Behind Jennifer's Mind
Context: November 2014
I’ve been a Mammy to my beautiful son for six months now.
I thought I was deficient in Iron as I felt something was ‘missing’ in me.
My parents and my in-laws knew something was up, but no one actually came out and said it to me.
My husband was asking me to go to the Doctor, but I just didn’t. I still don’t know if this was because I felt something was wrong and was avoiding it or if I genuinely felt ok.
My negative self-talk and overthinking were so normal to me that I just thought this was motherhood.
November 27th, 2014 - The Day
On this day, my son was getting his vaccines and I was in with the Nurse. I think she asked me how I was feeling, but to be honest the memory is foggy. I just remember breaking down in floods of tears to a complete stranger. (This is probably the last time I’ve cried since then). She was very kind and made an appointment for me to see a Doctor I had never been to before. It turned out she would be a great Doctor for me and I am still seeing her. Afterwards, I went up to my in-laws' house and just stood in the sitting room and cried. And through my gulping tears, I just said to my Father In-law that I don’t understand what is wrong. All I knew was that I felt this overwhelming feeling of sadness in my chest and it was so heavy and powerful that I couldn’t feel anything else. It wasn’t something I had felt before, but it would be a feeling that would become all-too familiar to me; and one I would recognize again when I had my second son three years later. So that is the day I broke down and started to fix things, to try to understand and to get better.
Now I would like to go back to earlier, when my son was a newborn; when there were, in retrospect, lots of signs that I was drowning and needed help.
June 6th, 2014
When my son was seven days old I cried at 7.45 pm (the time he was born). I remember my husband holding me as I cried about the fact that he was growing up too fast, that time was passing by too quickly. However, even as I type this, I don’t think these were the real reasons for my tears. I think I just cried and because I didn’t know why I was crying, I think I just looked for a reason. This is something I would continue to do for another six months.
When my son was nine weeks old, we attended a family gathering. I remember putting on my pre-pregnancy jeans and feeling really slim and thinking ‘yeah Jennifer, you’re back to normal, look at you, you look great, you wouldn’t think you only had a baby nine weeks ago’. However, the rest of the day is a haze to me, but one aspect I do remember is how difficult it was for me to relax. I remember my husband was trying to care for our son and allow me to talk and have a glass of wine, but I was following him around. I remember when he went to get something from the car, I followed him and stood next to him so my body was touching his, like a puppy or something like that. I just felt like an open wound, I didn’t know who I was, what I was thinking or feeling. I felt fragile and vulnerable and uncertain and all together not good. When we came home, I locked myself into the bathroom for thirty minutes and I think I cried, but to be honest I can’t be sure. When I came out I don’t know what happened next, but I know I got dressed and went out with my husband because my parents were taking our son to give us a little break. All of this was abnormal, unbalanced behaviour for me and I should have realized something was seriously wrong, yet it still took another four months and an emotional breakdown in the nurses’ office before I made an appointment with the Doctor.
December 4th, 2014
After a long conversation with the Doctor, I started medication, and after another four weeks I started to feel a little better. I had begun counselling and by February, I felt stronger and more like myself again and I returned to work that April. Fast forward another twelve months or so, I slowly and with the help of my Doctor came off the medication.
I don’t know why it took me till November to get help, when there were profound moments that told me I was not ok and that this was not what motherhood was all about, but for some reason I didn’t see it. If I was doing it all again, knowing what I know now, I would say to myself, "If you feel low for two weeks or more, go to the Doctor, Jennifer."