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Postnatal depression vs "not coping"

(29 Posts)
Apparentlychilled Mon 10-Jun-13 10:17:05

Hi all

I had PND with both DC (was on ADs for 6 months with DS (20 months) but not DD, who is 4.5). My PIL are nice people but utterly clueless (eg apparently I have nothing to be depressed about and I should just have been grateful for what I have. Hmm, like it's that easy). Since having DS, PIL have repeatedly said they think we shouldn't have any more DC as I "can't cope". Actually, I can. I was sick and I got medical and practical help. Not from PIL, mind you (which is fine, that's their choice, but my point is that it's not like I've ruined their lives by imposing on them).

I'm now pg with DC3. DH has made a few comments about me "not coping" third time round esp as my due date is around his busiest time of year, so after paternity leave he will be working long hours. I've pointed out that I feel really judged by his choice of words, and that PND does not equal not coping- it's an illness.

I'm apprehensive of telling PIL about this baby - I really don't want to hear about how I won't be able to cope, so I've told DH he has to tell them by himself and also that they have to button it.

I spoke to a friend who pointed out that most new mums struggle with a newborn- they're lovely but hard work and that it does pass.

I guess I feel pretty vulnerable about all this. My family are chuff all use by way of support, so it's a matter of me looking after myself.

Anyone got any words of wisdom for when people say having PND means you can't cope?

purrpurr Mon 10-Jun-13 12:04:18

I wonder whether it would work if you could work on your own reaction to being told you can't cope by people who seem rather ignorant. Clearly the problem is their lack of knowledge, their attitude. It seems to me that if you can readjust your response to their comments, then it won't matter what they say. When they say this stuff about not coping, do you say to yourself, it's ok, they don't know enough about PND to understand, that is not my problem, I know I can cope, OR do you say to yourself, oh god, they don't think I'm a fit parent, why would they say that, I've worked hard to get through the PND and to get better, don't they give a shit at all? Etc etc. If it's the latter, it would really help if you could stop their remarks from 'getting in' as it were. Protect yourself first, you can't educate some folk, they're just ignorant.

Apparentlychilled Mon 10-Jun-13 12:26:45

Hmm, I think you've hit the nail on the head purrpurr- I do feel hurt that they don't get how hard I've worked and that I am doing my best. And I do fear that I'm a rubbish mother (not least because my own mother is utterly rubbish and one of my greatest fears has always been that I'll turn into her, though we're actually not that alike). And I guess it hurts that DH appears to be one of those who doesn't get it, despite how much I've tried to teach him about PND. It's weird, he's very supportive in a practical sense, and has always said that even if it happened 2nd time (it did) and if it happens next time, we'll get though it and we'll all be OK. But then he ruins it by not seeming to appreciate it's a real illness (and not just me being a bit of a lame arse).

Apparentlychilled Mon 10-Jun-13 13:06:16

And I guess I'm not very compassionate towards myself or accepting of the fact that I was ill (rather than just being crap).

purrpurr Mon 10-Jun-13 13:14:02

I really feel for you here, because overcoming something like PND successfully, twice (!), should be acknowledged by your husband and family without you feeling like it's lip service or that they don't really get it. I'm surprised that your DH appears to not quite get it - is it possible he's picked up the language your PIL are using (which sounds like gaslighting by the way) but doesn't mean it in the same way as the PIL?

I think you need to ignore your PIL like it's a full time occupation, and focus on talking to your DH so you can be reassured that he does know PND is a real illness and that he will support you if needs be. He's the important support source here.

Also, I think the sign of a good mum is one who worries she is not a good mum - I don't think the crap ones care.

SickOfYourShit Mon 10-Jun-13 13:19:15

Pnd is a physical condition. It's not a self pitying state of mind.

Your pil sound ignorant and your dh needs a bit of educating about it. Just because you've had it previously doesn't mean you will definitely have it again. Also, you know the symptoms now and know help is readily available should you need it.

Everyone will have an opinion about a pregnancy regardless of the situation. I would ignore the comments completely and work on getting your dh to understand pnd.

Congratulations btw, and good luck

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Mon 10-Jun-13 13:19:59

PND and mental illness generally still have such a stigma attached don't they.

First things first, I doubt very much you are anything like an utterly rubbish mother. I think it is a very big and brave decision to have another child knowing you might have to suffer PND again so well done for that.

I think people who have never had to deal with depression or a mental health issue really just don't get it.

Regarding your inlaws, there is just no teaching some people. As purrpurr said, if you can try to not "let them into your head" you will be much better off.

However regarding your DH, I do think you should try to help/make him understand, even if it's just getting him to use different language rather than "not coping". I found "ill" or "unwell" type of wording acceptable, or "having a hard/tough time".

My therapist used a very helpful analogy - would people have said you were "not coping" because you had a broken leg rather than PND? That might help put things into perspective.

Good luck OP.

