Thursday, 3 December 2009

Post natal depression

Tired again today - this is probably a permanent condition of motherhood, especially with young children. We had a power cut at about one o'clock this morning. It lasted about an hour, and we would probably never have known about it if our five year old had not woken up - which caused quite a palaver as he is scared of the dark. We armed him with a torch and explained that there was nothing we could do to get the lights back on - but he couldn't settle, kept climbing out of bed and wandering around with the torch on, genuinely confused. In the end I took him into our bed and cuddled him to sleep.

Meanwhile the little one had woken up, started shouting and didn't stop. He doesn't cry in the night, just shouts very crossly, 'No bed! No! No dark!' until I get up to see to him. Then he will quieten down and wait until I am back in my cosy bed, just getting warm and sleepy before he starts yelling again. 'Mummy! Mummy! Now! NOW!'

That went on until three am this morning. In the end I stayed with him until he finally fell asleep. I got back to my bed, saw the five year old sleeping peacefully and was tempted to leave him there - until I remembered that I did that one night last week and have had a sore back ever since, from being thoroughly kicked in my sleep. So I picked him up and carried him back to his own bed. Peace at last...

Anyway, I was mulling this over today, feeling slightly under par as you do when you haven't had enough sleep, and I decided to share on my blog a piece of advice for new mothers. Try not to worry about any strange post natal thoughts or experiences, and if anything does happen which worries you, tell a health visitor, doctor or other professional. Don't be put off because you think that they might think you are going mad.

After my first child was born, I did suffer postpueral pyschosis, and believe me the doctors can tell when you are properly crazy. I won't go into it now, but it was probably the most distressing of my three breakdowns.

Probably because they knew how ill I had been, several people later confided in me about their own postnatal experiences. I though I was the only person I knew who had had any of these symptoms, so I was extremely surprised to find out that these women, who were some of the most organised and professional people I have met, had also suffered paranoia and unwanted intrusions into their thoughts.

One girl (well, thirty year old) had thought for several weeks that she was being followed in her car whereever she went. She was terrified whenever she left the house, alone or with the baby, but she suffered in silence, because she knew she was suffering from paranoia and she was even more frightened of telling the medics about it.

Another friend of a similar age confessed to me that she had seriously thought of driving her car off the edge of a motorway, with all the family in it including the new baby - or, as she explained it, the thought had come unbidden into her head, which had greatly alarmed her.

A lot of these upsets can be put down to sleep deprivation, and the rest to hormones. For most people, things settle down within weeks or months. If pychosis does set in, it is on a whole different plane. Meanwhile though, it does help to talk about these things, and health professionals should be able to reassure you about what you are going through and suggest ways to alleviate the symptoms - like making sure you rest enough, eat healthily and so on.

So, not exactly what I promised to write about yesterday, which was some of my background, with an aim to trying to explain how I ended up with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

That will have to wait until tomorrow.

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