“Whilst my daughter was being born I was living what’s supposed to be one of life’s best moments. Mentally, I was reliving one of my worst.”
Our amazing supporter and father Ross talks openly about his experiences of PTSD, fatherhood, depression and HOPE.
You never really know how life is going to play out. When I found out my wife was pregnant, I cried tears of joy. All I ever wanted was to become a dad. But little did I know, that less than a year from that moment, that I’d be crying again.
A Sudden Traumatic Birth
Much like most of my wife’s pregnancy, the birth was rather textbook. That was until the very end. We found ourselves in a cord prolapse situation which could have potentially been a dangerous scenario.
Within minutes we were rushed down to theatre. Surrounded by medical staff all holding a concerned look. I was clueless as to what was happening, but I was thinking the worst. Unconsciously I found myself being taken back to one of the worst moments of my life.
This scenario reminded me and took me back to a night out with my friend on a walk home where tragically my friend was involved in a road accident and sadly lost his life. The sadness and guilt has never left me but teamed with this, I have carried through that trauma. Anytime I find myself in a traumatic situation I’m instantly taken back to what happened.
Whilst my daughter was being born I was living what’s supposed to be one of life’s best moments, but mentally, I was reliving one of my worst.
Quickly Falling into the Grasps of Postnatal Depression
When our daughter was born I was expecting and waiting for the feeling everyone talks about of unconditional love. But instead, I felt nothing.
Initially I blamed my lack of feelings on the chaos of theatre, and later to the draining nature of having a new-born. But as the days progressed my feelings worsened. My daughter had a strong bond with my wife, but I didn’t feel the same was occurring with me. It felt mutual.
I had no bond. Just resentment. Jealousy and at times feelings of hate. At times I regretted the mere fact that she had been born. As far as I was concerned, my life was now worse because she was a part of it. Those awful feelings quickly brought on a dreaded sense of guilt and that made the matters worse.
Getting on the Road to Recovery
Fortunately, in a way, I’ve suffered with depression previously. So, I knew that those feelings could be temporary and would pass. They were fixable. I knew I needed time and hope.
I did everything that I could. I spoke to my Dr and asked for medications. I absorbed the role of being dad to help bond with my daughter. All I could do was hope. Hope that one day things would change. Hope that one day I could love my daughter like other people loved their children. Fortunately, that hope finally turned up.
Finding Hope in a Smile
When you’re in the deepest grasps of depression, it’s hard to see hope through the bleakness of the world. But it’s there. For me it came in a smile. Propped up on my arm and feeding, down to a nappy in our minimal British heat wave, in that moment I saw that she liked me. Something I hadn’t felt for the 8 weeks prior. It was the thin string of hope I needed to be able to cling to.
It gives you something to look to when a bad moment comes. Something to show to yourself that things can be good. One single smile sparked a hope that I could love my daughter. That a feeling could grow. I clung to that hope. At times it was the only thing that kept me going. I knew if I could feel it once, then I could feel it again. And that’s what I needed to keep going.
Find your piece of hope to get you through the dark days
Darkness can befall us at any time in our life, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be there forever. Hope is a powerful thing. It’s the speck of light in the abyss that gives you something to focus on. It’s the lowering hand reaching out to pick us up. And for me, it was a single smile that told me everything would eventually be ok.
Now my daughter is 15 months old. And how I feel now is vastly different to how I felt in those early days. To anyone out there that is struggling, just try to find a piece of hope to cling to. Use it to get you through the dark days when the whole world feels like it’s collapsing. Things can get better. You just need something to help show you the light.
You can follow Ross on his journey as a father via his parenting blog, Isablog