Five feels like a bit of a milestone for a first time mum like me. Mainly because it’s the age schooling starts in Scotland. Ethan turns five this week, which means he starts primary school this August. It may sound dramatic to say that I felt like I would never make it to this point, but when I was in the full grip of post-natal anxiety/depression and PTSD, the road ahead was filled wirh darkness. In fact, it often seemed like there was no road ahead at all.
I’m writing this today because I want anyone reading this who is feeling what I’ve just described to know that there is a road ahead. There is hope, there is recovery, there is learning to live and love again, finding reason to fight. Please believe me, I have been there in the darkest of places and I am now here in the world of recovery.
In my own experience, the feeling of hopelessness is one of the hardest parts of perinatal mental illness. As if experiencing the symptoms of this cruel illness is not bad enough, you are met with this crippling feeling of how bad a mum you are. I spent so much energy worrying about the affect it would have on my son. In some ways I didn’t care about the impact on myself – “take what you want from me, I give up” – if you will. The fight I felt came from a place deep within, a place that forced me to believe I somehow had to get better for my son. For his health, his future and his happiness.
…and I did it. I recovered. For him, for my partner Chris and my father who both never gave up on me when I had more than given up on myself. For my mother who had lost her own health battle and was no longer alive. For the friends and family who didnt shy away from me when I wasn’t myself anymore… for myself. A strong support network alongside a number of services who offered what I needed to recover.
So let me say this; I know what it feels like when you can’t bear to invisage a future. I know what it feels like to think you are damaging your child emotionally when you are experiencing the darkest of days. But you aren’t. I can say this as I now sit here looking in amazement at my little boy who will be five. He was around when I was the most unwell I have been in my life and he is here next to me today. He is bright, happy and full of life – unaffected by the darkness I experienced when he was a little boy and I was trying my hardest to be a mother despite being pulled in to the darkness by this cruel illness. I feel so thankful to sit here and be able to say that.
Please seek the support you need. If not for yourself, then for your little one.
We made it, baby boy! Thanks for being the reason I needed to find the fight and strength to save myself x