Why it's okay to NOT be okay
Rebekah Hoeft calls on mamas everywhere to break the taboos of not talking about post natal depression (PND) and raise their voices.
There’s a ridiculous idea that becoming a mum means you should be super-happy all the time. You’re lucky enough to have a beautiful new baby – what have you got to be sad about?
However, many women experience feelings of almost unshakable sadness or sorrow. Those feelings can become so deep-rooted that the more you leave them unaddressed, the worse they become.
Sadly, many of us do leave those feelings unaddressed. The fear of others knowing you have those feelings clouds your better judgment and you say nothing to anyone. You feel guilty and ashamed, and you’re simply unable to rationalise why.
Postnatal depression (PND) can affect anyone and it’s by no means a reflection of you, or your parenting. It’s really important to remember, this is not YOU and this is not forever.
It needs to be made clear that it is OKAY to NOT be okay.
If you allow yourself to be open to that, then more of us will feel comfortable addressing the fact that we’re not coping and need the support and strength of someone to help pull us through to the light.
I’m fortunate to have four beautiful and healthy children, but that’s not to say that the road was smooth getting here. I miscarried, and suffered a lot of physical and emotional trauma in the events that followed the miscarriage. I then conceived again and had a very traumatic birth leaving me with
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which I didn’t address. I felt a sense of guilt because, here I was, lucky to be alive and how dare I feel sad? But I did feel sad, and when I got pregnant with my fourth child, an overwhelming sense of fear also consumed me. I was terrified. I struggled, I cried - I cried a lot - I felt blank and I felt guilty. I felt guilty because I was so fortunate to be pregnant and I here I was feeling depressed.
The thought of labour left me mentally paralysed and I had an unshakable fear that I would not love or bond with my baby. That fear consumed my every thought but I kept it hidden out of shame, until it began to take over. Finally I reached out for help. I spoke to my husband, my midwife and then my GP. My midwife gave me the details for a natural healer. I was hesitant to go to a natural healer at first but I had nothing to lose. I met her - and fell apart like a house of cards. I cried and spoke about things I’d held hidden. She helped me learn how to cope, how to acknowledge my feelings, and how to move forward.
When my labour began I was scared I would die, but my biggest fear was not bonding with my baby. Luckily when I saw her my heart melted and I fell in love, so deeply. The bond we shared in that moment was unlike my others because I knew, despite how awful I felt throughout my pregnancy, she loved me too. She reassured me and began to fill me with hope. I knew not every day would be perfect, but I knew we could do it together.
There have been moments when I could feel the dark cloud of PND looming, trying to take hold. But in my daughter’s eyes I see hope and happiness like nothing else, and I cling to it. Break the taboo mamas and raise your voices.
Awareness of PND has been crucial in my path to self-love, healing and happiness. The biggest step forward is reaching out and opening up to someone you trust, whether it is your partner, a friend or a doctor. Reassure yourself that you will get through this, be kind to yourself, take time to breathe and remember, it’s okay to not be okay.
Rebekah Hoeft is a mama to Mokoiah, David, Madeline and Delilah. She shares her experiences on her Facebook page SimplySix, and hopes to provide useful information, support, a good read or at least some comic relief!