I posted recently about finally stepping into the GP’s office and walking away with a label around my neck. Post Natal Depression. It hasn’t sat well. It’s off centre, like a pendant too heavy on a delicate chain. Swinging, useless, lopsided and ugly. The wrong label. A little bit off. I couldn’t really explain it, but my heart was saying no. And then I remembered that I’d been there before. In the early days after my son was born, and they told me I had PND and I argued, and they told me over and over again that I was wrong. Back then I stuck to my guns, and those around me who knew me best agreed. Not depression, something else. Something far too complicated to deal with maybe. And so this time, too, the label doesn’t quite fit, and I’m not the only one to believe it.
With my first Think Positive counselling session behind me, I am more assured and more confident that I have not lost all sight of myself. I don’t know why a professional opinion on the state of my mental health means more than my own, but it does. We’re in agreement: post natal depression doesn’t sit right because it’s not right. I’m not depressed. I’m not.
Post Natal Anxiety is my label now, and its of no great surprise at all. And so I am learning to talk about the things that make me anxious, and the reasons why they do. The hope is that I learn to deal with them in a different way, and re-learn how to think positively and with a clearer, more rational response.
I am at the beginning.
I cannot see the end of this tunnel.
No light, not yet.
I can see how it started.
A burst tyre has led to panic attacks behind the wheel. A thumping heart an hour before I need to drive somewhere unfamiliar. An unrelenting and irrational distrust of maps, satnavs and directions. A complicated belief that I will get lost, and that is suddenly the worse thing that could happen.
A lost hour in my son’s life has led to the belief that I will never ever be a good enough parent to my children. Small moments in every day life become huge obstacles, pinnacles of their childhood that will destroy their self confidence, self esteem and self belief. Responsibilities I have that will damage them for good. Choices I make are always wrong, and will lead them to resent me, loathe me, run from me. I worry constantly that I am destroying their childhood. I worry that they will never forgive me. I worry.
And it’s this worry that leads me to lie awake at night, heart pounding and mouth dry. Limbs shaking. Mind racing. Sleep the ever elusive prize that does not appear. Small tasks weigh heavy in my mind and force me to believe they are unattainable. I cannot do the things that I set out for myself in the cold light of day. Each morning begins with dread. A cold, heavy sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
And I am sick. So sick and so tired of living this way. I am so done with feeling that I have wasted each day. Missed opportunities and spoiled my chances to live. Constantly afraid that I am destroying everything around me.
And this is the reality of Post Natal Anxiety for me. I am to blame for Elsie’s health issues. I am to blame when my son cries. I am to blame when my daughter struggles to form her words properly. I am to blame for every wrong turn and mistake and bad choice in our lives. I am to blame for not fighting harder, pushing harder, trying harder. I am to blame and if that is so, I need to accept it. I need to move on from it. I need to learn from it. I need to control it.
I only have five more sessions with this counsellor, and I don’t know if that will be enough. I don’t know if she will refer me on for CBT. I am meeting with the supervisor of midwives at my son’s hospital to read through my birth notes, and again I do not know what this will bring. I do know that it is time. Time to talk.