Thursday, November 17, 2011

Virginia's PND story

Meet Virginia - Virginia exercises with Body Beyond Baby and has wonderfully agreed to share her experience with PND - thank you Virginia.

My name is Virginia, I'm 38yo and Mum to Jake (6), Jesse (4) & Lili (20mo)

Coming from a strong blood line of women, depression was never something I thought would ever happen to me.  I grew up a happy, confident kid in Perth, always had lots of friends, did well at school and university, travelled the world, enjoyed a successful corporate career for many years and always worked hard to achieve my goals.  I was invincible (or so I thought), 3 kids........piece of cake!

For me, the warning signs started when my 3rd baby, Lili, was just a few months old, although looking book I'm fairly certain I had the same signs with my 2nd.  She, like the boys, was delivered by caesarean and I was over the moon that we finally had the coveted baby girl I always dreamed of.  Not long after the hormones settled down, reality kicked in and I was faced with having to juggle a newborn baby, a very strong-willed 3yo (not at all happy with his new sibling) & a 5yo just starting primary school. I'd wake up feeling utterly exhausted having been up all night breastfeeding or settling.....then having to pick myself up and pretend like everything was normal - packing lunches, getting 3 kids ready for the day and the dreaded morning drop offs in the pouring rain with baby on one hip, umbrella and school bags in one hand, little hands in the other. One morning it was raining so heavily, I slipped and fell into the gutter (luckily didn't drop the baby). Tears running down my face, completely drenched and not knowing which way was up or down, I managed to get up and get the boys to school and kindy safely (albeit saturated) and I spent the next hour or so howling in my car. What happened to my life? What have I become?

Next came feelings of being completely overwhelmed, a failure, alone and resentful, anxiety attacks, frequent crying and feeling completely unsatisfied in life.  My coping mechanisms had hit rock bottom.  With my own family and close friends in Perth, I didn't have a strong support network to begin with and started to withdraw from social circles because it was just all too hard.  I was cranky with my husband, short fused with the kids and behaving like a complete maniac only I didn't have the power to stop.  I thought to myself "pick yourself up Virginia, plenty of women have walked in your shoes, you can do this" but I soon realised these feelings weren't going away and something had to change.

My obstetrician suggested I talk to someone, which I did, and was shortly thereafter diagnosed with PND. I was gutted and relieved at the same time, but at least I knew what was going on in my head. After a few sessions I soon realised that like most women, I was (and still am) constantly placing unrealistic pressure on myself to do everything, be everything to everyone and all the while being polite with a smile on my face! I had to start making some changes in my life and start learning to be kinder to myself. So I started scheduling in some "me" time - diairising events with friends and date nights with the husband, got myself a cleaner and started exercising again.

Whilst many of my friends were falling prey to PND and the medication route, for me, exercise was the first and natural choice as I'd always been heavily into sports growing up and never had the time to get back into it with kids.  I am so grateful I stumbled across Jen Dugard's BBB through a friend because it has been my saving grace, literally.   Not only is it cheaper than therapy (much!), but it also alleviated the stress of trying to find a babysitter via BBB's nanny service.  I now exercise daily (3 weekly sessions with BBB) and pleased to say I am not only feeling the best I've felt in years, but I've also regained my self confidence and wake up in the morning with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.  There is nothing quite like the feeling of a natural endorphin high and I am proud to say my PND days are behind me.  Rocking a pair of killer heels and skinny jeans has never been more enjoyable:)

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