I’m sure I’m not the only one that has done this…. You jump in the car and as you’re going along the fuel light comes on. You mentally make a note to stop at the next garage and fill up. A few garages pass you by and you don’t stop. There are a few more miles in the tank right?? Nearly home now so I’ll just fill up the next time I pop out….
You totally forget that you need fuel, next time you get in the car; there is the light again brightly staring back at you reminding you you’re running low on fuel. I’ll admit I quite often run on fumes wondering how many miles (or meters) I’ve got left before I judder to an embarrassing halt.
I’m lucky to have never actually run out of fuel in my car before even though I’ve pushed it to the absolute limit many times.
What on earth has this got to do with post-natal depression?
Well, I now know how those poor cars felt. Dragging themselves along, running on the bare minimum, begging for more energy in order to keep going and do the job they need to do.
Like the car, my body had lots of parts that all needed to work together in order to keep going and produce the desired results. It felt as though all the parts in my body were pulling in different directions and working against each other creating an inner turmoil.
I am not a car. I do not run on diesel or petrol. I am an exhausted Mummy and I am currently running on minimum sleep and copious amounts of tea.
Each day I wake up even more exhausted than when I went to bed the previous night.
How on earth am I going to make it through this day and look after two other humans as well as myself while running so low on fuel?
But I didn’t have a choice. I had to look after them and myself, somehow. The longer this cycle continued the lower and lower I was running on reserves. My tank wasn’t just empty; the sides were sucking in on themselves trying to squeeze out any remaining fuel I can find.
One of the things that I found most exhausting in the early days after diagnosis was coping with the relentlessness of my own thoughts.
The constant internal battle of conflicting thoughts and feelings. The immense love I felt for these children coupled with the desire to get in the car and drive as far away as possible.
Not because I didn’t love them or want to care for them. But because I was trying to escape from myself, from the situation I was in. I was trying to escape from the never ending thoughts that were going through my mind. It’s as if my mind couldn’t and wouldn’t stop working.
But I quickly learned that where ever I went my thoughts went too. There was no escape!
The constant questioning and self-doubt about the decisions I was making as a mother was also very tiring. Many days I didn’t know if what I was feeling were my true feelings or just a result of sheer exhaustion… The antidepressants made me feel like a zombie, going through the motions of day to day life. Feeling things on one hand but not feeling them on the other. It was another internal conflict.
Anxiety was also a huge issue for me. Having never experienced anxiety attacks before I found these debilitating to the extent that I didn’t want to leave the house.
I still to this day have not managed to pin point any trigger for these attacks. They would come on at random times throughout the day and usually take me totally by surprise. Another symptom of PND that I had no idea about until I started experiencing it. The worse times for me to get the anxiety attacks were when I was driving, I’ve had to stop the car quite a few times and wait for it to pass. Even if I wasn’t particularly anxious about anything I would still get these strong bouts of anxiety without warning. It was as if my mind wasn’t linked to my physical being and I had no control over any of it.
Pretending to be ok whilst feeling all of these things is also very hard. I have since learnt that by pretending I was ok whilst feeling horrendous was further confusing my already imbalanced brain.
Here I was stuck in a no win situation. Trapped in a vicious cycle of battling my own thoughts and feelings on a daily basis with no end in sight.
I constantly searched for ideas to break this relentless cycle. A way to stop the ride and get off, find a different road to get onto and travel away from this.
With no ideas, no maps, no sat nav. I was lost with only my own thoughts as company.
This was going to be a long, journey. There was no ‘final destination’ so I had no idea how long this journey would take. No idea how many wrong turns I would take and no idea how many break downs were ahead when running so low on fuel.
I am still not ‘there’ yet.
My journey continues.
Twists, turns, unexpected setbacks. I still have many miles to travel and although it is going to be rough ride. I’m ready to ride it. I feel confident that I will get off at the end feeling stronger as a mother and a person. I am very determined about this.