I’ve written about this period of my life before – on Huffington Post – but I felt I should revisit it.
I have helped friends through periods of depression and I never thought it would happen to me. Even though I never judged those friends and I always supported them through the tough times, I thought I was too STRONG to get depression.
My period of depression lasted about six months. It could have been shorter if I had stopped burying my head in the sand and got help sooner, but I was too stubborn and thought I had to ‘suffer’. Mainly because the idea that I had depression never even crossed my mind and because things like that don’t happen to me.
How wrong I was.
When my second daughter was born, it was a chaotic time. My first was still only 18 months and only just learnt to walk. Phil was busy working all hours to support us and so I handled all the child care.
My newborn from the start was a challenge – very difficult to settle and didn’t sleep at all well. Her not sleeping obviously meant me not sleeping. This went on for a LONG time. Almost a year. When I say she didn’t sleep, I mean she would wake on average six or seven times a night, and be awake between half an hour and two hours – sometimes longer.
I can’t actually remember much of the latter stages of this period, mainly because I was so sleep deprived. I had completely lost a sense of who I was, and it was almost like an out of body experience. I felt completely detached from my kids and I had polarised emotions. Somedays I felt nothing and I’d behave like a robot, other days I was at my wits end in tears.
There were several moments where I just wanted to run away from it all. I think this is so sad, looking back on it, because those early days should have been lovely and I do think it has scarred me emotionally in some way. I don’t feel like a ‘natural’ mother and often wonder how my kids have turned out so well.
I don’t know what the turning point was. Maybe it was reading about sleep deprivation and how that affects the receptors in your brain to be desensitised to serotonin (the happy hormone). Or maybe it got to that point that I knew something had to change or I would not only lose the plot, but potentially do something that I normally wouldn’t consider.
It was so hard going to the doctors and admitting I couldn’t cope. I felt so ashamed. And yet now, I know it was the best thing I did. I was prescribed a three month course of anti-depressants but it took me all the courage in the world to start taking them.
I really can’t believe how hard I made it for myself. To actually surrender and just take them. I tortured myself unnecessarily. It took me three days before I started taking them.
I think it took about a week for me to see the results. It wasn’t completely obvious but I just started feeling more like my normal self. I was still severely sleep deprived, but it felt like I was back – that the kryptonite had been removed and I was my feeling stronger, more powerful and in control once again.
The anti-depressants paused the symptoms of the sleep deprivation just long enough for me to get my head above water and start implementing some sleep techniques with my little one. Once she started sleeping better, the natural restorative nature of sleep helped me move through my depression and out the other end.
She still woke in the night, but I was finally able to grab 4 or more hours sleep in a row to allow me to feel more vibrant and have more energy.
This period of my life was a dark time. It had a huge impact on my health, but also my relationship with Phil. We got through it in the end, but it’s like a blurry moment in my life where I lost myself completely. This may sound melodramatic but it’s how I feel.
Writing this story again, brings up all kinds of emotions for me – especially when I said that I feel it’s left a scar. I never thought about it like that before but I’ve only just realised it’s there. I’m still holding onto it and I know I should release it.
I don’t write this as a message to anyone – that was not the intention of this post. In the original story I wrote I did say about how we seem to resist things in life, that we seem to allow ourselves to suffer unnecessarily.
I don’t know why we do this as humans. I’d love to know your thoughts.