How much PND do you think is a rational reaction to awful circumstances?(60 Posts)
This is a thread about a thread really, but I didn't want to hijack a very supportive thread (or, worse, find I posted some thoughts and no-one replied!).
There's a thread in parenting (here) which started as a thread about how parenting affects mental health. I posted on there because I do struggle with parenting a small child, but increasingly I started to feel a fraud because (a) I only have one, albeit a demanding one and (b) a lot of the women on that thread aren't only struggling with parenting, they're suppressing enormous (and justified) rage and resentment against partners who simply aren't pulling their weight.
Clearly PND is a real illness and where it exists needs to be treated, but isn't it rational to feel pretty damn depressed if you're sleep deprived, isolated from adult company, spending 24 hours a day with a tiny infant who can't respond to you yet, and not getting support or understanding from your partner? I wondered, reading that thread, whether PND is overdiagnosed because it's easier and cheaper to dish out pills than to provide actual real support.
The other point that really struck me about reading that thread is how little you have to do to be regarded by the world as a perfectly adequate father. If most women opted out of the bits of parenting they don't like as easily as some men do, there'd be a whole generation of starving and neglected children and there would rightly be an outcry. But the men who behave like this get away with it. How? And how can we change that?
Oh BTW I found my care, during birth with DD1 from midwife, and subsequently from another organisation I sought help from to be fucking appalling.
I would advise anyone who asked to steer clear of those types and if they are struggling see their GP, who IME have more common sense and less "I will report you and They will Take your baby" vibe.
When I had baby no 1 27 yrs ago I stayed in hospital for five days, had help with bf, visitors were limited and people left you in peace when you went home.
Similar story with the subsequent four.
Fast forward to dc5 now 2. I had a section, (major surgery btw) had two nights in hospital with endless exhausting visitors. Had to literally "fall out" with pil who thoujght they would be staying for the weekend despite being told no several times so my first night home was a total nightmare with people only wanting what's best for them, no regard for me or baby.
I ended up very angry, bitter and depressed.
I feel that there is this pressure on us to sail through pregnancy and birth never admitting you might be tired or in pain. Women telling competitive takes of giving birth and being at the school gates two hrs later or back to work in a week. Selfish relatives who just want to muscle in with no thought for us and husbands and partners not having an inkling of what their partner is going through because they've heard all the super mum stories too.
I feel that is where the rot sets in and women feel that they have to soldier on bearing the brunt of it all with no complaint.
Men go back to their normal lives pursuing hobbies and careers while many women put all that on ice.
Sleep deprived mothers doing it all as " the menz" need their sleep for their important jobs or kick off if woken.
Women being asked to breast feed in train toilets or to leave restaurants if the baby is crying. Being tutted at when pushing a buggy or trying to get on a bus.
Need I go on?
So gps can carry on dishing out pills but until we demand and get some respect for having and raising children nothing will change.
RL got rather demanding for two or three days and loads of people have posted since I last looked! Some very good points above. I agree that treatment / understanding of mental illness generally is shockingly bad, but I was focused particularly on over-diagnosis of mental health problems in women who are having a natural reaction to life being suddenly awful at a time when the world is telling them they're supposed to be overwhelmingly happy. Which is not to say that there are no women who don't have genuine mental health issues triggered by pregnancy and birth, because of course there are. But personally, if I were a HV and someone was clearly struggling and very low and had an unsupportive partner, I'd assume general exhaustion and entirely rational misery before I jumped to the conclusion that she must have PND.
NiceTabard, I notice that you say that your partner does stuff when asked, which means that there's a whole area of domestic labour that you're doing and your partner is not, namely thinking and planning what needs to be done - which is something a lot of us don't even think of as work, because we do it automatically. If you haven't read Wifework, do.
I was also focused on women who do have a partner in the picture, at least notionally, and why we as a society give those partners a free pass to be crap in a way we just don't for women. The issues for women who choose from the beginning to be lone parents are different, although a lot of the wider points about lack of support from health services and society more generally will still apply (particularly some of ledkr's points about lack of respect for the work of bringing up children).
working9while5, I'm so sorry. Your experiences sound appalling.
So gps can carry on dishing out pills but until we demand and get some respect for having and raising children nothing will change. I needed to read something like this tonight, that is exactly it and it fits every situation, good, bad or no partner.
