The birth of my second child was complicated by me not delivering the placenta. Google it if you need more info. The medical intervention, which saved my life, triggered a suppressed memory, which in turn triggered a state of depression. This depression took four years to deal with.
One of the reasons it took so long to find a way through is that it took six months to accept that I had a problem. I spent six months trying to pretend all was well. In many ways the birth of my first child was much harder; the pregnancy was more complicated, the delivery was much more difficult and there were some problems with feeding for the first three months. Yet in comparison it was a breeze.
I couldn’t understand why I was struggling. I had sailed through having one baby, why was having two so difficult? Why was I failing? I kept telling myself that all would be well, that the wolf living inside me would go away eventually – or at least I would learn to control it if I just kept going. A few weeks in, the Health Visitor came to check that I was doing OK. She put me through the Edinburgh Scale, a test to check for post natal depression. I cheated. I gave answers that would suggest that I was doing fine. I even knew not to make it all sound fantastic because that would be more convincing. I did a great job. As I watched her walk down the garden path after her visit, I turned to my baby and said “well we got away with that.” I was so pleased with myself; it felt like a victory.
The pressure, real or perceived, to be seen to be thriving was so overwhelming that I hid my depression from someone who could help me. I didn’t want her to see that I wasn’t OK, that I was a failure. I didn’t want anyone to see it. Goodness, I didn’t even want to look at it myself.
The problem with depression is that you need to be able to deal with it logically, rationally, in an organized way, with self care and compassion. And of course none of those resources are available to you. So it took six months to even start the process of recovery. It took the intervention of others, medication and talking to get through, to send the wolf away.
And I did get through. Depression doesn’t have to be a chronic condition.