The more I talk to new mums around me and hear about their amazing, unique experiences of motherhood, the more I realise that the start of my journey was brushed with depression. I was never really 100% sure at the time but I knew that I wasn’t myself. The first few weeks of being a mum were harder than I ever imagined – struggling with sleep, giving up on breastfeeding because of the pain, desperately trying to get some sort of connection with my son who just cried most of the time. I entered the “baby blues” within the first few days and was struck with random attacks of anxiety, sobbing and feeling like I was trapped. But everyone kept telling me that it only lasts a few days and then you’ll be fine.
By the fourth week, I was still feeling like that – I was counting down the hours everyday just trying to get through. There were glimpses of light in the darkness. I enjoyed time with my friends and family and that kept me slightly sane. But the underlying feeling of hating being a new mum still lurked beneath. I kept reading the post natal depression leaflet that they handed to me at the hospital and wondering when it turned from being baby blues to depression. I kept thinking that others probably felt worse than me, so I wasn’t depressed.
Luckily for me there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I had decided only to take 6 weeks maternity leave and I was due to return to my part time job soon. The thought of this kept me going, that there might be a break in this feeling. And when I did go back I loved having a part of my old life back. I felt like me again, instead of a trapped and depressed version of myself. I still had battles to get through and many days I felt that depressed feeling creeping back in. It wasn’t until my son reached 8 months that I really started to enjoy being a mum and connected with him properly.
Being a parent is hard. Harder than you could ever imagine beforehand. Some take to it naturally and some find it more difficult. But all I ask is that you don’t hide from how you truly feel and that you find someone you can share your journey with. I had a great friend who told me “it is going to be hard for a while” – which although it was hard to hear, it was the truth. And she was always there to help me when I was desperate and needed it, but I guess she didn’t sugar coat it. I wasn’t disappointed when it carried on being hard because she had prepared me for it.
Churches always tell you to find someone to journey through life with who will be honest with you. It isn’t always that easy to find someone like this and I know I have struggled with this due to moving around quite a lot. The least we can do is to be honest with ourselves and with God. Tell yourself the truth and you can deal with it. Tell God the truth and you can face it and deal with it together. x