Apparentlychilled Mon 10-Jun-13 13:30:58

I think it's just that my husband and his family have almost no emotional language- all very stoic and practical. He's a really good guy and has learnt over the years that I come with more feelings and need than his family (and given that it took us 10 years to get married, he knew what he was getting into with me!), and he's good at practical support and love/hugs/reassurance. He's just not that good at verbalising his feelings, so I think you're right that he's kind of picked up and misused his parents' language.

Maybe they are gaslighting... To be honest, it more feels like it's such an alien idea to them that they just totally and utterly don't understand it. I think they'd understand it more if I was abducted by aliens.

His family 100% don't get it. And to be honest, mine don't either (though they come from the other end of the spectrum where it's all drama and chaos).

I've told him repeatedly over the last few days how unimpressed I am by his choice of words, and that though I'm higher risk than average for PND third time round, there are things which can contribute to it such as lack of support during pregnancy and post natally. So basically, he needs to get his shit together, for me and our DC.

And I think I have to let go of my idea that his mum is the kind of mum I "should" be (even though we're chalk and cheese and it would drive me insane to live my life like hers).

purrpurr Mon 10-Jun-13 13:33:39

Oh and I would agree OP, please be kinder to yourself. A hell of a lot kinder, by the sounds of things. flowers

purrpurr Mon 10-Jun-13 13:38:43

Sorry cross posted. What do you mean, his mum is the kind of mum you should be? Do you feel like you're not good enough? At the risk of sounding like a great big block of cheese, the kind of mum you should be is the mum you already are.

Apparentlychilled Mon 10-Jun-13 13:40:17

Sorry, just caught up on posts. And thank you all so much. DH was told (reminded) yesterday again that this was an illness, and not me being lame. I think maybe it's less scary for him to call it not coping, but for me it feels very judgmental (and I've told him so, repeatedly in the last week since I got my bfp).

You're all right- I need to focus on not attaching any weight to PIL's views. They're nice people, we're just so different and on totally different wave lengths. I accept they love my DC and (almost by obligation) love me, but they don't understand me, and they never will. I guess that because my mum doesn't either (because she's so very self absorbed), I always want that kind of support. I guess the reality is that for me, I don't get that in life. I have lots of other great things in my life- (usually) great DH, great DC, lovely friends. Just not great parental figures (though to be fair my dad is being pretty supportive after nearly 40 years of being totally crap!).

And yep, PND seems to have so much stigma. And I feel like I;m the fool who was open about having it- like I've talked about our sex life.

I've made an appointment to see my lovely GP tomorrow to talk about the whole PND thing and I saw my therapist last week to talk about it too. And I'm having anor scan next week (due to a prev ectopic I'm having more scans than usual), so at least I'm being well looked after.

Thank you all for your support- one of my abiding memories of PND last time was feeling so isolated, and I guess I fear that for next time, so thank you.

Apparentlychilled Mon 10-Jun-13 13:46:23

His mum is a really really traditional mum- makes everyone cakes for birthdays, takes her MIL shopping every week (even when she had temporarily broken up w her husband), enjoys ironing, is very domesticated, was happy spending 24/7 w her kids, even when they were tiny and (whisper it- a bit dull). She apparently puts everyone else first, though personally I think she enjoys feeling needed.

I'm none of those things. I'm enjoying my DC now far more than when they were teeny (4.5 and 20 months) and I'd love if I could fast forward 18 months till no3 is 9months or so. I like time to myself, without DC and I want to work (MIL didn't work after children till they were in school and I think is kind of horrified by me spending £ on retraining and having childcare as a result). DH has spoken to her about all of this before and she's said she knows that she and I are just v diff and that that's fine. So I guess this is more about me judging myself. And I guess it's all still tied up w my feelings about my own mum, who was really disinterested in me and my siblings,and farmed us out as much as possible.

Apparentlychilled Mon 10-Jun-13 15:57:23

purrpurr that ("the kind of mum you should be is the mum you already are") is possibly the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me- thank you.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Mon 10-Jun-13 17:17:45

OP I'm sorry you felt so isolated last time. Hopefully you can keep posting here and get some support through MN! Actually scratch that - hopefully this time you won't have it and won't need to post!

I was pretty open about my PND (had to be, there were weeks days when I couldn't even get out of bed) but I still don't really deep down inside believe the one-in-ten statistic, because where the fuck is everybody else with it? I know a lot of people. I should therefore by definition know 10% of them with PND. But no - no one talks about it.

Sorry for the swearing but it's just so unfair. First you have this awful, crippling, debilitating illness, you miss out on any enjoyment of the first few months/years of your DC's life, and then you are judged for it and feel like you have to hide it! It sucks.

Apparentlychilled Mon 10-Jun-13 19:37:14

Thanks Hearts. And no apologies needed for swearing here- it IS so unfair. And I'm with you on wondering where all those other people are? Which just adds to my feeling that I'm the goon that talks about The Unmentionable PND (TM).

