19/01/2018 by Emily Tredget
Last week I asked the lovely mamas in my Facebook group “What do you wish more people understood about PND?” I was surprised at how many responses I got, and wanted to share them. From mums who want to help bust the myths of postnatal depression and to end the stigma.
Why it’s so important for mums to speak out to bust PND myths
I want to share what mums had to say so that any other new mums struggling out there can take strength and courage from their words. So that any family or friend supporting someone with PND can understand them more fully. Because both the sufferer, and those caring around them need to understand what PND is. Without the sufferer realising what they are fighting they often won’t get help. And without those around them understanding as best they can, the sufferer may feel judged or uncared for.
Below are the responses I received. Some are quite similar, but I wanted to share different mums’ ways of putting it with the hope that it would resonate with many mums struggling currently.
“What do you wish more people understood about PND to bust the myths?”
Here are some of the myths about postnatal depression mums want people to know and the reality they want more to understand:
What PND looks and feels like:
- It presents itself differently in people, and you can experience it more than once.
- I wish that I understood I had it earlier.
- I wish I knew I was not alone and that PND is so common
- Just because it looks like you are coping and you keep telling everyone you are fine doesn’t mean you are.
- For some of us its more about anxiety as opposed to feeling down.
- Mine was stress and just feeling down rather than anything more sinister, but it’s still very isolating, especially when there seem to be no support groups you can just drop in to. That was all I needed really, plus practical help. Drugs and CBT were on offer but were completely not what I needed! And I wasn’t asked what I would’ve found helpful.
- It’s not just feelings of sadness….it can be feelings of anger/sadness too. And present in many different symptoms. Oh and it’s not just straight after your baby is born, it can come on later.
- It doesn’t only happen immediately after baby is born and sometimes can build up over a few months.
- There is hope and recovery from PND but anti depressants shouldn’t be the first port of call for doctors. I know for me mine was caused by chronic insomnia not just sleepless nights with a new baby. I physically couldn’t sleep at any time even for 30 mins over a period of 18 weeks.
The myths surrounding PND that we need to bust:
- That it’s an illness that isn’t your fault. And that needing meds isn’t a negative thing.
- I wish more people understood the difference between ‘baby blues’ and PND and weren’t so quick to dismiss feelings of PND as ‘normal’.
- That it’s an illness not a weakness.
- That it’s a real illness and that we aren’t making it up because we are too tired.
- That you can still appear to be functioning normally and looking after your baby well.
- However under the surface things are not OK- and you are not making it up.
- That getting more sleep is a quick fix – it goes deeper than that.
- It’s OK to have PND. It’s not a disease, it’s not catching, and it’s OK, in fact more than OK to talk about it. Don’t be embarrassed, just talk. It really, really helps.
We have lots of support, advice and places to go to seek support in the PND section of our blog.
Pandas Foundation is a wonderful first port of call.