Mummy stuff

An update on being part-time depressed

Not enough to make me happy

Not enough to make me happy

The beauty of writing things down lies in its cathartic capacities. The beauty of posting these things online lies in a) the advice you get, b) the support you receive and c) the subtle pressure of acting upon it. After I confessed last Thursday, I have read through your comments and emails (thank you!!) and realised a couple of things:

I am far from alone. The majority of women experience some sort of depression after having a baby. And a lot of childfree women do too.

I have indeed grown to anticipate feeling awful once a month – which started to make me feel miserable and anxious for the rest of the month (thanks for pointing this out, Charlotte!).

I did feel better about two months ago. The two big things I did differently then were eating much healthier (I had this superfoods charged Pure Package delivery, remember?) and… breastfeeding!

I can’t believe I didn’t realise this earlier, but my little emotional crash happened pretty much exactly a week after I stopped breastfeeding. It makes total sense now – a sudden drop in hormones, the emotional aspect of weaning… It’s not as common as PND that appears right after having a baby, but it does happen.

I have briefly considered seeing a councillor but scrapped that plan for now. I did plenty of cognitive behavioural therapy after recovering from an eating disorder (one and a half decades ago). I have plenty of tools to help me figure out what makes me happy. In fact, I’ve got so many tools, you could call me the Bob The Builder of CBT.

Unfortunately, motherhood alone does not make me happy. I am trying not to feel guilty about saying this, but I need some sort of mental stimulation that keeps me from, well, going mental. I need to get out of the house. Without children.

I have talked long with Big M about this. Part of the Path to Happiness consists of him putting the girls to bed one evening during the week, without me hovering in the background. Aka I will have a night out that I can spend writing, meeting friends, or picking my nose ad libitum.

I have also decided against getting meds. As my friend Julia pointed out, clinical depression doesn’t show up once a month at a set time. It seems wrong to take medication everyday for something that’s only a problem during a couple of days out of 30. I am particularly weary of taking hormones (as in the previously prescribed Cyclogest), as a member of my close family has been battling hormone related breast cancer.

However, I am starting a long list of supplements as soon as they arrive in the post. I have seen a Kinesiologist – a lovely lady who has helped me before; during and after both my pregnancies. I would prefer to get all I need through healthy and scrumptious foods alone, but unfortunately, this isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

And last but not least – the Pea will start three mornings of nursery as soon as she turns a year old in September. Which will give me some much needed time to put towards freelance work and writing.

Light is definitely on the horizon.

23 Comments

  1. Well done you. I agree that putting it in writing often makes things more manageable

  2. I never comment on blogs, but twitter characters just aren’t enough! I feel like I wrote this post, and after this weekend, I too feel like things are getting better [XO was born in November] – I have been working from home with him and whilst he was a baby it was easy as he slept so much, now I feel guilty for working so much whilst he is awake so end up working late into each evening after he has gone to bed!

    I am now winding down my work after 6 months in anticipation of nursery [also 3 days a week] so I can spend more quality time with XO when he is at home and not feel guilty about my work! I wrote things down here and there and plan to start the blog I wanted to start when I fell pregnant, and feel like everything is starting to fall into place 🙂

    It’s funny because this morning I found this post >> [The Triumph of the Working Mother] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/opinion/sunday/coontz-the-triumph-of-the-working-mother.html and then read this and realised that it is OK to enjoy work AND motherhood. In a way my choice to work instead of take maternity leave could have contributed to the way I have been feeling, but at the same time I often wonder if I had not worked whether I would have been in a worse state?

    I am so pleased that you are feeling happier and that you wrote this post today, I really did feel like I was alone, and wonder whether other mums just don’t publicly admit that they did dabble in work and they too were finding it difficult!

    x

  3. so good to hear that you found ways to sort yourself out. It can be hard when you have so much on your plate. I have be on a 4 month battle trying to wean lill guy off the breast and have failed every time. There’s a part of me that is convinced it was meant to be, as much as breastfeeding became really on the past few months – lill guy is almost one, I’m back at work, sleepless nights – I think the depression and anxiety I’ve been suffering from since pregnancy could be much worse if I didn’t have my daily meetings with my gorgeous boys for some cuddles and milk time. ,,make the best of your ME time! xxx

  4. Kelleyn says

    I usually get a little depressed around the time of the month or as my husband says postal. While I don’t feel the need to get a job, I do need time to myself. We put my daughter in day care 2 mornings and the other two she comes to the gym with me and plays there. Working out really helps and as you said meds was not the answer it is only a bandaide to the real problem. I go out with my girlfriends often and hubby steps in more to help. I hope you start feeling better soon. Doing these things sure helped me and never feel guilty because what works for one mom is not the answer for another. The world puts way to much pressure for us woman to fit into a cookie cutter mold. Media does a good job at making us feel like crap. Don’t buy into it! Hugs from Atlanta, Georgia

  5. That’s great to hear! Don’t feel guilty about saying motherhood alone doesn’t make you feel fully happy. A lot of mums feel the same, I certainly do. As much as I love my boys, personally I am a better mum for them because I do other things. We are all different, with different needs and none are better than others.
    Hope the supplements sort it out,
    Pxx

  6. Thanks for writing and being so honest about your depression. My baby boy is 4 mths now and I have off days/weeks. Motherhood is enough for me either, but financially I can’t afford to go back to work with 2 little ones. Hoping when I finish breastfeeding I can get some me time! It’s inspiring to know you’re taking positive steps.

