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Post Natal Depression & Social Anxiety

Yesterday evening I was supposed to be going out to meet old friends and hopefully make new ones. I had planned to do this for a month, I was excited and planned an outfit, I was taking baby Humphrey along but it was still a night out. Yet I did not go out I sat here writing this post. I woke up in the morning and immediately had a panic, a physical feeling in the pit of my stomach. I then played out 1000 scenarios for the evening and started to feel uncomfortable in my own skin. The day drew on I was talking on the phone arranging the conference, sounding pretty confident, sending out emails, going about my day but still this feeling remained in the pit of my stomach. As time ticked on the sweating started. Then I started to make excuses to myself; Sebastian will be upset if I go out, I have too much work to do, I will get tired. Whilst all of those things are true they are not the reason I stayed away, I stayed away because I was scared.
Trying to explain social anxiety to someone who has not had it is pretty near to impossible because all of their responses will be logical and the fear is illogical. Nothing really bad will happen. No probably not. If someone is mean to you it is not the end of the world, also true, and yet the fear is crippling.
I have mental health issues, I have written about them in the past so with Sebastian we were on high alert for PND, it never came, I was the happiest I had ever been in my life before or since. During my pregnancy with Humphrey the flag went up again and we were pretty confident that all would be well but it wasn’t. The second night that Humphrey was in the world Sebastian woke up, as he always does and Joe had to go in and I couldn’t go in as I was feeding and I thought silently to myself “this is your fault Humphrey you are keeping me from my child”. As soon as I thought it I burst out crying and felt guilty and spent the next 3 hours staring at him, knowing I loved him but I did not feel the same way as I did on day 2 of Sebastian. So I kept staring willing the exact same emotion to transpire. Feeling increasingly guilty when it did not and fearful of the “what you don’t love your baby comments” or the looks as others would tell me they felt the same way about all of their children. But in fact all of these conversations and subsequent judgements took place in the theatre of my mind.
I cannot think straight I have 2 completely different brains, one is saying of course it is different this time get a grip. You have health and work worries that you did not have last time let it go lady. Yet the brain that is in charge, the irrational one does not take note of any of that.
So why have I lumped social anxiety in with PND they are two entirely different things, that is true, but for me one has prevented me talking about the other. Looking back I have always suffered from social anxiety and there will be people who know me personally who will think yeah right, there may even be readers who think hmmm you put yourself out there a lot I am not buying this social anxiety thing. So there are nuances to it and it is different for everyone but mine manifests in a number of ways.
When I was younger, and a little bit now, but less so I was super loud. If I am loud and flamboyant no one will know I am in fact shitting myself and have zero confidence in who I am. If people react badly to this no worries I will just get louder, bigger, more flamboyant, bordering on obnoxious. If I am a character that is fine, presenting at events, TV, in the workplace all fine because I am protected by the role, not as raw as here I am, please be my friend.
Many people say they lose confidence when they have children, forget who they were but I get out more now because I will force myself to do anything for my children. A singing group, messy play, forest school if they are enjoying it I will go, I will make an effort with other parents as that will impact on my child but meeting up with a parent as a friend outside of those confines and I am shitting myself again.
All of these feelings that I have lived with my entire life all of a sudden have a further impact because your friends are the ones who you need to tell. How do you talk about something as humiliating as PND when you are scared to be social. Situations I am normally okay with I am scared of and it is because I know I have an elephant in the room that I want to talk about but can’t, until now. Oh the beauty of online the ability to open up behind a safety curtain.
It is easy to hide because I know all the right moves and what I should be saying so I keep saying them I am just uncertain as to their validity. Also the fact that there is a common misconception that PND or in fact depression means you are sitting down sad all the time helps you hide the fact you are drowning in it.
So here is the promise I made tonight I am breaking the silence and if I am judged for it so be it you couldn’t possibly have a lower opinion of me than I have of myself right now.
This is what I know;
  • I love Sebastian
  • I love Humphrey
  • I will never harm either of my children
  • I wanted to have both of my children
We were so on top of reading books to Sebastian and preparing him for the new addition to our family yet those feelings of resentment of my time with Sebastian are my own. So I have to make those points my mantra when I have doubts and carry on.
This post is not my usual recipe/interiors/craft but this blog has always been an extension of me and maybe by more of us saying look actually I am crap at this it will bring comfort to someone else. So here goes. I am crap at this, life is kicking my ass daily and I am not inspirational or a hero or even a great person I am poo most of the time and I suppose I am okay with that.
July 14, 2017


1 Comment

  1. Reply

    Rachel Lucie Johns

    July 21, 2017

    Thank you for writing this, Nicolette. When exactly was it that you took up residence in my brain and had all the same thoughts and feelings I have struggled with?! You have laid it out better than I ever could have.

    I want you to add something else to your list: • I am doing an awesome job, regardless of how it feels to me like I am doing