Postnatal depression (PND) – the story of my life for the last twelve months.
Not because I have it.
But because I have been writing a thesis on it. I have been investigating PND’s relationship with perfectionism and mothers’ perceptions of control.
I have read countless journal articles, deciphered a ‘significant’ amount of stats, and have come to the realisation that I still don’t really understand PND.
Sure, I get its diagnosis: A mood disorder characterised by its peripartum onset that can be diagnosed in the late stages of pregnancy up to four weeks postpartum.
I understand its prevalence: 1 in 7 women have it and 100, 000 women were diagnosed with it in 2013 (PANDA, 2013).
I understand its risk factors: a history of depression, neurotic and introverted personality traits, a perceived lack of social support, limited coping skills, unrealistic expectations of birth and parenting, a traumatic child birth, and perceived societal expectations.
I grasp its symptomology: pervasive low mood, poor appetite, lack of sleep, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, feelings of guilt, impaired concentration, loss of confidence and low self-esteem.
And I know its treatments: group or individual counselling, relaxation, medications, to name a few.
But I have no comprehension of what it is truly like to have PND.
I’ve certainly felt hopeless at times, I’ve had sleep deprivation, and I’ve definitely had the ‘mummy guilt’, but these symptoms went away. PND is not like the baby blues, where symptoms pass within two weeks postpartum. PND symptoms are pervasive.
So, no, I don’t understand what it is like not being able to connect with my baby for months on end.
No, I don’t understand what it is like to cry all the time because I am not the mother I thought I was going to be.
And, no I don’t understand what it is like to constantly feeling anxious and worried about whether I am okay, whether my baby is okay, and whether society thinks I am okay.
Although I can empathise, I cannot really understand what PND is like unless I have experienced it myself.
But I know it must be hard. Unimaginably hard given the amount of pressure, perceived or otherwise, mothers are under.
So, this is why I am joining the campaign to promote awareness of PND during PND Awareness Week. Because even though I know quite a lot about it, I still cannot imagine how hard it is.
You can join the campaign too. All you have to do is post on Facebook or Instagram a black and white photo of yourself with the hash tag #bePNDaware and promote conversation about PND with others.
Please share your experiences with PND. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.