real life

"Every mum has bad days. But these were my darkest of dark days."

An honest account of postnatal depression.

There is so much out there for mummas-in-waiting that it can be overwhelming to say the least.

You cannot help but fantasy role-play. Imagining what it will be like to be a mother for the first time. You envision that you will be this domestic goddess with a tidy house, clean washing folded neatly away, home cooked meals for hubby every night and Michael Bublé softly warbling in the background as you gently rock your baby to sleep as your freshly blow dried hair sweetly scents the air.

I suppose it is like that for some and I dare say, I thought that I would be a superstar parent, as well because seriously, how hard can it be? I am a 30-year old competent human being with a successful career, loving husband and a good head on my shoulders.

But unfortunately I was dead wrong.

"I thought I could handle it, but I couldn't." Image via iStock.

The real deal:

My six-week-old baby girl is screaming in her bassinet. She has been there for 10 minutes and she is getting more upset with every passing minute but yet I cannot move. I am sitting on the laundry floor sobbing into a handful of dirty clothes. It's 2pm in the afternoon, I am still in my pajamas and I haven’t washed my hair since, you know what, I cannot even remember nor do I give a shit. My baby needs me and I cannot go to her. I am afraid of what will happen if I do.

I am not sure how it happened or where it came from, but things seemed to go very fuzzy the moment my daughter was born.

People asked me while we were still in the hospital, ‘Are you just overwhelmed with love for her?’ and I didn’t know how to answer. I was unsure of the answer. Yes I felt a strange connection to her even protectiveness, but love?

We took our bundle home and my husband was more of a mother than me. He got up with her in the middle of the night. He soothed her when she cried. He played with her for hours at a time and I would watch on like a tourist staring into an enclosure at the zoo as a lioness lovingly tends to her cub.

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Once my husband went back to work, things got worse.

I cried 90% of the time and the other 10% I felt like I was just going through the motions.  There were times when I even thought about what it would be like to hurt my daughter. Those words are extremely hard to write but it's true. The thoughts made me sick yet intrigued me at the same time.

"I thought I was in control. I wasn't. Far from it actually." Image via iStock.

All the while, I thought I was in control. “Every mum has bad days.” “Its just the hormones raging through your body.” I suspected it would soon pass and that I was mentally strong enough to deal with this on my own.

Fast-forward six months and I am only now seeking help.

The dark days are fewer but they are still there. Without a doubt in my mind, I know that I love my daughter. I do. It grew fierce and strong without my knowing it. But I can admit now that I have postnatal depression and the best thing I could do for my husband, my baby girl and myself is get help.  Thankfully, I never hurt her but I know that I should have done something about it the first time the thought popped into my head.

Admitting that there was a problem was hard. Admitting it to my family and friends was harder still. You feel like a failure of catastrophic proportions and you wait for the judgment. It is heartbreaking that to this day, depression is usually not seen as a disease, but as a choice people make.

So, I write this as a way to show all mothers, struggling or not, the truth about parenting life.

It isn't always like it seems on Instagram or in magazines or in parenting books.

Be kind to yourself. You're doing your best. And get help if you need it.

Have you ever suffered from PND? How have you got through it?

If you need someone to talk to, PANDA the National Perinatal Depression Helpline has trained professionals on 1300 726 306, Monday - Friday 10 - 5pm (AEST). Or LifeLine is available 24/7 on 13 11 14.

 Want more? Try:

“My first day of freedom.”

“My wife’s depression almost ended our marriage.”