How I cope with my PND

I gave birth 10 days ago to a lovely little girl. Like any newborn, she’s feeding every two hours, not sleeping through the night, cries whenever I put her down in her cot and having to change her nappies endlessly.

And with two older children to look after and a business to run, it’s enough to drive any sane woman round the bend.

To further exacerbate the situation, I am prone to post-natal depression. Because I suffered from it with the previous two children, I’ve learned to recognise the signs. It’s literally like a dark cloud approaching. When the hormones try to take over, it becomes a battle of light against dark.

With child 1, I took 16 weeks for maternity leave. Most of my friends thought I was mad. They swore by their 7 months off (or more), and said it was great spending that amount of time with baby. So when I had child 2, I took 6 months off. On both occasions I suffered from post-natal depression.

Third time round, I’ve decided to not go on maternity leave. Post-childbirth circumstances permitting. I work for myself and, with a magazine to launch in September, there’s a lot I still have to do. I would also continue with my freelance writing and consulting work.

I gave birth on a Sunday and rested that day. But the very next day, I was writing up a feature to file on Tuesday. On Wednesday, I filed a second feature.

All this was part of a little experiment I did on myself to see if working would help keep my post-natal depression at bay. And surprisingly, it did. Work kept me busy. And it took my mind off the physical pain of post-childbirth, the soreness from breastfeeding, broken sleep and that unexplained emptiness sitting in the depths of my belly. That emptiness – if I’m not careful – is the same one that would mature into the dark depression where once it engulfs me becomes very hard to shake off.

I’m not free from PND. It still is a daily tug of war and will probably continue to be so for at least six months. When I’m breastfeeding or in slightly unheeded moments, I can feel that potential darkness looming over threateningly.

Deadlines force me into a routine and give me something else to focus on. Unfortunately domesticity gives me none of the satisfaction that work does. So I’m glad for the pleasant distraction of work.

So if you ask me how to cope with PND, I would say ‘keep on working’.

I wonder if any of you mums out there have also used work to help you manage your PND. Or if you tried other methods, I’m also interested to hear about them.

 

12 Comments

  1. Good for you! I think the cleverest thing to do is find the way forward that works for you and if this is it, then you’ve done a very clever thing.

    I swerved PND, but I do suffer from depression and I have to say that actively doing things to take my mind off it when I feel a black cloud looming is by far the best way to head it off at the pass. Doesn’t always work, because depression isn’t something you choose to have or not to have, but it certainly helps keep bouts to a minimum.

    • So far it’s worked.
      The GP offered to prescribe me anti-depressants during Child 2. But when I asked how many of them continue taking them after a year, she said it was 50%. Which is such a high percentage that I turned it down. She suggested I do group therapy, which I also turned down.
      Depression is chemical, and I’m lucky that mine’s not super serious. Working, like exercise, doses me up on adrenalin and that seems to keep things pretty much under control. Weirdly, relaxing too much seems to bring on the black bouts.
      But when I’m struck down, it’s so overwhelming.

  2. Fantastic post. when I was expecting my third child (now six weeks old) my fear of getting postnatal depression actually gave me antenatal depression.

    So far I have been lucky, but I expect that having my two other daughters (one with autism) keeps me busy enough not to dwell on it. I also find getting out of the house at least once a day (even if it is the school run in the tipping rain) helps to lift my mood.

    Wishing you the best for the future.

    • I do recall getting antenatal depression due to fear of PND.
      Keeping busy is definitely key. It sounds like you have your hands more than full.
      I must remind myself to get out of the house once a day and see how that goes. Thanks for the tip!

  3. I suffered from antenatal depression, very badly during my last pregnancy (baby is 1in 2 weeks). I’m still taking my antidepressants. They are not working. Post baby high gave me a break from the AND for a couple of months, but I’m back down there now. I havnt found a way around it, ive suffered on and off with depression since I was 13 anyway.

    I dont know what will help me, but I’m glad you’ve found a way around your PND x

    • It’s an awful rut to be stuck in, and very hard to get out of.
      It’s also very hard to explain to people what you’re going through unless they’ve been through it before.
      The GP offered me group therapy when I said no to antidepressants after my second child. Have you tried group therapy? Do you think that will help?
      x

  4. I think the thing with PND is that you’ve got to work out what works for you and just go for it. And keep going for it. For me it was writing, not for publication, but for my sanity. Out of my head and onto the page. Good for you for finding your solution. More grease to your elbow Mrs! x

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