Im a survivor of PND. It very nearly killed me, and if iam completely honest, shamefully I must also admit if I was not helped when I was, my babies (the loves of my life and reason I fought PND so hard) may have been harmed as well. You see PND is serious. Deadly serious. Since suffering it, I recognise it in others and sadly most of the articles I read of woman harming themselves and children I can clearly see the same signs I was lucky enough that other recognised in me. I didnt just wake up one day a raving lunatic. It was a gradual process that happened over months and months that was so subtle that it was kind of hard to see. It started by anxiety which alot of new mothers have. i was worried over germs, temperature and doing the right thing. Normal stuff except it gradually took over and ruled my whole life. Then came the depression. Again it started so subtly, but kept growing and growing until it ruled my life as well. I can see now I was a perfect candidate for it. I was 30, perfectionist and had lead an amazing life of luxury as an international flight attendant,travelling the world and here I was stuck out the back of a small country town with a baby. I ticked heaps of boxes actually...surprise and traumatic pregnancy, relationship problems, sick allergy baby, feeding issues, isolation, no family avaliable to help me. Before I knew it I was in it deep and clearly not "normal". I was in a deep dark place and drowning from the overwhelming hopelessness and despair I felt, I spent hours on the Internet googling depression, anxiety and PND websites, fb support pages pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I would even google daggy inspiration quotes to read just to get through my day. I used to be outgoing but gradually cut myself off from all my family and friends as I just felt uncomfortable and unworthy. I was so angry that this had happened to me. The most shameful thing of all was the dark and distorted thoughts that would unconsciously and repeatedly enter my mind. Thoughts of how my beautiful babies and I would be better off if I took our lives as I was too **** of a parent to look after them and as there was no one else avaliable to care for them I would take them too. I shudder and weep with shame when I remember these thoughts. My sickness caused me to act in ways that hurt my family and people that wanted to help me and that made me feel more depressed and more unworthy of love or kindness. When I had enough guts I finally went to the gp and admitted honestly how bad everything had gotten. I spent 2 weeks in hospital, started medication then attended a mental health day program and gradually I got back to me which is something I never thought would ever be possible... The biggest, most important thing for me was to start being kind, forgiving and empathetic to myself. I have learnt that depression IS just an illness. It does not make someone a horrible person. It robs people of their self esteem. It distorts your thinking and mind process. I want others out there to know there is no shame in depression. It is just like any other illness, and it IS treatable. But it will change you in ways that you might not expect. You will read articles in the paper like the one about the Brisbane lady that starved her twins to death or the mother drowned her babies in the bath and jumped off a bridge and instead of feeling rage, you will feel sadness and empathy and wish you could of held that mother and her babies in your arms. Gotten that mother help and saved her babies. Evil is someone that kidnaps, rapes, tortures but you will start to recognise that these preventable deaths weren't evil, they were mental illness. Mental Illness is devastating beyond belief and has the potential untreated to cause such lethal damage and I just dont know why more isnt done to prevent it. We are all so ready to jump on the bandwagon and flame the mentally unstable mothers that harm their babies but what use does that do other then give our soapbox a workout, it doesn't bring those poor babies back. why don't we throw that passion into PND prevention and recognition and really save some lives.
To everyone that has PND or knows or suspects someone has PND... Keep fighting because the true tragedy is that it is totally treatable.