This week is Post and Pre Natal Depression and Anxiety awareness week. You can read more about PANDAS here
When someone you love or know is struggling with post natal or pre natal depression or anxiety, it can be hard to understand what is going on inside their head, and why they are struggling. It can be frustration and frightening to watch someone you know go from being a happy, normal, healthy person to one struggling with the dark and difficult things that PPA, PND and PPND can be. I totally get that. I know for my family and friends, seeing me so mentally unwell and not coping, was probably the hardest of times. You may not know what to say or do, and even when you try, you may feel you aren’t helping or you aren’t getting anywhere.
I get it. I do. This post is not going to give you answers to that, but I can tell you that you aren’t alone in feeling that way.
What I will say, as someone who has struggled with both post natal depression and anxiety, is that whatever you say to someone with PPD, PPND or PND, the one thing not to say is
“YOU need to JUST GET OVER IT”
The thing is, we can’t. We can’t just wake up one morning, and shake off the fear, the anxiety, the terror, the overwhelming feeling that the world would be better of without you, the thought that you are broken and unfixable and the fear that you will never feel normal again. We cannot switch just switch that off. It comes on gradually, it sneaks up on us like an evil tide, and for us to get better, and to walk our way back to normality, we need time, appropriate support from qualified mental health professionals, some of us need medication, and we need our friends and family around us not to judge us, but try and be patient as we fight.
When you tell someone with PND, PPND and PPA to “just get over it” you may as well be punching them hard, in the gut, because frankly, that is about as effective. It doesn’t help, it doesn’t motivate us or pep talk us into suddenly being well again and frankly it just makes us feel worse, and we don’t need that, at all.
So, please, think before you speak. Whatever you feel inside, however frustrated and worried you are, don’t say it.
My name is Karen, and I am proud to say that I am fighting and winning the battle against anxiety and post partum depression. I will shout loudly for those around me suffering and I will never stop sharing.
I am not broken.