This is a post I wrote ages ago on another blog. I have updated a few things but feel it works well just as it was. Enjoy!
After I had my son, Daniel, I suffered from very severe post natal depression. I’ve never really talked about it, until now and feels that finally it needs to be out there.
Having a toddler and being pregnant is not easy, any mum can tell you that. I have suffered from ‘not understanding my feelings’ and ‘feeling low’ for most of my life so being in that manic place where Anisha was a mad toddler, full of life, the house being a mess and not being able to move because I had an almost 10lb baby (with arthritis in my hips) was tough for me.
Then there were added bonuses. My husband was away for weeks at a time (thank God for my mother in law!) Then it got really pear shaped. My dad’s older brother died. I was in not physically able to attend but of course there were repercussions for not showing support to the family.
Then my cousin at 18 was in a car accident and died. His funeral was on the day Dan was born. Now I wasn’t very close to my cousin but I was heart broken and again, physically couldn’t attend the funeral. There were so many mixed feelings of joy of having Dan, loss in the family and the general world turning upside down introducing a baby to a household.
Ok…THEN (yes, it gets better!) my Grandma died. I did attend her funeral but only part of it because Dan would not take a bottle and I was breastfeeding him at the time. By then there were not many talking to me so I’m not sure if it was frowned upon not to attend the whole funeral but my son and his feeding had to come first.
It was so tough for all the family to go through so many deaths and everyone was mourning in their own way. I was again so confused with all my feelings and the family reaction to me.
Then my husband was made redundant, my best friend moved to another country, I was not happy with my body image and size, the house needed decorating, I was studying with the open university…
And the list goes on…
Anyway, long story short, I disappeared. I was there, looking after the kids, cooking etc but I was a shell. I was so good at putting on a mask maybe that’s why the health visitor didn’t pick up on it? (But what is with those stupid questionnaires to determine if you are suffering from depression???)
I don’t remember so much of what happened in Dan’s early life and to this day I feel guilty and am working through it. I think this will be a constant battle as I blame myself for a lot. Bless him, he tells me not to worry because I make up for it now! (Maybe not when I’m telling him to tidy his bedroom though!)
I am thankful that at least I was obsessed enough to take lots of photos of him growing up. At first I couldn’t really look at the photos because I had very strong mixed emotional reactions. Through time though I kept looking at them and when I had a reaction, I looked at why. Only one emotion at a time mind, otherwise it would be too overwhelming.
I don’t remember the first time he crawled, or walked and I do feel like a bad mum for it. I don’t feel I was there enough for him, that Anisha helped raise him (he actually used to call her little mummy). I don’t know if these are normal second child worries or if it was because of my state of mind.
Looking over and over the photos has helped me realise that it was simply life, yes some very bad things happened and time has helped heal but most of it was just the usual roller coaster we all have when kids are little. Time goes so much faster, I was more exhausted, I was juggling more, doing more and Dan did grow up fast trying to keep up with this sister. Dan was no angel either, always getting messy, eating snails and poisonous berries from the garden, escaping out the house, calling 999, that list goes on too… Dan was just a boy – again something else I got my head around. He was just a boy and I wasn’t being a bad mum.
The photos have helped me have good memories of when he was little. He was a good eater, sleeper, chilled, cheeky and full of life and very loving. I look back and see that they had a happy childhood even though I was ill.
The photos helped me to forgive myself.
The photos help me to see that when things get bad, to just hold on and hang in there because the bad time will pass.
This is quite an extreme case but it does work for any situation, no matter how small. If you feel unhappy about a time in your life, look back on the photos (remember to take loads!) and re-see what happened. Appreciate the whole picture, see things the way others did and work through your emotions.
Photos are so important in life, capturing moments, freezing a point in time and yes we look at them and think the usual ‘we were so young’, ‘how much time has passed’ but we can use them for so much more.
Look back at your old photos and see how far you’ve come and I promise you, looking back helps you learn, heal and move forward.
Healing through photos is something I am working towards. Get in touch if this is something you would like to try and we can work through it together. I’d love to hear from you!