And yes, fingers crossed it won't happen this time, though I know where to find help and support if it does (inc here). I guess I need to sit and think through what I'd like this time, by way of support.

notcitrus Mon 10-Jun-13 20:59:09

Best wishes OP. I've been there with PND (thankfully just a few months with dc2), but was very worried about getting it with dc1, having had depression in the past. And then having physical difficulties that when added to everything did make it difficult to 'cope' - which I found was ignored so much there wasn't even a stigma, it simply wasn't believed. I had conversations with HCPs that went "Are you depressed?" "No. I'm exhausted so much I'm hallucinating, I'm in terrible pain, and I'm fucking miserable, but I'm not depressed." "Oh, that's all right then!"

Thing is, it doesn't really matter what the cause is, whether it's PND, other illness, or 'not coping' - you need to plan practical and emotional support, whatever will help you get through the difficult times with a baby. What support will help is so individual, but hopefully you have some baby groups, friends, maybe a trusted HV, a cleaner...

You've managed previously, you can do it again with wisdom from your first two times - in particular you now know not to look for help from parents, which has to be a great step forward.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Mon 10-Jun-13 21:40:22

I think we should change the acronym to FPND, just for fun like. Fucking Post Natal Depression has a nice ring to it, don't you think?


Apparentlychilled Mon 10-Jun-13 21:52:41

hearts grin - I like the way you think!

Tonight I just feel weary at the thought of having to plan what I'll need. Or even think about what it'll be like. Maybe I'll just decide to not think about it tonight. sad

Apparentlychilled Mon 10-Jun-13 21:53:28

Ps hearts- I often call it Bastarding PND.

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Mon 10-Jun-13 22:17:17

Bastarding is a good one.

How far along are you? I'm sure there's plenty of time for thinking and planning if you are still in the stages of not telling family yet. Baby steps and don't let yourself get overwhelmed! Concentrate on the nice stuff. Be kind to yourself. Eat lots of ice cream!

HeartsTrumpDiamonds Mon 10-Jun-13 22:18:22

Sorry for the bad pun (unintended) re baby steps grin

Apparentlychilled Tue 11-Jun-13 07:22:40

I think I'm 7 weeks so v v early days yet. Not that you'd know that to look at me- I swear I look 12 weeks pg already! Ah the joys of a 3rd pregnancy and having no stomach muscles left! Baggy tops are my friend for now.

And much ice cream (and toast) is being eaten (which may explain my tummy size!).

working9while5 Tue 11-Jun-13 08:47:16

I think in some ways, PND is "not coping", but there's no shame in that. It's not about not coping with being a mother usually, but not coping with being a mother with absolutely NO support, kindness or empathy when you find you have nothing but a child (or children) and the four walls to look at all day and no one you feel you can be open and honest with about your feelings. It wasn't like this "back in the day" when women walked out with their prams assured of meeting a friendly face, or even a face that would at least know who the hell they are and have been. No human being is really supposed to spend a year virtually devoid of adult company, sleep and leisure at a time of huge transition while the rest of the world gets on with it. Lots have to though, not just those with PND but sometimes those who have suffered bereavement or whose children have been diagnosed with special needs or.. or.. or.. It is not a reflection on you, we just live in an age where we are expected to be blissfully happy when there was better discussion and awareness of how draining life with kids can be instead of this pretense that everyone is always calm and blissful and surrounded by like-minded friends with a wonderfully supportive partner assured of their lives following much the same path they had chosen but with the new addition of someone to love unconditionally who loves them unconditionally.

My ds2 is a year old next week and I would say I haven't "coped" well. Yet on the surface I have... I've been to weddings, taken them solo to Ireland on a ferry, played with them, fed them, bathed them. Inside however, there have been times when I've felt like I am submerged underwater, everything cloudy and muffled and choking.

"Coping" is loaded, no doubt, but they are only defending themselves from the idea it has anything to do with them or the society we live in: it's easier to think it's something within the woman when actually if you ask me for many mothers now, it's pretty much an occupational health issue due to poor working conditions.

working9while5 Tue 11-Jun-13 08:50:27

(and before anyone says, poor working conditions... we have so much privilege.. well yes, but depression as the book says is an equal opportunity mongrel and like it or lump it, we are immensely isolated in our society and a lot of the feelings of PND arise out of not feeling you SHOULD be feeling like this with everything you have going for you, because on paper you have it all. I am immensely grateful I have shelter and enough food to eat and clothes to wear and all the privileges I have... but that makes squit all difference when you are facing a sixth week alone with a screaming baby (or even a quiet one!), little sleep and too much time for your mind to go over and over things with no contact with anyone who can talk back).

Apparentlychilled Tue 11-Jun-13 15:55:51

Hi working. Thanks for your post. Sorry to hear you've had a tough time too. But I don't agree that PND= not coping. Because if it was just not coping, practical things that you mention (support at home, having someone to talk to, children who slept etc) would have saved me. And it didn't.

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