My son is ten years old today.
When I reflect on the early weeks and months of his life, I take pride in how far we have both come. Together.
I was so unwell, the struggle was dark and frightening and felt truly endless. But it did end. I did recover. Light came into my life again and I am grateful every single day.
Despite the everyday struggles of the last ten years, I can still say that the first six months of my son’s life were the hardest I’ve ever faced, before or since. My sanity abandoned me, my mind betrayed me and I needed a lot of things to pull me back out.
I also needed love, and I was lucky enough to be given it, fortified with it. Love from my husband, my family, my friends, my fellow sufferers and from kind & patient professionals. It might sound corny but without that love, the other stuff I needed may not have worked.
Most of all I needed love from my son, and he gave it to me in droves. It shot from him with his bright smiles. It emanated from his warm, cuddly little body. His love gave me strength, patience and purpose. It gave me a reason to get better and being able to fully feel & experience that deep love when I recovered was my magical reward.
It’s been ten years and I can honestly say I don’t often think about PND now. If it’s mentioned on the TV I might cry. If I’m discussing it with my son, as part of a bigger mental health conversation, I’m able to easily remember. But it doesn’t consume me and hasn’t for many, many years. I fully recovered and have stayed well, happy & at peace.
That isn’t to say parenting isn’t difficult – it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I have an almost four-year-old daughter now too and she is challenging & exhausting to say the least! But I face each day with a clear mind and that is a beautiful thing.
I used to worry that experiencing depression & anxiety in my son’s early years would damage him. That my being broken would somehow break him a little too. But that was just Anxiety talking. On reflection, I think it’s actually made us stronger and closer. Would I be as honest with him about life’s challenges if I hadn’t faced one of my own? Would I be as grateful for the love you feel from your child if I hadn’t been to place where I couldn’t feel at all? Would he and I be as close as we are if I didn’t know what it was like when an unwell mind forces a barrier between parent and child? I don’t know. What I do know is that he and I are good.
I thought I would write this blog forever. I had so much passion for it. And I still want to help people. I still share my story whenever I can. I still keep a careful eye on anyone in my life who’s recently had a baby.
But as the rest of my life became bigger, this blog became smaller.
The words on these pages will always be here and I hope they bring as much value to others as they do to me. I still get messages from people who find these pages helpful and I’m grateful to be able to bring them a little comfort.
If this is you right now, if you are me from ten years ago, know this: you will get better. Life will shine again and your child will love and be loved. You will win.
It’s been ten years but I’ll never forget, and I would never want to. PND made me who I am and that is the unexpected gift.