My church minister, the Right Honourable Reverend Heidi, asked why I chose to blog about my battle with depression. Mainly, because there is a dearth of honest accounts by sufferers. Post natal depression is a common affliction, affecting more than one in every 10 women within a year of giving birth.
And yet, every single one of my facebook friends, who gave birth around the same time as me, seem to lead a picture perfect life. Their photos show gleaming smiles, perfectly put together outfits and lavendar moments. And for a long time, being bombarded with images of what motherhood “should” look like, I fell short. Admittedly, my own facebook account, until recently, only showed the positive side of my motherhood journey. But this is why I’m writing this blog. To be honest. Honest with myself and honest with the world.
My depression is markedly different from how any of the other 1 in 10 experience it. For instance, I have an unexplainable fear of, and fear for, my baby girl. She represents anxiety for me. And inadequacy. I’m afraid of making, what everyone says is, inevitable mistakes. What if I can’t comfort her when she’s sad? What if she slips out of my hands? What if I fall on her, after tripping, while wearing her in the wrap? What if…? I obsess over these thoughts, break into a cold sweat as my mind rakes through the worst case scenario.
The therapy has helped me to clarify these thoughts, sift through them and reject and replace them with positive affirmations. “All I need is within me now”. “I am enough”. “I am the best mommy for my baby girl”. “I am doing my best”. “I am ok”. This is a constant process and I have to be super vigilant so that I don’t fall into familiar traps.
Depression is isolating and I am so grateful I found help. I saw an article titled “The ten signs of concealed depression”. Isn’t all depression concealed? Hidden? Swept under the carpet?! Like all mental illnesses, it’s stigmatised and largely misunderstood. If you’re reading this and any of this resonates with you, please know you do not have to suffer in silence. You could contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group on their 24 hour hotline 0800 12 13 14.