What do you do when someone asks you about your mental health and asks you to write a guest blog? The answer is simple, you think about it for approximately a second and then say yes!
Why did I choose to guest blog?
When Phil Tottman aka The Book of Beasties contacted me, we started talking, he asked me if I wanted to write a feature blog based on my experience of Mental Health, I felt it was a perfect match. With his company and my personal experience, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to share my story and help others. As Phil says “despite being one of the 10-15% of new mums who have experienced postnatal depression”, I took it upon myself to create greater awareness of postnatal depression, letting other mums know ‘it is okay to not be okay’.
Mental Health vs The Unlikely Mummy
When I think of Kavita, I think of a ‘normal’ person, from a good family and the youngest of three with two older brothers. My parents have now been married for 40+ years (compared to my 2.5) and I have one incredibly cheeky son, born in May 2018. I wouldn’t want to change any of this as the introduction of my story. What I would change is the fear, the loneliness, the guilt, the hate, the hurt and the difficulties that come with any mental illness. For me, my mental illness was Postnatal Depression.
Postnatal Depression (PND)
What is it? Postnatal depression is a common type of depression that some women experience after having a baby, although some women experience ‘baby blues’, for others it can last a little longer and that is when the emotions, feelings and experiences are diagnosed as postnatal depression. There are many factors that determine PND and I feel certain factors contributed to my diagnosis of PND. My pre-care with the midwives, my care within the delivery room, my care afterwards, my emergency caesarean. Maybe it was the fact my husband returned to work after 5 days or was it just the fear of being a mum who didn’t have a clue. Was it the loneliness I experienced when I was left on my own? I honestly do not know what the reason was for why I had or why I at times still think I have PND, but I am grateful I asked for help when I did, and I still ask for help today.
Postnatal depression doesn’t have to define your early days of motherhood, nor does it have to define you completely, it is a chapter in your life that some experience more of whereas, other don’t experience it at all. Either way, it really is just a chapter and one that can be overcome after the feeling of being constantly overwhelmed has passed. For me, I struggled with this in the early days, I felt so ashamed for not instantly falling in love with my son, I felt guilty that I struggled to feed him but worse of all, I felt nothing for the want of my life. I didn’t understand it at the time but the anger that was building up and the anger I felt was toxic. I was unable to care for my son in the best way I should have, the care for myself or my husband didn’t exist and all I wanted to do every moment I had was cry, that to me was mental health. My health was hurting, I didn’t know what I could do to help it. What I do know now and what I had wished I had known during those early days was the health part of mental health. I wish I concentrated on the HEALTH side of mental health. I wish I had a better diet, exercised more, cared for myself, had the right people to talk to. Most of all, I wish I had just loved myself. It is hard for me to admit that I felt like a failure and there is a lot of fear and regret in my past behaviour. I lost a part of me, friendship groups, respect for myself, but worst of all, I miss the person I knew I could have been and the person I wish my son first met.
When I was told I had PND, I lost a part of myself forever and a part I know I will never get back. That is the saddest part. You hear all the time that you are never the same person once you are a mum and motherhood can change a person. The truth is I hated the change, I craved my old life and at times I hated what I had because it took my freedom. Now on reflection, it pains me to even think that way. There are so many people in the world longing for a baby, a family and what I have. Back then, all I had was hatred towards some of the things I was lucky to have. But that was me then not me now. Now I am happy with what I have created, that cheeky grin that smiles back at me every morning is the greatest reward for all the self-help and therapy. The hardest thing was returning to the woman I once was and now juggling between family and work is by far the greatest achievement. I was in awe of those who were ‘working’ mums and now that I am one, I understand the difficulties to it and I am proud of that, I am proud of what I have achieved and with the strength I have inside me to be an even better version of myself not just for me, but for my son.
We can all learn to live with mental health illnesses, we can all learn to deal with them too, but to overcome it is another story and a story that is often untold. However, as The Unlikely Mummy, I am becoming to understand and gain the confidence in telling my story of beating the illness or at least trying to. I am slowly dealing and learning from my mental health challenges. When you feel ready, head over to my page and have a chat with me firstname.lastname@example.org or just take a look at my journey so far on www.unlikelymummy.co.uk. I think it is important to understand mental health, introduce talking about it early in schools and support everyone who suffers or encounters it. Parents, grandparents, employees, employers, friends and family – we all need to be aware of what mental health can be and ways we can all help. None of us are alone, it isn’t contagious, we all can learn to help support each other. We just need to understand.
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