Up until last month, I honestly believed that PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was something that soldiers suffered with after witnessing scenes of bloodshed, losing friends or being in a highly stressful or violent situation. Well, how small minded was I!
If you have ever read a previous post that I have written Why I’m terrified of having another baby, then you would know I had a pretty tough time during labour and in the days after. I honestly thought there was something wrong with me. I have bonded just fine with my baby girl, she is such a strong independent little girl and so clever as well!! It is the one thing in my life that I have actually got right. But when I am alone with my thoughts, I start to overthink things, when my partner starts putting the moves on me, I will argue with him on purpose, or pretend to be really tired. Because the truth is, I really don’t want him near me!
When we decide that “tonight is the night” and little one is fast asleep, the fear kicks in. When we go to bed and I close my eyes, and he starts touching me, the flashbacks flood me, of the day I was in labour, of an overtired doctor and his platoon of midwives crowding around me, of the sharp pain of the needles sticking in to me and the slow torture of the sutures going in. During that brief moment, I tense up, I taste nothing but salt in my mouth and i begin sweating buckets. Thats when I know I have to stop. I can’t go any further.
I know if I let my partner near me, then I have to put myself through the flashbacks all over again. My partner is a saint, I don’t know how he puts up with me sometimes. This makes the guilt flood over me every single night. It had really began to affect our relationship, he would find any excuse to spend more time outside with the sheep or the cows, because he was scared of another argument (which would be over anything and everything) I had become a dab hand at teasing out any excuse to argue with him.
It all came to a head for me when my partner and I were arguing non stop. I felt so alone, because he was avoiding me, which was another reason to start an argument and I had just started a new job following years of being miserable at my previous job An Open Letter To My Boss. I felt like everything was spiralling out of control. I was alone, vulnerable and lacking any kind of control of my own life, of my feelings, thoughts and even my own body. I was so angry with myself and I felt so stupid.
During my daughter’s 15 month check up with the health visitor, it all came out. I had held everything in for 15 whole months!! I was in floods of tears! I was terrified of telling anyone these feelings in case they took my baby off me!! (Yes, this is how paranoid I had become) But somehow, she understood, she knew exactly what was wrong.
She told me that I was suffering with PTSD combined with anxiety from leaving these feelings fester for so long. It was something that happens more often than people think, but it isn’t something that people aren’t made aware of. She made an appointment to have a debrief at the hospital straight away, but she said that was only a small step in helping me to feel better. I have also been referred for counselling to help me cope with when that dark veil comes down.
Many women have been through tougher births than I did, I know quite a few. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t affect me. Birthing a baby is different for everyone. And I urge any reader who has similar feelings to not compare themselves to others. Do not feel stupid about it. You feel how you feel, and it is important to speak out, even if it is years down the line. It is important that people become aware of what can happen. It is not something to be ashamed of and it doesn’t mean that you aren’t coping as a mother. I have a long way to go yet, but just talking about it made me feel this sudden urge of relief. One day I will feel ready to have another child, but right now, I know that i need to help myself and my relationship.
If anyone feels like they need to talk, do not be afraid to get in touch.