  7. sounds like you have a good plan in place and you know what works for you, wishing you lots of happy days xx

  8. its good to hear you have a good plan! i found that doing that whole30 way of eating did tons for my happiness. i also let mark take the wheel with wes quite often or i’d go crazy!

  9. It definitely helps when you know a certain mood is cyclical and therefore temporary. x

  10. Rachel says

    Your blog is continuing to help me. Although not depressesd, or feeling depressed, I feel a battle with my body is the trouble. If I Could be in pjs all day breastfeeding, I would!! I am going to breastfeed until 12 months. 6 left to go! I shrunk back down to size 8 9 stone after being 11 1/2 pregnant and 9 1/2 pre pregnancy, and feel skinny, boney. My hair is continuously falling out. Although I look slim, and glossy, I FEEL worn out, skinny and not nice!
    Going shopping tomorrow to inject to life into my wardrobe to suit my new very small frame, I’m having regular holistic massages to ‘ground’ me.
    You will get through all these milestones, your honest blog is helping others. X

  11. Well done! This is inspiring, and I’m hoping I can take a page from your book and start applying them to my own life. I know I need some help but I feel so defeatist and I think I’m getting in my own way… sigh. Kisses and champagne darling.

  12. My hormones went crazy after I gave up breastfeeding last time and am expecting it this time around too. Horrible. It will slowly get better though and it must be a relief to realise the cause, I find that helps at least. Once you know the cause, you can go about making changes.

    As for feeling guilty about your children alone not being enough stimulation alone. Don’t feel quilty about it at all. I sing it from the houses that my children aren’t enough stimulation for me. It doesn’t mean we love our children any less and I actually think it is very healthy. To put your entire life’s interests on your children would just be way too pressure for their shoulders to bare and then, what happens to you once your children fly the nest? Would you cease to exist? Other sources of interest are vital to us mums keeping some sense of self away from being ‘mum’. That’s no bad thing. All the best from Berlin x

  13. I think those are all very sensible steps. I struggled with severe depression during my recovery over eating disorders…cheers to the German healthcare system and almost 1 year in hospital treatment. Lots of countries wouldn’t have paid for that and I know I wouldn’t be alive without it. There is no shame in taking meds, and I have in times of my life, but your friends observation makes total sense and my first thought was as well to start with supplements 🙂

  14. Great to hear you are so positive! I too had a big crash that coincided with the end of breastfeeding (and was right before Christmas) and I’m convinced it’s a huge factor in PND. Shame it’s not really spoken about too much, I had no idea at the time xx

  15. Good to hear you have a plan! September is not that far away.
    I totally hear you when you say that motherhood is not enough for everyone, I’m in your crowd. x

  16. I’m glad my comment helped 🙂
    This is one of the reasons I love blogging too, sometimes its the best way to gain a new perspective on a situation. Like I said before, medication saved my life but my blogging friends also helped me so so much (there is not better proof than this post from years ago, the support I got was tremendous – http://misssearles.blogspot.co.uk/2010/02/how-am-i-supposed-to-copecan-you-help.html)
    Light is definitely on the horizon – as long as there is light you will get through it, if the light ever starts to fade then your friends are here to help it shine again xxxxx

  17. Hang in there. There is light at the end of the tunnel. When the Pea starts nursery school you will get a much needed breather and a chance to flex your creative muscles.

  18. So sorry I’m late to this. I read your last post and it’s good to see that this one reads a lot more positively. I think you’re plan of action sounds exactly right. We must meet for that drink!

  19. Jo says

    Oh love, all I can say is things will improve, especially now you have a plan of action. Don’t be too hard on yourself about your lows and feelings of despair, we have all been there. Parenting is so very tricky as are dealing with hormones. Since having children my PMT is horrific. I don’t realise the suffocating greyness, anxiety and feelings of worthlessness until I am out of it again. I am trying magnesium supplements, which also help hair, sleep, bones and bowels! Has helped for me a little, also what has helped is trying to baton down the anxiety and not do the same things I do when I feel anxious (such as googling horrific illnesses I think I or my children may have! Bizarre I know, but I was spending hours researching various symptoms) so I turn off the lap top and go for a walk, or go shopping or do something that can distract. A lot of motherhood is spent being in the house alone, where dark thoughts can fill your mind so making time to meet friends, go to the hairdressers, renting a DVD with your husband, going to meet him for lunch, are all really important forms of distraction from your own head and thoughts. No one tells you how mundane it can all be, as well as amazingly rewarding. Stay strong xx

  20. I really don’t want to mak elight of this, but sleep and time to oneself are some of the best miracle cures for these symptoms. I am not a natural mother. I love my daughter more than life itself, but I didn’t respond well to 24/7 interaction and that’s what a lot of the early months are.

    I think you’re doing all the right things, you’re being proactive and pushing forward. You’re showing your strength. Wish I lived closer I would hassle you with coffee mornings and I’d take the Pea for walks with me.

    So, so, so looking forward to lunch!!

    xox

  21. Interesting reading about stopping breastfeeding & depression. I bfed for almost a year and the 2nd year in my baby’s life was tough – until I went on meds when he was almost 2…

    I took 6 months of mat leave with my 1st and 11 months with second. Now as much as life is hectic juggling 4 days of work involving 2hrs of commuting on each of those days – I love working, I love being just me for 4 days a week and not “so-and-so’s mother”.

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