I am emerging from a dark period of postnatal depression that went unrecognised and thus untreated for the first 18 months of MM's little life. I was (I can now admit) still a great mum during this time. I made sure everyday that MM was loved and cared for and protected from anything that could ever hurt him. I was just not the best partner or very kind to myself.
During this time, when I wasn't being mummy, I retreated into myself and let the pain swallow me down into its dreary depths. I wasn't there for FI, I was barely there for myself. I was cruel and harsh and my biggest tormentor. FI (god bless him) was doing his best- he knew I had disappeared but didn't know how to bring me back. My illness was the elephant in the room. The great unspoken. We knew there was a problem- but neither of us spoke about it. But he stuck by me and loved me and here I am. On the otherside.
I began my awakening (that's what it felt like) when my doctor finally got through to me and convinced me to try some medication. I was anti pills, anti admitting there was something mentally wrong and convinced that my illness (which was oddly presenting as physical symptoms a lot of the time) was something systemic that could not be fixed by an anti-depressant. I was wrong.
I spent the next 15 months taking this medication. At first it was like waking from a bad dream. The relief was immeasurable. I steadily improved and began to take my life back. I went back to my 'proper' job, started connecting with people again and rebuilding my relationship. Finally 2 months ago I stopped taking the medication. I can not even believe the effects that this has had. For the last (nearly) 3 years I had been first depressed and anxious beyond belief and then for the most part numb. Numb was defintely an improvement on depressed but was so far from what I am feeling now.
I now have a sad day every now and then. I was sad after my counseling session last night. Since stopping the medication I feel sadness deeply. I have even been known to cry at the news. The emotion (which for so long has been held at bay) creeps up on me and taps me on the shoulder and then scares the sh*t out of me. I find it overwhelming. But I won't go back. Why? Because now I feel joy. Actual, proper joy. When I wake up and feel FI lying next to me, or when MM is giggling that gorgeous giggle- the joy spreads through me and warms my heart. It soothes my soul and makes me happy to be alive. I won't go back.
It has taken me until recently to want to talk about it. Any of it. The moments where I feel I can open up are rare and fleeting. So now I am embracing them. My therapist is relatively new (to me) and I still, even with him, will fill the first 40 mins of our session with inconsequential chatter until I feel the last 5 minutes closing in and then I blurt something out. Something important. Something that could possibly help me heal. So now I know I need to capture the windows of openess and make the most of them. I want to rid my living room of the elephant once and for all and make some more room for me...