Today is a bad day. My post natal depression cloud has lingered and I can’t shake the awful feeling it leaves inside me. My head aches, my body is heavy and my eyes are burning. I am irritable and feel detached, lost, isolated and anxious.
I don’t want to go to bloody baby group.
I enjoyed it last Tuesday but today is a bad day. I don’t want to go. I haven’t slept at all because my 8 month old baby just must be allergic to keeping her eyes closed during the night time for longer than 2 hours at a time. At 3.38am she decided to have a screaming fit and at 5.24am I was so delirious I ended up breastfeeding her at the end of my other daughter’s bed because I was so dizzy I actually bounced off the doorframe from our bedroom when I went to go to see to her, the floors felt wonky like my house was being tipped on its side. My world still feels like this.
In the light of day when ‘morning’ arrives and everyone gets up for school I just know it is going to be a bad day. I feel my stomach churning and getting all tight and knotted. I feel the anger and emptiness all at once rush at me, bubbling up to my throat then ebb away, disappearing for a few moments of which I have clarity and pour my 5 year old a bowl of cereal. Again the numbness creeps in and Jenny looks at me and asks if I’m ok. I am not. I wonder what I did to make her ask, I feel all panicked and paranoid that I may be giving the PND game away to my little princess. “Mummy’s fine” I smile, and respond automatically, I don’t actually recall my brain requesting my mouth move and those words come out. The anger bubbles.
Jenny skips off to school with her daddy, it’s 9am and I am not dressed, neither is Emily. The house is a mess and the sheer magnitude of what I have to do before I leave for baby group (in 15 minutes) is overwhelming. In my mind I’m imagining each chore stacking one of top of each other until there is so many that they all come crashing down on me and in that moment I crumble. Rabbit in the headlights. My brain is screaming at me to pull myself together, make a list. 1. Make husband lunch to take to work. Ok I can do this. Muddle through. TWENTY minutes later I have prepared him a lunch. 2. Change Emily. 3. Get dressed. 4. Hang washing up. 5. Brush hair, teeth, put make up on, deodorant, perfume, pack changing bag, put Emily in the pram.
By 10am I am almost ready to leave, I tell my husband I don’t want to go. He says it is good for me to go and I should go if only for an hour. Really he means that it gets me out of the house and Emily gets to play with new toys, it pushes me out of my comfort zone and doesn’t let my anxiety get the better of me.
I know all of this yet I still drag my heels even walking there. I get to the community centre and contemplate just sitting outside for an hour on the bench. I have a full blown argument in my head saying: ‘technically’ you made it to baby group, you were at the building so if anyone asks I was actually there, then my paranoia hits ‘what if one of the mums asks where you were? What if they are watching you out of the window now? What do you look like standing there like a lemon?!’ I go inside.
It’s not too bad, I drink coffee, talk to other sleep deprived mums about how bloody awful this whole being-a-mum thing is but laugh it off so people just think I’m funny rather than bat shit crazy.
I can’t move for the rest of the day, I am exhausted, tired from the lack of sleep but also from the constant headache, the ringing in my ears, the numbness, the being surrounded by people but feeling so lonely – isolation, and also from the pretending for an hour to other mums that I am a funny, breezy type of mum who has her shit together. I honestly don’t even know how I got to the school to pick Jenny up, or how Emily stayed happy and fed/changed in those few hours.
Dinner somehow magically got made, the children were magically bathed and in their pj’s and the the hubby walks in. He spends a while putting them to bed for me. I finally allow myself to really crumble.
I’m sat on the sofa, jaw clenched, eyes darting across the same square patch of wall, stuck in the same uncomfortable hunched-over seated position as it somehow strangely feels safe, if I move slightly I quickly recoil back to my original position.
My eyes relax a little and start to stare at one patch of wall and glaze over. I am tired, my eyes are burning, I don’t actually know how I am functioning. He comes back downstairs to sit with me, he tells me he doesn’t want me taking the ‘easy way out’ by starting on the medication my doctor prescribed me a few months ago, he knows I, today more than most, want to take them. I want to feel normal. I don’t see it as being a ‘quick fix’ I am insulted. I don’t feel like he understands me at all.
I also feel failed by the NHS, my counsellor openly admitted she has absolutely no idea what to do with me, she and none of her colleagues at ridge lea hospital have any idea about PND and now our 8 sessions are up I have been signed off her little list and now referred to a group workshop for stress and anxiety starting in NOVEMBER. I have been forgotten about. I have no help. No support. Nothing. Just the medication everyone – apart from my husband – thinks I should take. My husband goes out to a triathlon swim training session at the gym. I stay on the sofa for a while, in the same hunched position.
I decide to get up, actually, only the fact my feet are cold makes me get up. I head towards the shower, strip and stand under the hot flow of water. I’m most content when I’m facing the shower with my head and face fully under the cascading water. I stand there not washing myself, not examining my wobbly bits, not thinking of a list of jobs to do, not wondering if things are ok downstairs, making mental notes of where school uniforms are and what to do for dinner tomorrow night, all of these things rush through my mind in a usual shower. No, today is a bad day, this shower is full of nothingness yet the silence and water noise is deafening. I stand under the shower, now moved to my shoulder, singing/muttering/humming the chorus of ‘I caught mommy kissin’ Santa Claus’ on repeat for probably 15 minutes or so. It is September.
Today has been a bad day.