Saturday, 23 November 2013

Black Dog On My Shoulder

I've been feeling this way for quite some time: lacking energy and drive; regretting not putting more effort into friendships, new and old, but not able to do anything about it; crying; non-existent libido (why does that feel like the hardest one to admit?); angry; generally not enjoying maternity leave anything like as much as last time. I talked to Father Badger about it a few times, but we agreed that it must be down to the pitiful amount of sleep I was getting - Badger Cub has always woken multiple times a night, and at eight months I could count on my fingers the times I'd had a block of four hours sleep. The FBI would probably stop short of this level of sleep deprivation.

Then three weeks ago a switch flipped and Badger Cub started sleeping. Not reliably all night, but most nights (with a few notable exceptions) he has slept eight or nine hours with one waking, and a couple of times with none. The problem is that I didn't start feeling any better. In fact I probably felt worse as I had the mental capacity to start thinking about the emotions.

I met up with a friend and her six month old baby for lunch and coffee. We chatted about many things, mostly baby related, and then she told me about her postnatal depression and how the antidepressants and counselling were helping her. I didn't realise it, but she had obviously spotted something she could identify with in the way I was talking. By the end of the afternoon I had opened up to her, shed a few tears and agreed that I probably ought to find some help rather than continue to try and deal with it myself.

I know there is no shame in depression. When my friend opened up my immediate thought was her strength in telling me. I still struggled to accept it as my situation though - I've always been the strong one, thick skinned, bulletproof. I must remind myself that I don't have to be strong; that my children deserve to have the whole of me.

It took another week for me to gather courage to talk to Father Badger and use the label - postnatal depression - so difficult. He agreed, was amazingly supportive and the following day I went to my GP. To be honest it's been a bit of an anticlimax. I told the GP that I wasn't comfortable with taking antidepressants and she referred me to Talking Space, the Oxfordshire NHS mental health service. I've been booked onto an initial telephone assessment next Friday - TEN DAYS after calling them. The average wait time for the first talking therapy session is four weeks. That takes me to the start of January, just one week before I return to work, full time.

It took a lot for me to go to my GP. A lot. I laid myself bare. I feel as though the NHS has calmly nodded, confirmed that I'm not about to top myself or put my children in danger, then cast me to the bottom of the pile.

I would rant, but I've run out of words and energy.

Image courtesy of Felixco, Inc /


  1. I wanted to send you lots of love - so brave to take the first step to trying to drag yourself out of the abyss by admitting that things are not as they should be

    I found that it wasn't the early days but the prospect of a return to work that pushed me into the black hole so much much sympathy with that looming too ontop of everything

  2. Thank you - it's reassuring to know that I'm not the only one to feel like this so long after pregnancy.

  3. I have only just seen this and I am so sorry to not have seen it before. I am not sure I had PND, but I was suffering from serious anxiety and only really improved after getting some help. How are things going ... noticed you have been v quiet this year on Twitter and on here xx


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