How To Move On From Postnatal Depression
My first pregnancy with my daughter was a whirlwind of wonderfulness. I was full of all the hopes and joys of becoming a new mum. I was a tiny little thing and even towards the end of my pregnancy, from behind I just looked like me pre-pregnancy.
My second pregnancy was soon after, but at this point I had moved 200 miles away. The midwives weren’t allocated, and I saw a different midwife every time. It was a huge change from the wonderful relationship I’d previously built up. It wasn’t long before there were concerns about my belly being too small. Initially I was terrified. Is there something wrong?
With both pregnancies I kept a little pregnancy diary, where I popped my measurements and what was happening to my little baby inside the womb. I went straight to my first diary to see what my measurements were when I was at the same number of weeks, and found I actually measured even less first time round!
I was tasked with a daily kick chart, and two weekly growth scans, and other extra check-ups. Suddenly there was all this panic around my baby that was growing almost identically in size to my first born. I was so grateful I had such a positive experience with my first pregnancy because I could have been a complete nervous wreck if I hadn’t had the confidence that everything was going to be okay! Trust your gut and your experience.
Alas, the time came, and I did have another healthy baby once more, a boy weighing only 2oz different than my daughter. And of course, I’m forever grateful of his health. But what happened next was a big surprise to me. I started to feel down. So down. I was isolated with two young children and had moved to a place where I didn’t know anyone. My relationship wasn’t in a good place and life suddenly became unmanageable and overwhelming.
As a teenager I had suffered greatly with depression, so I knew what it was and spoke to my health visitor who took me there and then to see a GP. Antidepressants were prescribed and Postnatal Depression was the label it was given, although on reflection sometimes I wonder if it was more about what else was going on in my life, than post-pregnancy hormones.
My love for my children didn’t falter, but my love for myself, which was barely visible in the first place, became completely non-existent. To build friendships, I’d found an online chat room called Expectant Parents chat and was grateful to have made some ‘internet friends’ as I called them.
(Tania and Lora)
Lora had a due date the same as my sons, and Katies daughter’s birthday was just two days after my daughter. We grew very close even though we had never met, and my time talking to them, and others online really helped. But I would then end up feeling huge guilt for talking to them and not spending quality time with my family every second. Or cooking meals from scratch. Or having a job. You know, all the pressures that are placed on parents now to be the PERFECT EVERYTHING, when it’s absolutely impossible to be such a thing! But at that point in my life, I didn’t realise that it was impossible to be all those things.
I sunk lower and lower, not really knowing or wanting to change for a good length of time. And then one day I just thought, I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to do this anymore. And so, I got on Google and looked up ‘how to get out of depression’. I was taken in by a blog. I’d never read a blog before; they were something fairly unheard of back in the early 2000’s. But I read this American lady’s blog and decided I was going to keep trying, just as she had.
First, it was doing small things likes aiming to have the children bathed and dressed by a certain time. Then it was walking down the street to the local shop and back, even if I didn’t feel ready to enter it yet. Next, we did a trip to the local park, and I even went to a few groups with the help of my health visitor. Although the thought of going filled me with dread! And the groups weren’t a place I made friends as I was painfully shy, and many people attending were much older than me.
After a chat with my health visitor, she put me in touch with Sure Start and I got a support worker too. She helped me to create a loose schedule for meals, activities, bath times and bedtimes, and that really helped too. Just having something to follow, that wasn’t set in stone, gave me more get up and go. I began to slowly feel like I had a purpose. I had things to work towards.
I also introduced reward sticker charts and tokens and watched lots of Supernanny too! It took months, but slowly I started to feel stronger. I continued the antidepressants, but I finally plucked up the courage to follow through with a decision I’d known for a long time. That my life, and my children would be better off if it was just the three of us. It was a huge decision, and one I didn’t take lightly, but I’d finally gained enough confidence to realise my worth. To know that I deserved more, and to not fear being a single parent.
I even managed to get an 8-hour weekly job split into two shifts at a local care home, and that helped me to make friends locally too. Shortly after that, I went back to college, and then on to university where I finished with a first-class honours degree in Psychology. By which time, I was no longer on the antidepressants and had gained some wonderful friends locally.
My life had changed completely, I was so much stronger now, and it all started with reading a blog that led me to set myself small achievable goals that weren’t too much pressure on me. One hour at a time, one day at a time. Now, fifteen years later, I’m helping others do the same thing through my own blogs and online free support, and through my paid 1:1 psychotherapy and hypnotherapy in private practice.
Sometimes it can feel like you have the weight of the whole world on your shoulders and like the way out is completely impossible. That’s often because if we were to scale where we are from 0-10, we might put ourselves nearer to zero. And when we think about where we want to be, that scenario is usually nearer to 10. And it feels too far away and completely unachievable.
But what if we broke that scale down, into each point, or even into the decimal places between each point. What if tomorrow we aimed to get from a 1, to 1.1, or 1.5, or even a 2? Suddenly it feels a little bit more achievable.
Try thinking about what would be different if you moved up on that scale tomorrow just by a smudge. What might you notice was different? And how would you be able to know that something had changed?
If your answer is something like “well I wouldn’t be x, y, z”… try thinking about what you would be instead. Maybe you would notice you’d speak a little more playfully or make a coffee and find yourself humming a song you like. Maybe you would find yourself taking more deep breaths between each of the ten times it took to ask the kids to put their shoes on. It can be absolutely anything at all, but don’t choose something just because I’ve said it, choose something that is more meaningful to you.
Next, consider what difference that would make to your day. If you did that one small thing, how would it impact on the rest of your day? How could you know it had made a difference? How might you notice that version of yourself showing up more this week?
What’s happening in my life now? Well, this year I am about to get married to a man who loves and values all of us, and respects me and my own dreams for my future and our future. We began dating the year after I finished university in 2011, we got a mortgage together in 2016 and he adopted our children in 2017. Some may say we’ve done everything backwards, but I no longer spend time worrying about little things like ‘other people’s expectations!’
(Tania and Katie)
And do you remember those two ‘internet friends’ I mentioned right at the beginning. They’re two of my most-bestest friends in the world, we still speak nearly every day, despite being miles apart. They’ll even be joining us for our wedding in the Southwest of France this July! I’ve met both of them several times over the years, even holidaying with Katie and being Godmother to Lora’s’ youngest daughter…and the funny thing is, that 18 years of being friends and my wedding will be the first time they meet face to face!
This storm will pass, other storms will come, but they will pass too, and the sunshine and rainbows will return.
Tania Taylor is an international multi-award-winning Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist and Mentor. She provides 1:1 support via video link worldwide, supporting people with anxiety and related conditions such as IBS, OCD, Depression and Insomnia. Alongside this role Tania is an international lecturer at three worldwide training schools for therapists and a #1 bestselling author of multiple books. Tania is a lover of yoga and cats and lives in Milnrow, Rochdale with her wonderful fiancé and incredible two teenage children, family hobbies include escape rooms and geocaching.