I think this is an excellent question OP, ir gets tight to the heart of how women are perceived and treated.
I agree that poor mental health can be a sane response to an insane society, or a stressful situation.
For example, anorexia is the mist logical thing a young girl can do, when she is told daily by society 'We will value you if you see thin'.
A woman who is used to having a career, independence, travel etc can experience being stuck at home with a tiny baby as massively stressful and miserable. Women in times gone by or in other cultures now raise babies in big extended families with grandparents and aunts and uncles sharing the load. The isolation of the nuclear family is something new.
By the way I post as an ardent feminist who is currently taking anti depressants for PND.
I am minded of 50s housewives who were given valium to soothe their stifled boredom!
I am fortunate in that my local council is also supplying me with a 12 week course of CBT which is really helping.
If you think about it, the indicators for PND are all based on situation, therefore making it obvious that it is at least partly caused by circumstances not just hormones. So a cure should address both.
I had awful ante-natal depression. As I was pregnant I couldn't be given pills but the community mental health care worker was at my house within 24 hours.ALL she spoke about were the circumstances and how these make people feel and how to work through that. It helped a lot, and if I had spoken up sooner I am sure would have been fantastic.
Amazingly, giving birth was a miracle cure. But then it also cured the morning sickness other things which contributed to my misery.
So could have been hormonal, situational, or both.
Showing respect for the patient and listening to them should surely be the first step, before deciding whether counseling or medication (or both) are needed.
If you look at the campaign for better postnatal care stories (over in Campaigns - can't link at the moment) there are some real horrors which would take a lot to get over. There also seems to be a cultural problem of infantilising mothers - it's not universal, but when I compare my experience of back surgery (for example) and subsequent aftercare with my experience of childbirth, they're poles apart.
When I had back surgery, I wasn't told that I 'just wasn't effective at keeping my spine healthy' - but somehow it was ok to say 'we just can't labour effectively, can we?' when I had an emergency C-section.
If I said 'my back really hurts' after back surgery, that was taken pretty much at face value. Where 'I'm having very strong contractions' was met with a laugh and a 'you don't know what strong contractions are, you first-time mums! You just can't take a little discomfort - try breathing!'
I don't think anyone ever told me that my physiotherapy exercises were supposed to be the most beautiful experience any woman could have, and that I was somehow betraying the spinal-surgery sisterhood or that it was simply 'something I was DOING WRONG' if I admitted to finding them painful. Unlike breastfeeding.
Etc. Suddenly the adult who has been treated like a fairly competent, sentient person all this time gets told she isn't doing anything right, she shouldn't trust her instincts and most of all that she's abnormal if she doesn't find every second of it the most magical and fantastic thing she's ever done.
I think the shock of that was the real trigger for my PND. It was a shock and a relief at the same time when I went back to work and was treated like a real person again.
Completely agree op.Actually on first baby the dr told me that my reason for feeling so low was the fact that my partner was so unsupportive.Silly me for thinking things would be different second time round.Can't believe the amount of posts I see with women saying their partner deserves to go off for an afternoon playing sport as they have such a stressful job.Mumsnet has really opened my eyes.I used to think I'd love to be a SAHM but I'm so glad now that I have a job and a career that I can return to.Its so sad to see women who are indebted to their husbands and who feel privileged.Women who are completely taken advantage of because they are seen to be on some sort of extended holiday.Of course that's going to affect your mental health.
My paternal grandmother spent years as an inpatient with PND. I think 4 years at one point when DF was a teenager. Her psychiatrist told her once that her problem was that she was essentially handling an extra child - her husband. The moment he died, she was on the road to recovery. He was abusing the children, which came out years later.
I had "PND" after DC1, when I had birth trauma, back to work at 6 weeks (I was a student and had already missed 6 months due to HG,) first full time career job when I graduated when DC1 was 6 months old. I was EBF. I was also away from family, had no friends with children and extremely poor (couldn't get MA as a student, couldn't get student loan as on long term sick, just a nightmare.)
XH will tell people my mental ill health ruined our marriage. I've been completely fine since I left him. He wasn't the worst, but I had all the responsibility. As a single parent, I have been the most well I have been in 10 years. Lost weight, doing the things I love, still poor, but that's my life choices so I'm not too worried.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.