Perinatal Depression and Self Harm: A Carrying Consultant’s Story

This is the post excerpt.

Most days I just feel like curling up and going back to bed for two weeks or admitting myself into a mental hospital for some rest bite.  I am so so tired all the time.  I have so little patience at the moment, unlike my normal patience of a saint.

My partner tells me to share more with him, but I explain that I am so used to putting a massive smile on my face and carrying on, just as our Great British resolve has taught me to do.  So, it comes out when I’m least expecting it and normally during an exchange with my little toddlers or husband…tears, tantrums and throwing toys and and that’s just me and my partner!

I have suffered from severe depression on and off since 2005 but probably actually since I was 15 when I began pulling my hair out (trichotilamania) during my GCSEs. I had a massive breakdown in 2005 whilst teaching mostly year 7s and 8s Science at Middle school and was deemed unfit to teach for seven months following this.  I have never managed to go back into the classroom, even after years of CBT and psychotherapy.  Then having antenatal depression with my first child five years ago, It came again before and fairly severely post, having my second little one, my little boy.  He could really have suffered.

I have started this blog so many times. Not knowing where to start and then thinking it all sounds rubbish and self indulgent. But I think it may help others if I share these thoughts, albeit painful.

Most days, I struggle to turn over when my babies wake me in the morning, somewhere between 5 and 7am every morning. I love them so much that my heart aches just thinking of them. Everything in my life pails into insignificance when I think of my children. But, I am on the cusp of something. I may turn myself over to the mental health team, after 5 years of struggling with perinatal depression. I find myself now at the point when I am self harming so badly and although I adore my babies, the most precious thing in my life, last night I lost it. I started throwing implements around the dining room like a crazed person, shouting at my babies and telling them I had had enough. This has never happened before. My little son who is three in three months and my daughter who is five at Christmas, in just a months time. They were sobbing their hearts out as mama was giving up last night. Everything I do I do it for my babies…

I fell into running a sling library About as I was helping a friend to set up a community group interested in slings. There were about 8 of us interested in helping this cause.  Then one by one, everyone else fell by the wayside and I was the only person left. I was only supposed to be stepping in when my friend was taken unwell with PND. I had already warned that my own PND was affecting my usefulness.

When I found out that we had been given a grant in October 2015, we were waiting to hear if my father in law was going to be kept in hospital (with dementia and liver cancer) after attacking my elderly manic depressive mother in law.  I had a decision as to whether to start it up on my own, or to refuse the funding that we had worked so hard to get! I decided to give it a go alone.

Two years on, and I’m a trained Child Carrying Consultant Contact and a member of the gorgeously inclusive International Babywearing community.

So this morning I have had a visit from two very nice male psychiatric nurses who were going to assess my state of mind and whether I am ok to be at home I think! I was terrified before they arrived for fear of what they were going to say. The plan is for me to change medication and to get some more counselling and marital help with Relate, through their website as they’re supposed to be brilliant! They weren’t so very scary but we’re here to help make a decent plan!

Now, Its a week on and my husband has given me a whole week’s rest from my normal duties, so I’m definitely feeling more rested and less likely to break something or myself.  I also am really thankful that he has let me catch up on sleep.  But as my medication is in the process of being changed, it feels a bit scary and I feel a bit manic, to be honest.  Neil certainly would say that I’m behaving somewhat manic.  If I forget to take my anti anxiety pills, he really can’t copy with my mania, or ‘doing twenty things at once’ and ‘flitting’ from idea to idea.   He just can’t cope with me at the moment.  I am just hoping that when the meds sort themselves out, my normal behaviour is resumed, for everyone’s sake.  Even my faithful friends think I am completely loopy!  Is it manic or is it really who I am?

On the up side, my four year old daughter has got Star of the Week, presumably because she has been throwing herself into her school studies during this period of stormy waters.

I pull my eyelashes and eyebrows out, how strange is that?   It is a form of self-harm and I covered the topic as part of my thesis at uni.  I am so ashamed of this behaviour but, because it has been going on for 30 years, it really is pretty ingrained now and so, very difficult to stop.  It is far more common than you realise though and having come across the occasional semi-permanent makeup artist over the years, something that the majority of people try to hide, so we really don’t know how widespread the behaviour actually is.

I also have thought about ending my life, albeit briefly.   During my most darkest moments, I may contemplate driving the car into the middle of the road or into a wall.  I have also thought about jumping into the sea more recently on holiday.  And then I see all those who have so little or who have no family and no home or who are suffering from a disease and think, how can I think like this? What is the matter with  me.  But, my husband knows, “It’s the disease” he whispers perpetually patiently.

So, I tried babywearing with my daughter almost five years ago.  It was snowing very heavily in the winter of 2012 and we lived right next to a lovely park so I found an old sling that a friend had leant me and although it was a bit broken, I tried it on and we went off for our first walk babywearing style!

When my son came along a couple of years after that after a complicated recovery from my first, I looked out a Kari Me stretchy wrap that I have purchased for carrying my daughter, but that had just been put away in the cupboard under the stairs as I didn’t know how to use it.  So I went along to our local sling library and that is where my baby wearing journey began really and then I bought a Hana wrap when it started warming up and my confidence started growing.  stretchy wrap 

Now carrying my son was the single best thing I ever did!  Even when my post natal depression with him was fairly severe, I wore him everywhere so that I was able to listen  and look out for his cues.  Our communication was and continues to be excellent and Albert is now a very social and thriving two and a half year who still loves to be carried.