When I started writing about Post Natal Depression, I was coming out of it. I had been in the mire and fog of it for about 3 years, on and off, and I was finally starting to see colours and feel joy in my heart again on a regular basis. The reason I started writing was mostly because I was so profoundly grateful to be coming back into a settled and content headspace, but there was another reason:
When I was in the middle of it, a set of events led me to face facts and accept that I had depression. These events included sustained daily rages against my husband and children, the need to scream into a pillow on a regular basis, over things that seemed very small to other people, but had a huge gravitas to me. Another regular event was not being able to get out of bed to say goodbye to my husband in the morning, even though I needed to get up to tend to the children. But the thing is, even after I accepted my situation and sought help to resolve it, I don’t think I ever REALLY FULLY accepted it. I remember I kept whispering to inner self that things weren’t that bad, I was just having a bad day every now and then. I kept telling myself to harden up: this isn’t depression, I would say. It wasn’t as if I was suicidal or anything. Now THAT’S postnatal depression. There were other things that I clung to: I had bonded just fine with my children. You don’t love them if you have postnatal depression: you don’t feel anything for them. I had seen the movies and read the stereotypes.
What I DID accept was that I wasn’t happy, and that this wasn’t right, so I started on the stairway to wellness, taking the steps I was instructed to take, and being quite thoughtful and invested in my own journey.
It was only after I had felt well for a whole month without a bad day, a month of feeling normal and settled and not full of rage, that I finally had the full picture of how bad things had actually been. This was when the true acceptance settled in my heart. When I was better.
When you start to feel like you are coming back into the light, it makes you want to break down all over again in sadness for the path you have just walked. Because when you are well, you have a perspective that can no longer deny just how unwell you were.
One doctor put it to me in a way that really helped me to achieve a level of acceptance in order to move forward:
She drew a straight line on a piece of paper. Then she drew a line, representing my daily ups and downs, ebbing and flowing above and below this constant straight line (my happy medium).
“This is the normal ebb and flow of emotion,” she said. “Sometimes you are happy and sometimes you are sad, and that is part of life.”
Then she drew a new chart, again with the same steadfast straight line. But this time, my ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ were all happening UNDERNEATH this Happy Medium.
“At the moment, even at your happiest, you are still lower than a normal emotional pattern.”