Not me, not this, not again.

I have been doing everything I could to try to prevent post-natal depression (PND) this time around.

Failing that, I have been trying everything I could to try to prevent the need for pharmaceutical antidepressants. Speaking generically, I have nothing against antidepressants. Speaking for me…. I wouldn’t say I hate them, but it does come close.

But… it’d be fair to say I’m not coping anymore.

Add to that that William is by far my most difficult baby… I just don’t know what to DO with him. He’s not necessarily miserable or a grumpy baby as such, but he definitely has a real high-needs personality. By which I mean, if he’s up, and he’s being held (the way he likes) and talked to / played with, he’s a flirty, happy, downright charming baby. If you try to put him down for a few minutes – in the swing, in the bouncer, in his playgym – he complains after only a minute or two. He just needs constant attention. To some extent his sisters can and do help with that, because he’s fine being in any of the above places if they’re around to interact with him, but he can’t / doesn’t go more than 5-10 minutes max without interaction before he complains. And he’s not very happy with ME just talking to him when he’s in bouncer / playgym etc, if it’s me I have to be holding him.

I’m happy to babywear him – and he’s happy to be worn – but truth be told I’m not fond of wearing him around the house much In part because, when big kids are at school / kindy (aka during school hours) that’s my main chance to sit (and he doesn’t accept sitting while being worn) so in effect it creates more work for me… and because although he’ll sleep while worn, it’s usually not for more than about a 20 minute stretch – which is half his 40 min naptimes (which I don’t love but no longer see the point of fighting)

Up until about 2 weeks ago, he’d scream the place down every car trip – now we’ve half sorted a solution (as in, it works some of the time) but it’s made getting next to impossible. He’s so darn interested in everything that he overtires himself trying to take everything in when out and about…. so if I spend the morning out, I typically spend the afternoon trying to make up for it. It’s gotten to the point it just doesn’t seem worth it for things that are non-essential. Factor in that I’m an introvert at the best of times, nowadays I’m a downright hermit.

Through trial and error we diagnosed a dairy intolerance. In a lower-than-low moment within myself this weekend, I slipped and had dairy (combo of mega bad cravings, day from hell, plus having not eaten for around 8 hours). Now of course I’ve ‘broken’ my baby… the baby that would at least sleep semi decently through the night is now waking every 40 – 90 minutes wanting a boob for comfort and not being settled easily any other way. It’s my own damn fault of course but that doesn’t really help either, because what kind of mum DOES that? He’s been relatively normal through the day since then at least, rather than screaming like he used to while I was eating dairy regularly, but part of me wonders if that’s just due to him being older now and coping with it better, rather than a lack of symptoms.

When the big kids are here the noise gets to such I level I feel a bit like my head is going to explode. A lot of it is just normal kid noises really, so then there’s the shame / guilt that I can’t cope with that. I love my children to pieces, but I don’t feel I’m very good for them lately. I keep thinking that we should have stopped at two, because at the moment it feels like I have two more than I can manage.

DH dragged me to the GP last week to talk about things, and we did – but her only answer is the drugs. I’ve been on Paroxetine (Paxil) twice before, worked fairly well the first time (but was utter hell to come off of) and second time worked less well with far more side effects and a self-injury episode – and was STILL utter hell to come off of despite doing it over about a 2 month period. Due to me BFing, the only other drug GP will offer me is Sertaline (Zoloft). I tried it the first day and spent the whole day feeling seasick and the whole night wide awake with a skin-crawling, jittery feeling. Standard advice, is of course, to take it for 2-4 weeks for the side effects to ‘wear off’… but I don’t know how well I can take 2-4 weeks of those effects, particularly the insomnia and jitters. With *any* SSRI medication, and the known withdrawal / discontinuation syndrome…. it scares me, frankly. The last time I went through it, super slowly, I thought, ‘never again’. ATM I feel like I have no choice… and am very worried that if I agree to take them, I’m signing up for life. (The Maternal Mental Health team, in my experience with them, suggested I should be medicated for life…. let’s not get me started on why I don’t love MMH)

Still feeling utter crap this week, and at the nagging of the husband, I tried again – and had the exact same effects, again awake ALL night, this time with a bout of restless legs as well as the insomnia and nausea. DH dragged me back to the doctor today and she’s now prescribed me paroxetine with the reasoning that she will put a referral through to MMH and that can keep me on an even keel until I make it through the waiting list for MMH to see me, where they might be able to fine tune / change my drugs.

I’m feeling completely trapped, and just want to have a massive tantrum. I don’t like MMH (hoping I get someone different this time…. ) and Paroxetine at the best of times just numbs me, puts me on autopilot and makes me feel very Stepford like… but the husband can’t afford more time off work, he’s taken more than he really has leave to already, and I’m not coping otherwise. I dread being alone with the baby because I feel like I don’t know how to make him happy…. and he’s always so good for other people.

There’s also a wee voice saying to just keep persisting with the sertaline, because admittedly I’ve felt a bit better today (took it yesterday but I think the effects are still on). Granted, space cadet like from insomnia, but once I gave up trying to sleep I still feel like I have more energy than when not on drugs and with my usual 3-4 hours broken sleep. But I also know if I have a couple nights in a row of zero sleep things will likely get ugly. I’m feeling the “come down” (for lack of a better word) from them now and the tiredness is definitely hitting, but that’s it really. Granted, I’d only taken one dose so not really built up in my system to come down off of.

Sick and tired of being between the rock and a hard place. Pissed off that, even with admitting I can’t function without medication, I still don’t get to feel good. I feel like the sacrificial lamb, resigning to something between years and a lifetime on drugs still feeling only so-so in order for the rest of the family to function. Pissed off at the unfairness of life that I am so broken and can’t just get on with it and enjoy my baby.

I just feel I’m damned regardless of what I do. I’m judged as a bad mum for getting PND in the first place. I’m judged if I go on medication – and if I don’t.

I hate post-natal depression. I hate the stigma around it that makes it so much worse than ‘normal’ depression, because everyone knows having a baby is “the happiest time in your life”. I hate the side effects of the medication, and the dependency it creates. And I hate myself for being so broken that I end up unable to function each time I have a baby.

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5 thoughts on “Not me, not this, not again.

  1. I’m so sorry that you are feeling this way. I can’t say I know what post natal depression is like but I have definitely had some low points in my life and I know they really are not a place you want to be. I hope that you are able to find some solace soon. Don’t blame yourself and don’t feel like you have done anything wrong and like you are “supposed to feel” some certain way. This is how you feel and never beat yourself up for feeling what you feel.

  2. I’m sorry you’re having such an awful time of it Margo, it seems so unfair that the joy of your (new and older) kiddies is taken from you by the monster that is PND 😦

  3. This is very well written, and finally, I have a clue as to what you are going through. I can offer moral support and an ear. I won’t offer words of platitudes because not only are they not helpful, but they are often said to make thr person who says them feel better, not the person the words are directed to. However, know that I care deeply.

  4. You *ARE* a good mother. Proof by the fact that you do care–bad mothers don’t care at all. (((hugs)))

  5. I think the sooner people are honest about babies not being “the happiest time in your life” the better Margo….I love how honest you are, keep being honest….

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