Hi I’m Meg
I’m in my mid-late 30s and I am divorced with two children – my son is 6 and my daughter is 4. I have a purebred staffy and a rescue tabby cat. My partner and his daughter complete us.
I’m an outdoorsy person, and have a passion and obsession with photography. Second to winning the lotto to be able to afford to get into the property market, I would love to be able to make a living from taking and sharing my photos. I studied town planning at uni, and I work in the city. I am on a self-imposed social media ban, I love good coffee and I am a PND survivor.
It took 3 precious years from my life, ripped my family apart, caused havoc with my extended family and friends, and opened my eyes to the real world of mental illness. I was forced to face my vulnerabilities, accept help, and re-examine the set of beliefs that I was brought up with…
My second baby was born when my son (clingy, helicopter parented, sleeping issues) was 23 months. I was still on extended leave from my job and I had sworn black and blue that I was going to be a stay at home mum. Daycare? Snot, kids whose parents couldn’t care less, might as well leave him on the side of the road and see how he goes. My children would get 100% attention and the best of care with me.
I had experienced anxiety during my pregnancy, dealing with beforementioned toddler, morning sickness, etc. After my daughter was born, the struggle of splitting attention between the two of them (why so needy????) was simply mission impossible. I would end up on the floor patting my toddler to try to get him to sleep while breastfeeding my daughter to keep her from crying and waking him back up. Because during both pregnancies I had broken the golden rule of googling any issue big or small; I knew about PND and by 6 weeks postpartum, I was pretty darn sure I ticked all of the boxes. It took days to get up the courage to muster those little words to both my husband and my Mum “I think I have PND”.. Pretty sure I gave myself some sort of anxiety disorder just thinking about it. (Or so google suggested) SIDENOTE Google also told me that the term used is cyberchondria. Its an illness. Guilty as charged.
The GP, who was gentle, kind, scored me an A+ in the Edinburgh Postnatal Scale Test, sent me on my way to the chemist for some antidepressants (safe for breastfeeding), and gave me a referral to a psychiatrist.
From here my memory is sketchy. My psych would increase, swap, combine different medications every few weeks to see if I could find a spark. My arms were speckled with bruises from blood tests, my face and waistline bloated from mostly weight gaining side effects of the drugs as well as my lack of motivation to move & my Bridget-Jones-esque comfort eating. . Deciding to ignore advice about avoiding huge life changes while suffering PND, we moved house from Brisbane to the Gold Coast to be closer to the children’s father’s work. I cyber-researched other ways to deal with PND (PND+Brisbane+help) and came across the Brisbane Centre for Postnatal Disorders (BCPND) which was run out of a private hospital (Belmont) on the eastside. I got my psych to arrange a referral and I joined a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) course with other PND sufferers. I found it strangely comforting to know that I wasn’t alone and that what I had was an ILLNESS. I didn’t do this… it wasn’t my fault. Run by a caring psychologist, she gently suggested that I be admitted to their Mother and Baby unit to try to get round the clock treatment and attention… this kind of shocked me, and my knee-jerk reaction was to decline.
After 4 more therapy classes, I realised I seriously needed help. 12 months had now passed since my daughter had been born. I was at my lowest of lows. My daughter and I didn’t even bother heading home from therapy, we walked down a corridor from a therapy room to an admission room to a private room with a bathroom, single bed, desk, window. This would be our home for the next 4 weeks..
I loved being in the Unit. I could SLEEP! The nurses kept watch of the babies in a separate nursery at night. I ate regular, healthy meals. I participated in daily therapy sessions. I interacted with other mothers going through mental health issues. It wasn’t just me. I connected with others, and realised the full extent of PND – everyone had a different story and different situation. By the end of the four weeks I felt rested, my daughter was sleeping, and I was ready to accept help – including daycare.
Days, weeks, months passed... Everything about my life felt toxic and negative. I had nothing left in me. I moved out. I found an affordable rental only a few minutes from the family home, still on the Gold Coast, and for months tried to adjust to life with children only part of the time.
But that black cloud followed me everywhere I went. I struggled to find a balance of quality time with the kids and settle into the community. I felt trapped with nothing left.
But that black cloud followed me everywhere I went. So for the next 3 months, hospital was my home. The kids, family and friends came to visit regularly. After 3 years of experimenting with every medication combination under the sun, something started to work. I started smiling. I exercised daily. I lost some weight put on from previous medications. I started making friends. I attended regular therapy sessions and started planning my return to my work – which had been put on hold for 5 years. I came to the realisation that I needed to move back to Brisbane to be close to my family, friends, medical specialists/hospital, and workplace. This was an incredibly difficult decision (moving 40mins away from the children and their lives) but the only hope I had of a full recovery.
I found a cute 3 bedroom cottage close to the city. I returned to work, reconnected with old friends and made new friends. While lonely during the week without my children while they attended school and kindy, I gradually grew back some confidence in parenting my children on weekends. I enjoyed work. I socialised and met my forever partner.
For the last 12 months, most days I am happy. My relationship with my kids is better than ever and we openly talk about how Mummy had a sore head and had to go to hospital. We talk about our worries and that its ok to make mistakes!
There will always be bad days. But I know that I am over the worst and I’ve got things to look forward to.
So much shade has been thrown my way by other mums, colleagues, ex-friends and family about my decision to move away from my children as well as my “issues”.
I have glossed over a lot of the gory stuff retelling my story, but it came down to me facing two options – be a sick and helpless mother, physically living with my kids but emotionally not being there; or move away for proper medical and family support, not see the kids as much BUT work on a full recovery to provide them with a chance of a happy mumma bear. I initially thought that in order to be the best parent that I could be, that I should choose Option 1. But over time and over a better understanding and worsening of my illness, I changed to Option 2.
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I am a PND survivor. It took 3 precious years from my life, ripped my family apart, caused havoc with my extended family and friends, and opened my eyes to the real world of mental illness.
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