Last week, I did a bit of a blog post about PND (postnatal depression) because, since I came close to topping myself on a number of occasions, I’ve wanted to raise awareness about it and to help others from spiralling down the same (or similar) hole.
Well that was a lovely, sunshiney intro to a blog post! Sorry about that!
Anyhoo, I put a line in there, kind of not really thinking about it, just writing what I felt needed to be written in light of … well, our community and the plethora of information out there already about postnatal (and other) depressions and mental health issues.
It went a bit like this. Actually, it went a lot like this because I copied and pasted it directly …
… don’t bring up the state of the house (is it messy and unclean, or, quite the opposite, a little too tidy and clean and out of character for her?) …
I threw it in after some long and indepth discussions with my friend and colleague, Jo, whom I work closely with at Support For Mums, and the variety of ways in which postnatal depression can present; from an outsiders perspective.
I mention it because of my own experience with PND, and that of a few others I know.
I bring it up again, now, because of some comments I received after the last post on the subject. Comments like:
If one, just ONE, person had realised that my house being perfect was too tidy and that it was that way from things not being right within me, I may have sought help for PND. Instead everyone kept telling me how wonderful it was that I had suddenly “got my act together” and started acting like a “proper wife and mother”. And with every comment I felt more of a fraud and a failure and the black gt bigger and stronger.
We have an overwhelming understanding of PND looking like a tired, sad woman, uncaring in her appearance, crying a lot, unable to get out of bed … I’m sure you have your own vision of what PND “looks like”.
For many, this stereotype is true. Stereotypes come from somewhere, right? So, yeah, a woman who suddenly, and for a prolonged period, is no longer as proud of her house as she used to be, or cares less for her appearance than usual is cause for concern. Not a one off or randomly here and there, but day after day, or where the latter her is more prevalent than the former her.
A woman who can’t find the strength or energy to get out of bed, who lets her friendships slide and who appears to be turning into a recluse is a worry.
One who cries a lot for, apparently, insignificant or unworrying things, yes, you need to worry if she’s doing it over a period of time.
Anxiety may come into it too; she may be overly worried or concerned about the baby’s development, cautious to the extreme about driving or carrying the baby, or having others hold or care for it. Extreme to the point of it taking over and her being unable to think clearly in the meantime, or obsessing about these things.
There is another side that rarely gets mentioned; the woman who changes in the other direction. One whom was fairly relaxed about her hair or her dress becomes a little fixated, unable to leave the house until she can present to the world a woman who is in control, glamorous and together.
A new mum who has taken the weekly housework to an almost obsessive compulsive level, a level that is very much unlike the woman she used to be.
If you find her on the floor, with a pipecleaner and bottle of disinfectant, cleaning the baffle under the fridge, then you may have a problem on your hands.
For me, I became a little more caring about how I looked, but more than that I quickly became known as ‘The Party Queen’, hosting all manner of party plan party in existence. I coordinated every social outing our mother’s group went on, from dinners to bbqs, to a visit to the local playground to a quick, ‘unscheduled’ coffee catch up.
I also cancelled at the last minute on a number of occasions, because I couldn’t face being around anyone.
What I had to do, however, was prove that I was capable and in control, the life of they party and coping, damnit!
Others may be obsessed with order and organisation, colour coordinated t-shirts that match the draw they go in, only using a certain colour peg on certain coloured clothes, ensuring all the towels are folded to exact specifications, and shirts are folded with a ruler. Cutlery may need to be positioned ‘just so’ and the shampoo bottles lined up in a specific order …
Meanwhile, she’s not crying or angry, not sad or shabby looking. She has barely put her bathrobe on, let alone worn it for days in a row. She’s up before everyone else, cleaning out the toaster with a toothbrush and making a breakfast that consists of only the healthy options (then cleaning the toaster out again). She does this with her hair and makeup done, and looking rather with it.
PND doesn’t always look dark and gloomy.
Sometimes it looks sunny and in control.
A little too sunny and in control if you look …