It’s no lie that I have been struggling with depression and anxiety for quite some time now. I believe in some ways I have always struggled with mental health and it’s an issue which has been passed through my family.
At the age of 17, when I gave birth to my first child Alfie, I was struck with post-natal depression very soon after. I was in a continuous battle with myself of wanting to be this amazing, perfect mother. But in reality, I was far from it. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t able to be the mother I had hoped to be for my baby boy.
Fast forward a few years, I began feeling like myself again. I believe I struggled with postnatal depression for around 2 years, before something just clicked and I began actually enjoying motherhood.
As Alfie grew, so did our relationship. We had (and still do have) this bond which was so precious and comforting, as if we were making up for lost time.
Here and there, I would feel bouts of sadness and I was fearful that I had inherited mental health issues, like depression, from my parents. But depression to me just sounded so overdramatic. I never realised I had postnatal depression with Alfie until he was around 5 years old. All them years I believed I was just a bit sad, moody and felt like I was missing out living my life as a teen.
When I fell pregnant with Holly, I had the constant fear that I would get postnatal depression again. I’d heard that if you have had it in the past, you’re at a higher chance of having it a second time round.
I was determined I wasn’t going to let it happen, I trusted my parenting, I didn’t listen to anyone else’s judgements and I made sure I looked after myself better.
Baby blues hit me when Holly was around a week old, but baby blues are very different to postnatal depression. I was confident that I was hormonal, tired and sore from breastfeeding so I was bound to feel a little upset and moody.
Months go by, and yes, as any parent I would have my down days, but nowhere near how bad they were when Alfie was a baby.
Lots of things happened in Holly’s first year of life. I began contemplating suicide, I would lock myself in the bathroom, cry and scream for hours on end and I wouldn’t eat for days.
The depression was back.
This hit me like a ton of bricks, unexpectedly and it hurt like hell. I was completely failing as a parent by being so depressed and anxious that I wouldn’t leave the house for weeks unless it was for work or the school run. I completely isolated myself.
It was this time, I was determined not to let depression and anxiety just eat me up inside, so I sought help. I was very honest when I was at my doctors appointment, telling her that I didn’t want to live anymore, that some days I didn’t want to be around my children and that all I wanted was to sleep.
She wasn’t much help, but she did prescribe me medication which at first I felt a bit defeated by; I didn’t want to have to rely on medication to make me less of an arsehole to my kids. But I was thankful that this was the first step in feeling myself again – being a better mother.
It’s now been little under a year since I sought help. And despite being hesitant to take medication, I truly believe it saved my life. I appreciate my life every day and although it’s a long road to recovery, I haven’t felt this good in a long time.
Having depression and anxiety when you’re a single parent, does not mean you have failed, or you don’t love or care for them enough. It means you’re trying your hardest, you burn out and feel trapped with nowhere to turn.
I am thankful that I had to go through that dark time to make me remember and realise just how precious life really is. Especially when I have two beautiful children looking up to me, and without them, I wouldn’t be here today.