I’m a very bubbly person on the outside… and not so much on the inside… I’ve been through a lot in my life. More than most people I’ll come across in life will ever know. Some however, I’m willing to openly share, but not all the hard hitting details… and others, I don’t like to talk about at all.
The people at work for example – most of them will only ever see bubbly me. I work in operating theatres as a nurse practitioner. A few days ago I was working alongside a new person to our team, a gay man whom over the course of the few weeks he’d been with us – we’d gotten on extremely well. We’d been chatting about every which thing but this guy didn’t know much about ME at all. When, during a conversation, I commented about having had post-natal depression in the past – then that I’d had it ante-natally too what an exclamation of shock I got from him, with the statement “I’d NEVER have expected YOU to have had that”. I get this a lot.
It did however get me thinking about the whole experience, and what others think of it, and of me. You see, they see bubbly me… the me that talks non-stop and is quite loud and nutty! They don’t see someone that’s lived through dark times… thinking things that still make her feel guilty. They don’t see the me that still hasn’t bonded with her son that will turn 8 years old later on this year.
Yes – EIGHT years, and we don’t have “that” bond. That maternal bond – you know that famous mother-child bond that’s always being talked about… well that’s how it feels to me. Maybe I just notice it because I’m jealous that I’ve never had it… that this special bond was deprived from me because of the illnesses.
Back during the post-natal depression (PND) times, I shared my inner thoughts and feelings with people on forums – but not to the extreme… there was always a fear of having my son removed from my care – something that’s a common thought during PND (so I found out eventually). One of these forums I posted on was a post-natal depression support forum. There were ladies there that had PND before, and they would tell me “Don’t worry… the bond will come.” However now more than ever I’m thinking “WHEN?!” I’m starting to feel that they lied to get us with the PND through the darkness. Through the darkness you need a light. This was mine. That one day I’d be free from the PND and that my son and I would have this bond. That kind of bond that makes your heart ACHE for them. I don’t have that. It’s not something I feel I can blurt out in conversations either… I’ve told a few people however I don’t like the responses or looks I get when I’ve told them. Some look with utmost PITY, others look at me like I’m some sort of freak – that I can’t love my child then. I do love my son. I just don’t FEEL like a Mother… and I don’t feel that closeness that I should. It certainly doesn’t mean I don’t love him, nor does it mean I’m a freak. Not bonding… it’s more common than people realise. It was something talked about frequently on the PND forum I used.
I’m more than happy to tell people I’ve struggled through post-natal depression and ante-natal depression. I’m eager for this to not be a taboo subject – people shouldn’t battle through these in silence. It should be able to be talked about freely. If there is a conversation about mental health issues or something else relevant, I’ll happily share that I am a survivor of these. It can happen to ANYONE. No matter if they are a younger/older Mother, if they’re prettier/smarter/more loving/more outgoing or if they look like the world’s best parent… it can strike them, or could’ve struck them in the past. As I mentioned earlier, the reply is most often the reply I got from my new colleague I mentioned earlier. I hope I’m helping to break down these views that someone bubbly and friendly, can’t have suffered from a mental health illness. Every little helps… Tesco (supermarket chain) who have this as their motto have a lot to answer for! It’s a fitting slogan for many situations in life.
However, I still feel the shame in not having the bond with my child that I feel I should. On one hand I want to spread the word about PND and ante-natal depression, but I just can’t quite bring it to apply to the bonding issue… it’s something that’s still too raw and upsetting to me. I’ll share about it online more though. I don’t fear breaking down in tears like I do if I talk face to face with someone about it. I don’t fear the pity looks….
I can but try and hope that one day it will come… certainly as he is getting older, and more communicable I think I feel more like a Mother than I ever have before. Maybe one day it WILL come… until then I’m just going to keep loving my child, providing for my child, and ENJOYING my child and the love we share.