Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shove your stigma

Back in May I wrote about all the red flags on my file for post natal depression as part of the One Million Mums in May movement by PANDA for The Shake. If this weird brain of mine was in a graduating highschool class it would be voted "brain most likely to have a breakdown" so when I'd felt a little off for a few weeks during my pregnancy I made sure my midwife knew and I went and spoke to a counsellor to have a plan in place should I need it.

I copped a bit of flack for that article. I was told that "some people" thought I was speaking about things that should remain private. Funnily, those "some people" wouldn't say this to my face and got others to do the dirty work for them.

If it is taboo to talk about the possibility of needing help for mental illness and creating a preventative mental health plan, then what hope do those who do need help have? How much longer will it carry such shame that there are those that would warn you off talking about it?

These last few weeks, those thoughts have been racing through my head. Do I appease the "some", keep my mouth shut and feel like a fake, or, do I just put it out there, knowing that there are others who can relate. Others who may have been in the same boat and can offer a word of support; others who are there now, and need that little push to ask for help.

So I'll say it. I have post natal depression. There. Did it.

This isn't the most appropriate way to let my family know, but I just couldn't find the words to say it to them face to face. How do I even start that conversation when on the outside everything looks so fine? Oh hey, this slice is delicious, you must give me the recipe, and by the way I'm looking in to inpatient treatment for my mental illness.

So I'll sit behind my computer screen, safe behind the keyboard that lets me say these things and not have to see your face. Or let you see mine. Because mine is tear streaked and seems to have more wrinkles on it than ever before. I look old. I feel old.

I've been struggling. Really struggling. There is a lot going on in my life right now and I suppose I'm a bit stupid for taking so much on, but there isn't much I can do about it now.

A few weeks ago it became glaringly obvious this was more than just a temporary low mood.

Because crying for hours after the kids are in bed because you think your latest blog post was a bit shit isn't normal.

Because not being able to turn your brain off until 1am and then waking at 4am is not normal.

Because breaking down in to tears and becoming mute when someone asks you to make a simple decision (what you want for lunch?) and you just don't know isn't normal.

Because standing in front of the fridge and eating two blocks of chocolate without taking a breath isn't normal.

Because falling to the floor in a sobbing heap when you have a bad day care drop off isn't normal.

Because shaking like a leaf and crying at a loud noise isn't normal.

My nerves are shattered. I feel like I have ants under my skin. The pressure is building and I can't seem to find that release valve. So I called for help. And I'm getting it.

Having worked tirelessly to get off medication, I find myself a little disappointed to be back on it after all these years and find it hard to admit that I'm not as strong as I thought I was. And I'm so sad that it means I can no longer donate my milk to the prems.

But here I am, medicated and back in therapy. It is helping me sleep, which is good because I'm just so tired. The lethargy goes right the way through to my bones. Map Guy has been given carers leave so that I can just chill out for a week to try and keep from needing inpatient treatment.

I've been trying to keep going out, seeing friends, doing normal things. All the things that I really don't want to do but I know I should. And I'm so lucky to have friends that could tell something was up and have been checking in on me. 

So that is that. I'm sure I should be feeling empowered, but I don't. All I want to do is just go to bed and snuggle with my family. To feel MG's arms around me and tell me it will be OK, to hear Tricky talk about cars and tell me a fart joke, see Bobbin smile and hear her giggle when I kiss her scrummy neck. Those three people are my lifeline and stopping me from going over the edge. For them, and for me, I will stand up and ask for help.

And I flat out refuse to believe that talking about this is shameful.

Shove your stigma.

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