Hello there! I’m Catherine. I’m the (wobbly) braun behind the PANDAS Guest Blog. It’s been suggested by our team that it would be interesting to have a regular feature, the tale of someone who’s been there, done that… and I volunteered!
I’m 30. I live in a town called Rugby. I play the cello and cross-stitch for money. I have a daughter, V, who is 2 years and 8 months old. I live with my fiance R. R has two children. L is 7 and M is 4 (nearly 5). L and M live with us part-time, 50/50. The rest of the time they live with their Mum who lives down the road. V’s Dad lives in a town called Tarlac with his wife and son, and we haven’t heard from him since January.
I was diagnosed with postnatal depression when V was about 6 months old. I was “spotted” by a Stop Smoking counsellor. I had started smoking, secretly, about two weeks after my daughter was born. Looking back, I now believe I was desperate to scrape back some of the life I had before. I remember hearing, so often, “Ooh, your life is turned upside down when you have a baby. Nothing will ever be the same.” I didn’t believe it until it happened. I started to miss small things like walking with my headphones in, music blaring. I missed smoking cigarettes and drinking red wine in my living room, listening to vinyls on my record player. I missed sleep. And then, before I knew it, there I was, standing outside in my dressing gown, baby sleeping in the kitchen, me with a fag in one hand and googling “New Mum helpline” on my phone with the other. How did this happen? How did I get here?
I arrived at my Stop Smoking appointment (my reminiscent habit had started to get out of control…) sweating, late, heart pounding. V was screaming and clawing at me to lift her out of her carry cot. I sat in the chair with my squirming child, I could feel the tears stinging the back of my eyes. (Don’t cry, don’t cry). She asked the dreaded question, “Is everything okay?”
And that was that. I crumbled. And I said the words out loud. “I just can’t cope”.
I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t been “spotted” by that lady. I’d love to try and find her one day to say thank you. My GP called me that afternoon, and made an appointment with me for the following morning. It’s a long road, one that I’m still trawling along, but I believe my recovery process began when being “spotted” prompted me in to saying what I’d been feeling. I couldn’t cope with my new baby and I needed help.