My journey through Postnatal Depression and Anxiety
Written by Melissa Lowe, Nutrition & Epigenetics Health Coach - The Thrive Guide
I had suffered with severe PMS symptoms for many years. For two weeks of the month my hormones took control – angry, tearful, sensitive, insensitive, anti-social etc. Then once my period arrive, normal programming would resume.
Fast forward to my 30’s and my husband and I had our first child.
I left my job to become a stay at home mum, but after a while, the cracks began to show. Being the first of my friends to have a child, I started to feel quite isolated in my baby-mama world, almost like I was on the outside of an environment I was no longer part of.
In time, my baby started sleeping through the night, but that’s when my own sleep became an issue. I started waking in the night for his feed time, but would realise he hadn’t woken me up, I had woken myself up.
I began crying a lot for no reason, not understanding why I was so upset. What reason did I have to feel so sad?
Then one night, I just didn’t go to sleep. I watched the morning arrive and realised that I hadn’t slept at all. That’s when I knew things had gone horribly wrong. I got on the phone and rang my parents and said “I need help”.
Mum took me to the doctors and I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression. I was put on antidepressants. However, over time anxiety started to set in. I felt like I didn’t know how to take care of my baby. I struggled to eat and due to this, my breast milk dried up. I couldn’t even feed my baby.
Silly things would cause me to become anxious, like chopping a carrot or hanging out the washing. Socialising was out of the question. I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to be a mum anymore. Sleep continued to be an issue and I developed bouts of insomnia.
The doctors ended up referring me to Maternal Mental Health for further help.
Through the wonderful team of experts there, I started to turn a corner. I took a class in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and learned how to recognise my thoughts and examine them in a logical way, so that I could gain control of my emotions.
I began to recognise anxious feelings as soon as they started and to stop what I was doing and walk away. I incorporated diaphragmatic breathing to bring about calm. I had to keep the light at the end of the tunnel in mind to know that I would get through this moment.
I also lowered the expectations that I had put on myself. I was a good mum. No one was going to judge me and I shouldn’t judge myself.
Plus, I needed to be okay asking for help. Friends and family actually wanted to help me so I had to accept that whether I thought I need it or not.
Examining what I was putting into my body became important too, lowering caffeine, sugar and processed foods and eating more real foods from nature.
Eventually, things began to improve. My anxiety lessened, my sleep normalised and much of the time I had control over how I thought and how I felt. Even though it was a tough journey to go through, in some strange way I appreciate it because it taught me so much about myself and how to handle my emotions.
Post Natal Depression and anxiety are hard, but much of the time, there is a way through it.
Melissa Lowe is a Nutrition & Epigenetics Health Coach who helps to guide women to love their body, gain energy & balance their hormones
Book in for a complimentary 30-minute ‘All About You’ session with Melissa at www.thethriveguide.co.nz