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The Ghost of Me (A Haunting Tale of Postnatal Depression)

1
October 2011

The night of Halloween has descended. I’m in a far away land, riding a bus in my temporary home – Hong Kong. The air is thick with humidity and I can’t catch my breath. I focus on the ethereal blackened smog that has settled over the Island.  My son is screaming, my right sandal has broken and the elastic from my maxi dress has just snapped, exposing my left breast that begins to ooze with milk, blood and lingering mastitis.

Humiliated, I scuttle off the bus with my aching breast and self-doubt haunts me.  The sky darkens to an

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2
inky hue and I can already taste the rain as the anxiety pricks my skin.  My self-esteem  plummets to undiscovered depths, and the devil that is PND takes permanent root on my shoulder; effortlessly and seductively whispering negative thoughts into my vulnerable ear:

“You’re a terrible mother”.
”Your baby never stops crying”.
“You can’t even breastfeed properly that’s why he doesn’t sleep”.
“Look at the state of you, you’re a disgrace like the mess in the apartment”.
“ You can’t even make a cup of tea or

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3
work the steriliser”.
“STOP CRYING, it’s pathetic”.

Relief floods my trembling body as I open the door to my apartment. I’ve avoided the rain, my boy is safe and for a split second all is well. Beams from the moonlight shine on his angelic face and I’m bewitched by his beauty as it delicately touches my pained heart.  We lay cocooned, and I drift into a fractured dreamless sleep, alongside the spectre of PND as it wraps its tentacles around me.
October 2018
With Halloween approaching this year, it occurred to me how PND can feel

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4
 like a ‘haunting’ that invades the very core of us.  Seven years on, I at times still feel the ripples of my PND episode.

I would like to share some personal advice that helped me through the worst times, and will be drawing on the research from the wonderful psychologist, Professor Richard M Clark. Clark is a huge advocate of providing woman with easy access to psychological therapies whilst in the throes of PND.

Most importantly,  I want the advice offered below, to cement the fact that YOU ARE NOT ALONE:

Talk about it, and talk

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5
about it some more.  If you’re not ready to talk to professionals, talk to your most trusted friends and family.
Recognising and exploring your mental emotional pain takes great courage.  Admitting “mummy isn’t well” is one of the bravest things you will ever do.
Write this phrase 3x on a post it note;  put it on your bathroom mirror and say it every time you look in the mirror:  

I am a good mother
I am a good mother
I am a good mother

Chat to the other exhausted mum you’ve seen in Costa with a baby the same age, you

SelfishMother.com
6
may just find a new friend.
You’ll find comfort in the website: www.pandasfoundation.org.uk
Be your own biggest champion, talk to yourself as if you would your best friend.
Be so very kind to yourself.  This will help quieten the self-doubt haunting your thoughts.

Mental health services in the UK have been cut to the bone. Policy makers and governments have let woman down. I’m currently arming myself with enough research to become a PND ‘champion’; giving those mums in emotional pain a voice . The time is ripe for a radical rethink

SelfishMother.com
7
as PND affects so many of us. As our friend Professor Clark clearly asserts it is “morally right” that women are provided with therapy, and the central challenge for the 21st century NHS is to provide help quickly.  I for one, will be in his corner fighting for that.

If you are in the clutches of a PND episode, please hold on to the fact that it is temporary, and you will break free from its downward spiral.

You’re yet to see the film sequel to your own PND haunting, but I predict it will be something along the lines of:
“Returning to

SelfishMother.com
8
myself and  gradually leaving the haunting behind with a little  help from therapy, excellent friends and prosecco.”
Be Kind to yourself,

Bec x

 

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- 24 Oct 18

October 2011

The night of Halloween has descended. I’m in a far away land, riding a bus in my temporary home – Hong Kong. The air is thick with humidity and I can’t catch my breath. I focus on the ethereal blackened smog that has settled over the Island.  My son is screaming, my right sandal has broken and the elastic from my maxi dress has just snapped, exposing my left breast that begins to ooze with milk, blood and lingering mastitis.

Humiliated, I scuttle off the bus with my aching breast and self-doubt haunts me.  The sky darkens to an inky hue and I can already taste the rain as the anxiety pricks my skin.  My self-esteem  plummets to undiscovered depths, and the devil that is PND takes permanent root on my shoulder; effortlessly and seductively whispering negative thoughts into my vulnerable ear:

  • “You’re a terrible mother”.
  • “Your baby never stops crying”.
  • “You can’t even breastfeed properly that’s why he doesn’t sleep”.
  • “Look at the state of you, you’re a disgrace like the mess in the apartment”.
  • “ You can’t even make a cup of tea or work the steriliser”.
  • “STOP CRYING, it’s pathetic”.

Relief floods my trembling body as I open the door to my apartment. I’ve avoided the rain, my boy is safe and for a split second all is well. Beams from the moonlight shine on his angelic face and I’m bewitched by his beauty as it delicately touches my pained heart.  We lay cocooned, and I drift into a fractured dreamless sleep, alongside the spectre of PND as it wraps its tentacles around me.

October 2018

With Halloween approaching this year, it occurred to me how PND can feel  like a ‘haunting’ that invades the very core of us.  Seven years on, I at times still feel the ripples of my PND episode.

I would like to share some personal advice that helped me through the worst times, and will be drawing on the research from the wonderful psychologist, Professor Richard M Clark. Clark is a huge advocate of providing woman with easy access to psychological therapies whilst in the throes of PND.

Most importantly,  I want the advice offered below, to cement the fact that YOU ARE NOT ALONE:

  • Talk about it, and talk about it some more.  If you’re not ready to talk to professionals, talk to your most trusted friends and family.
  • Recognising and exploring your mental emotional pain takes great courage.  Admitting “mummy isn’t well” is one of the bravest things you will ever do.
  • Write this phrase 3x on a post it note;  put it on your bathroom mirror and say it every time you look in the mirror:  

I am a good mother

I am a good mother

I am a good mother

  • Chat to the other exhausted mum you’ve seen in Costa with a baby the same age, you may just find a new friend.
  • You’ll find comfort in the website: www.pandasfoundation.org.uk
  • Be your own biggest champion, talk to yourself as if you would your best friend.
  • Be so very kind to yourself.  This will help quieten the self-doubt haunting your thoughts.

Mental health services in the UK have been cut to the bone. Policy makers and governments have let woman down. I’m currently arming myself with enough research to become a PND ‘champion’; giving those mums in emotional pain a voice . The time is ripe for a radical rethink as PND affects so many of us. As our friend Professor Clark clearly asserts it is “morally right” that women are provided with therapy, and the central challenge for the 21st century NHS is to provide help quickly.  I for one, will be in his corner fighting for that.

If you are in the clutches of a PND episode, please hold on to the fact that it is temporary, and you will break free from its downward spiral.

You’re yet to see the film sequel to your own PND haunting, but I predict it will be something along the lines of:

Returning to myself and  gradually leaving the haunting behind with a little  help from therapy, excellent friends and prosecco.”

Be Kind to yourself,

Bec x

 

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Mum to Zachary; Idealist; belief in humanity; Graduate in Psychology; trainee Psychotherapist (specialising in woman's mental health), aspiring freelance writer with a passion in understanding what modern feminism means for mothers, and finally....... a Prosecco opener extraordinaire!

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