We had a wonderful time for Father’s Day this weekend. My own lovely Dad was able to visit after being double-vaccinated and the six of us just spent time talking, laughing and of course, eating. Paul was able to just relax on Sunday and watch the Euro Cup, eat great cheese and enjoy being with family. He deserves this time because every day he works hard at being the best parent and husband he can be.
The severity of my post-natal depression was a huge challenge in Paul’s life as well as my own. It wasn’t as if we knew straight away what it was or in what ways it would change me and us. Looking back I know the exact moment when I knew something was wrong but the full affect of the change in my chemical balance would not be known for another 15 months. In that time Paul read everything he could find to understand what was happening to me and most amazingly he sought out information to understand his own feelings and reactions. By the time I hit rock bottom, Paul was rock steady and has been my ultimate support as the post-natal depression morphed into PTSD.
Being a partner to someone experiencing post-natal depression is often overlooked and there are very few support mechanisms in place for them. It’s an enormous job and I know that Paul’s unwavering love and support have been crucial to my recovery. Of course every relationship dynamic is different but these are the things that meant the most to me during post-natal depression:
- My partner never assumed that everything I said and did was just the depression. He still saw me as an individual, not just the disease and took my opinion seriously as his partner.
- My partner gave me time, never rushing me, or expecting me to get better, simply supporting each step that was, and is, necessary to get help and get better.
- My partner found the humour. I didn’t laugh much during the worst of my PND but having a partner who could make me smile whenever possible meant the world to me.
- My partner kept other people at bay. Not everyone understood what was happening to me or knew what to say and so wherever possible Paul took calls or ran errands so that I didn’t have to use my depleted energy to deal with unhelpful comments or situations.
- My partner gave me space. Taking the children out for an hour or two was crucial for me.
I have been so lucky to have a partner capable of supporting me and knowing there are thousands of women managing PND without any support breaks my heart. If you are managing PND, with or without support, I hope you can believe that things can get better. Reaching out for support and asking for help is the greatest strength and means your tomorrows can be easier than today.