Seeing the light at the end of PND
As it’s Mental Health Awareness Week I thought it would be great to write a post about my own battle with mental health.
When I found out I was expecting, I was shocked, my whole world turned upside down. At the time I was working 7am until 7pm, including Sunday’s as a secondary school teacher in an South East, London. I had no time to cook nutritious meals, no time to exercise and certainly no time to relax. To put my work life balance into context we didn’t own a television, our sofa was covered in books and our dining table covered in marking. I was either marking at the dining table or I was in bed.
As you can imagine I quickly plummeted into pre-natal depression. I went to the doctors after breaking down as soon as the bell went one Friday afternoon. I was around 9 weeks pregnant. My doctor was lovely, she grew up in Penarth so we had an instant connection. I explained to her how I was feeling and she asked me to return every Friday to see her. I was very fortunate to have within my department an incredible NQT co-ordinator who supported me, a fellow Mum member of staff who kept me well stocked in caffeine free Diet Coke and I worked in an all girls school. I remember being 32 weeks pregnant and desperate for the toilet, I was walking funny around the classroom and my year 7 class said to me ‘miss just run to the toilet, we promise we will be so quiet, we can see you need to go.’ I didn’t leave them unattended, but little acts of kindness can bring light to your inner battles.
When I finished up work I returned home to my mum for my final few weeks of pregnancy. The thought of going into labour alone in London with my other half an hours drive away (without London traffic) petrified me.
We moved back to London before the start of the new academic year. Going from home comforts to a new flat with a newborn and a partner working 6 days a week was unsettling. I forced myself through it, I got dressed up, slapped on my red lipstick and went to every soft play I could find. I pretended that I was happy and motherhood was a breeze.
Many articles regarding PND talk about mothers neglecting their children but PND can go the other way. I was overbearing. I struggled to let anyone hold her, I controlled every feed, every sleep pattern, every nappy change. We co-slept because she had reflux and I was so afraid she would choke. I didn’t even leave her sleep in a room alone without me till she was about 12 months old. We went everywhere together. My partner signed me up to a gym and encouraged me to go as much as possible to try and help me, and I have to say it really did.
I knew I had PND but I was so afraid of going to the doctors. I would say to my partner ‘what if I go and they take her off me.’ Anyway, around three months into motherhood I was diagnosed with PND. The Dr said I should attend a group for mother’s with PND, the group was 2 bus journeys and an hour and a half trip away, I explained I couldn’t do this. It was too far and too stressful.
I decided to fight the PND myself. I went to a mums fitness class and the gym atleast three times a week. If you follow me on social media you probably already know I love the gym, it is honestly my life line.
I don’t want to go into the details about my low points were, it is too personal.
I would however say to any new Mum suffering from ‘baby blues’ or ‘PND’ or a Mum just having a down day
You can do it. You can beat this feeling and when you do you will be so proud of yourself. Just do whatever you need to do to get yourself through the day.
My top tips would be:
- Look after yourself. Even if it is just a quick bath.
- Pamper yourself, go for a manicure or have your hair dried. Little things for you can really help.
- Find an exercise that works for you. Whether it’s Yoga, Boxing, HIIT or Prams in the Park. Any exercise can really help. Trust me.
- Have a great group of friends with a whatsapp group. Whether it’s an NCT group, your schools friends, your work friends.
- Do what works for you. If the thought of a Mum and baby massage class is your idea of hell, don’t do it. Find something else to do.
- Get Netflix! And watch any film or series that makes you smile. Personally I recommend Gossip Girl and When Harry Met Sally.
- Eat well. Feed your body with nutritious goodies.
- But, don’t deprive yourself of a coffee and cake, especially when you have been up all night!
- Whether it’s on your own, with your better half, your friend, a big G&T, have time away from your baby.
Thank you for reading!