Over and over again my husband and I have argued over his degree of supportiveness since I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. On a physical support level he has been great; taking care of our daughter when I need extra sleep or time to get ready, helping out around the house and doing the food shopping; also, he has always been a very hands on dad when it comes to the baby duties, happily volunteering for nappy changes, bath and bedtime routines, feeding and even taking her to baby groups. He works shifts, so this has worked well with our family dynamics and I really can’t fault the fact that he is an amazing dad! However, on an emotional support level, he has been a big pile of stinky baby pooh!!!!!
Four months after our beautiful daughter’s arrival, I received my PND badge, returning from the doctors with a confirmed diagnosis, an on-going prescription and a box full of pills – not quite the new mummy trophy’s I would have liked to have received! One of the first things I said to my husband after my appointment, was that he needed to research Post Natal Depression. It was immensely important to me that he should prepare himself for inevitable shit storm that was coming our way; the path ahead was going to difficult and he would have to put up with lot from me, picking up the slack along the way!…..I explained I was aware that I was a raging and unpredictable ball of emotional carnage, but I literally had no control over how I was feeling. I urged him to find someone to talk to as I knew he would need support too and even suggested that he talked to my mum, who also experienced PND after she had me. I asked him to find out as much as he could about the symptoms of my illness so that he could support me and get a better understanding of what I was going through (in all honesty I was uneducated on PND too, so it was going to be a learning curb for both of us)……And the result of all this pleading, urging and explaining……diddly squat!!!!!!!
The months went by and I kept asking if he’d researched PND or spoken to anyone else for advice and support, the answer was always ‘no’. This really hurt me, especially as his reasons were down to things like: not enough time, he didn’t feel he needed to or he’d just forgot! The one person who I thought would be my absolute rock had left me consumed by the crashing waves in a sea of depression; it was a devastating blow, which left me feeling even more emotionally isolated and alone. I think that in his mind the pills would help, I would then get better and everything would go back to ‘normal’. The sad fact is, that anti-depressants are only part of the solution to recovering from PND; without real support and understanding, sufferers are highly unlikely to get better on their own.
It can be a very long and difficult road recovering from PND; on your journey you need someone to hold your hand to keep you steady, on the right track and to help pick you up if you stumble. Travelling the path alone is treacherous; it is so easy to trip up, fall down and just stay down. If you travel the PND path without the full support of those closest to you, it can prolong the journey and the scars from the falls will cut so much deeper. Sometimes there will be friends or family who will offer you a hand and help you up if you fall, but before you know it they have toddled off to continue along their life paths. Alone again we stand, afraid to take another step, dreading another crippling fall, weak from the scars we already bare. This is no way to travel….
I can not stress enough that those supporting a loved one with PND must fully commit to every part of their journey, they will need to be strong for the sufferer……so make sure if you are that guide, you are fully equipped with the correct attire, allowing you to remain strong and hold your footing!
Ps The attached picture is of one of the vitally important information leaflets provided by APNI (The Association for Post Natal Illness) – an amazing organisation – please check out their website! – http://apni.org/