I recently read an excellent blog from one of our volunteers. I was inspired to write some questions for my husband about my postnatal depression and recovery. I asked my husband to answer as honestly as possible and I haven’t changed a single word he has typed.
Describe postnatal depression to me in just 5 words.
Frightening insight in mental awareness.
Did you notice a change in me before my diagnosis ? Was I different with Millie?
Yes, you were short tempered with both children and had what I’d say was an ignorance to your surroundings.
How did you feel when I was diagnosed?
I started my treatment of antidepressants and therapy but suffered a massive relapse 6 weeks later. In your words explain what i was like that day?
Instantly I could see in your temperament that the anxiety was back, also anything I said made no difference to what thoughts you had running through your mind. I have learnt you need to hear the words of reassurance from someone in medical authority before you believe things would improve.
What was your biggest concern?
That you would not accept help.
Do you think I received enough professional support after my relapse? If not, what could have been done better?
I think there was enough support, but and it’s a big But, there are too many mixed messages. I know everyone has a different aspect and outlook but there needs to be more communication between professionals before speaking to the patient.
Do you think I received enough support from family? If not, how could they have helped more?
No, you and I as a family, we didn’t receive enough family support, and I think that would have played a big role in giving you a more balanced outlook and acceptance to what happens to a lot of women; but I also think that a lack of family support after the birth of Millie also added to the outcome of the depression.
What were the additional stresses put on you whilst I recovered?
I’d say none. More commitment yes, looking after the children more meant it made me appreciate being a Father and husband more, if it had not happened I would have walked out of the door to work everyday and not realized how fickle life is.
Did you ever just want to walk away?
No, not in our situation as we had tried so hard to get to where we were. You were my rock and I remember just clinging to you.
What advice would you give to other men reading this struggling to deal with their partners’ postnatal depression? Or feeling lost, not knowing what to do?
Be there, but be firm. Don’t give in to what you know is real, a lot of what you said was an exaggeration of what you thought that myself and others thought of you, and also how you couldn’t cope. In reality, even with postnatal depression, you managed with everyday ups and downs.
Did you ever think I would get better ?
I didn’t look that far in to it, reading in to postnatal depression everyone is different, if the help & support is there then everyone can see there is a future, which I came to realise was a reality you struggled with.
I still have bad days. How do you think i get through them? (apart from tablets and chocolate)
Knowing that there’s another day around the corner that will be different again, better or worse, but it’s another day for improvement and learning about yourself. Also that a smile or a cry off the little one that relies on you should make you proud.
Do you think anything positive has come out of our journey with postnatal illness?
It’s hard to say it’s a positive when, without postnatal depression life just carries on , but I do think we both take everyday with a little more appreciation.
Is there anything else you want to add that you think may be helpful to people reading this?
Talk, talk & talk some more, to your partner, and to professionals. Don’t be afraid to speak the truth no matter how deep you may think it is, there has been someone else there before and they have come out the other end by being honest and truthful. Pent up thoughts are no good to anybody, so let someone know , anyone.