I would like to introduce you all to Emma, Emma blogs at The Real Super Mum . I don’t often have guest blogs, in fact this is just the second I have done, but when Emma offered to write guest pieces on twitter I decided to talk to her about it. I am extremely glad I did, as she agreed to write about her experiences with Post Natal Depression (PND) and the effects it had on her family and husband.
PND still isn’t dealt with or talked about as it should be, it is such a huge issue yet support and awareness is patchy at best. Especially in men, although officially now recognised as an illness, there is little or no support or recognition. It is subject I have written about here but the warning signs are often missed. Especially the fact that if found in men then high likelihood their partner is also suffering and needs to be supported.
I’m not particularly happy with the heading but its Emma’s heading so it stays, what I would say is in my opinion, in no way was she to blame, her actions were born out of illness not malice or selfishness. It is lack of support or awareness that is to blame and all of us that work with expectant parents shoulder part of that responsibility. Awareness needs to be raised and parents made aware of signs to look for.
Matt & I met online, within 6 months of talking we arranged to meet for the first time. Two weeks later he moved in and within 6 weeks we were expecting our first child together. Matt already had 3 children from his previous marriage, so had I. Matt was a superb father, he did everything he could to take on an active role with our new daughter. He did nappy changes, feeding, bath times and did his fair share of wakeful nights. Our relationship blossomed and we were a very happy family. When our daughter was 8 weeks old it was not such a shock to find out I was pregnant, we had played Russian roulette on a few occasions, the gun was loaded, it aimed and fired. We were soon preparing to have our second child.
When our son was born, I was far too busy being mummy to 5 that I did not realise my own mental health was deteriorating. I have always for as long as I can remember had trouble with depression, this is when the nightmare with my illness started, it would last a further 2 years. It was something that had crept up slowly and then overnight it changed me.
I became extremely paranoid and became rather obsessive, with the children, the housework and even with very small trivial things. When our son needed a nappy change or feeding, I would do it. I did not allow anyone other than me to hold him. I was his mum, he needed me. I believe using him as an excuse to make me feel better about myself, needed by someone, it was my escape from the black cloud hanging over my head. If I kept myself busy with my new baby the depression could not win. While I was so busy fighting with my own demons I did not notice what I was doing to Matt.
Of course Matt knew something was wrong with me, I guess he did not know much about PND, not many men do. Whenever he tried to intervene I would become angry and I even started to distance myself from him, did not even want him in the same room as me. I took it that he was judging my parenting capabilities and I even spent the first 4 months of our sons life sleeping on the sofa, using our son as an excuse.
“Both of us were suffering and it pushed us so far apart.”
My depression lifted after a few months and by the time our son was 6 months old Matt had taken a back seat to caring for our son, while he was still an amazing daddy to our daughter and to my other 3 children, he had barely had the chance to hold his new son. It was then I noticed how much damage I had done by pushing him out. It broke my heart when he admitted he felt he had no bond with his son, I knew I was to blame.
Matt did go to speak with the GP, was prescribed antidepressants and even spoke to a counsellor. The counselling was remarkable, it revealed that the relationship Matt had with his own father was not a positive one, with me also refusing him to be allowed to bond with his son, the inevitable happened, he rejected him instead.
Within time that bond did happen, the two of them are now inseparable. The way our son’s eyes light up when daddy walks into the room or picks him up, can melt your heart. To look at them now you would have never have known at one time he never bonded with him.
I know to this day he still beats himself up, so do I. I still feel guilty that I played a huge part in his depression. Matt was never diagnosed with PND, he was diagnosed with severe depression – I am under the belief that health professionals still to this date do not recognise that PND happens in men too. This is something I feel very strongly about. The focus is always on the mum, never the dad. ( Post Natal depression in men)
Within a year our second son was born, when our third child together was 6 months old, Matt would have to take on the full time care of all my 6 children, but that’s a different story, for another time.