You’ve probably heard about Postnatal Depression or Postnatal Illness, either from a health professional, the media or through friends. What happens when you don’t fit into the tick boxes that describe pnd.
If it’s not postnatal depression then what is it?
You may search for symptoms online and discover that you don’t fit the description of ‘postnatal depression’, perhaps you don’t actually feel ‘depressed’ but you know you don’t feel 100%. This can compound your feelings of ‘I am not normal’ because I do not tick these boxes or can leave mums feeling “I shouldn’t get help because I’m not ill enough”.
So you struggle on and start believing how you are feeling is uncommon, unusual or that you’re a bad mother OR a big question ‘what on earth is wrong with me if I don’t have pnd?’
Feeling depressed isn’t the only symptom of postnatal illness
- You might feel anxious and/ or panicky.
- You might be having obsessive thoughts or behaviours.
- Feeling sad/ traumatised about the birth.
- Becoming irritated with everything/one and having an ongoing anger with no clear cause.
- Feeling worthless and like you don’t know what your baby wants.
- You may be missing your old life and overwhelmed with the responsibility of being a mother.
- You may have lost your confidence in yourself in your new role as mother or feel numb and sad.
These are just examples; we are all unique and how our feelings present themselves can be unique too.
There is a whole spectrum of postnatal illness with a whole lot of symptoms so don’t be confused by the ‘depression’ tick box, you may not be feeling depressed.
Your feelings might come and go, and you may not feel low every day, all day, but there may be what we call a ‘low grade’ feeling of unhappiness. Some women find it helpful to receive a diagnosis of pnd but many do not seek it or feel they want it.
Am I ill enough to seek help?
Often there is uncertainty from women about whether they ‘ill enough’ to seek help. You don’t have to put a title on your feelings, have a diagnosis or feel you need to fit into all the tick boxes. Your feelings are valid and real.
It is important that however you describe what you’re feeling, if you are feeling a little bit low or not quite right, especially for an extended period of time then seeking help and support is a good thing.
It is important you know it is not your fault you feel this way and it certainly doesn’t make you a bad mother. There is help and treatment you can receive just like any other illness.
Some mothers feel scared, embarrassed or confused about how to, and whether to seek help and it can take a lot of courage, it is the first step to feeling better.
Seek help early
Don’t wait until you’re at crisis point – if you feel like you need to talk to someone – however small the feelings are – postnatal illness/depression/baby blues is not something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Reach out for some support.
Perhaps you don’t know who best to talk to about your feelings or you’re nervous about their reaction, then pick up the phone or drop us a message, you can have a free 15minute chat to discuss your situation and we can either book you in for some further conversations with Emma our Mother’s Mentor or we will signpost someone more appropriate to your situation.
Drop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook message or text/phone Emma 07724984854.
Please note: If your feelings are severe then it is advisable to phone your GP, HV or a charity like Bluebell (office hours 0117 922 0746 ) or Mothers for Mothers (Mon- Fri 10am – 9pm. 0117 935 9366) who have trained help on hand and access to counsellors.
If you feel you are at crisis point or are feeling suicidal then phone 999 or Samaritans on 116 123 24hrs.