mother’s group, as I wasn’t enjoying this new role of motherhood. Why didn’t someone snap me out of it?
I finally cracked one day, after watching everyone around me look and seem happy. I wanted that feeling again, so I went to the doctors. I was diagnosed with post natal depression (PND) and was prescribed anti-depressants. I was relieved. I had been ‘diagnosed’ and I thought that the pills would fix everything. I certainly didn’t feel sad anymore. I didn’t have that lurking sense of emptiness and loneliness but I couldn’t feel anything anymore. I told some of my immediate family, and got mixed reactions. I guess everyone has different reactions to ‘depression’ of any kind. For me, the anti-depressants weren’t the fix long term, and I realized I wanted to feel some emotions again so I stopped taking them.
I tried talking to my partner, but he didn’t understand. I wanted to open up to my friends and family, but I thought that they wouldn’t understand either. I felt I was screaming for help but no one could hear me. We decided to move interstate when Avalon was 9 months old. Not really near anyone we knew, but my mum was an hour drive away, as was Sarah, my wonderful friend who had also had a daughter around the same time I did. Sarah was very supportive, she was funny and kind and when I finally came to the realisation that I was now a mum and my life had changed, she was there to help pull me out of my deep dark hole.