It’s normal to have dark thoughts post birth, it doesn’t necessarily mean PND.
After my panic attack, I jumped to the conclusion I had Post Natal Depression (PND). Since visiting the GP and speaking with my counsellor, it’s become clear this is not the case.
So much is spoken about how your body will change post birth, but little time is taken to explain how it may effect your thought processes and mental state. I guess health care professionals don’t want to scaremonger.
In-between birthing videos, our NCT course leader did briefly warn us about PND, but that was it. There was no discussion about how your thoughts and outlook on life may change quite drastically and how that’s entirely normal.
Post birth, in those first couple of weeks when you’ve got everyone and their dog fretting over you, people’s radars are on the look out for PND but you’re in the trenches with a new Sprog just trying to muddle through hour by hour. You can’t quite see the wood for the trees, and your entire focus is on keeping this little being alive.
A couple of months down the line, when the dust has settled and you finally feel as though you and Sprog have nailed the day-to-day tasks. That’s when your brain can take time to process what the hell has happened.
It’s when my brain got this space to think about something other than the next nappy change that I started to dwell on just how much things had changed since we had Sprog.
The only way I can describe it is that it’s almost as if my brain has been re-wired. Things that wouldn’t have crossed my mind pre-Sprog have suddenly become all I can think about. Will a car come flying off the road and knock us down? Will my husband get to work safely? Is that little niggle at the back of my throat, cancer?
I have a new fascination with the meaning of life and how long I have left. It’s a new thought for me and one that I concentrate on a lot. It’s meant that a lot of dark thoughts have started to fester and because I’m living in a new routine, exhausted most of the time – I can’t seek solace and retreat from these thoughts at present.
My GP reassured me that it is normal. A normal reaction to the life changing event of becoming a mum.
He’s recommended I watch a mindfulness video and learn some breathing techniques to help when I’m panicky. In terms of the dark thoughts, he said these will fade in time and that exhaustion has a wicked way of playing tricks on your mind.
Having purely breastfeed Sprog, I’ve had severely unbroken sleep for 5 and a half months and I can now really understand why sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture.
So, I’ve accepted help and my first aim is to get more rest, not do as many miles of walking (I was nearing 10 miles some days with Sprog in sling for half of those) and let my neighbour take baby for just two hours a week so I can sleep, eat, have a bath, anything!