Illustration of depression
When I was presented with this story, I wanted to deliver this set of images to illustrate the feelings of the writer in this piece and portray the deeply personal battle with anxiety and depression.
My photography style is usually very light and has a positive feel, mainly because I capture the happy times in people's lives, but during a wonderful event, there can be another side to a story, as you can see in this piece written by 'anonymous author' below.
Depression can manifest in many forms, from anger to sadness, hopelessness to pain. I was unfortunate to experience PND which is a form of depression brought on by post-pregnancy hormones. I was told what PND looked like from someone else who had experienced it, but my feelings and thoughts were nothing like what I was told, everybody's battle is different, so it took over a year to realise I was suffering.
An amazing, life changing event, something you will never forget, that moment your first born child is given to you, to protect and love with your whole being, your mind, body and soul. So much emotion and the realisation that those 9 months of waiting have passed, it's here, the day you and your whole world have been waiting for. Everyone wants to help, fuss and bring you and your baby gifts, coo at him and hold his little hand. But I didn't want people to take my baby away! My first overwhelmed fearful thought was that he would be gone soon... I didn't know what I meant by that? Was I judging my ability to look after and care for this precious gift? Was I expecting the worst from life? Was it that in the back of my mind I knew life passes too quickly and my baby was growing and developing faster than I ever imagined he would?
I thought the worst all the time and more than anything wanted to keep my baby safe, I didn't want anyone to hold him, touch him or even look at him.
After the flurry of excitement was over, my mind started to think, negative thoughts, worrying about things that hadn't happened. Re-visiting events, where I wish I had done something better.
I felt empty inside, nothing was fun, nothing made me laugh. I tried to think of happy things, something to look forward to in my new life with my new family. Nothing.
The emptiness consumed me. My sense of self had left, I was a drone, a machine to merely activate and carry out duties. Not allowed to sleep, not allowed to feel, not allowed to look forward to anything.
I lost myself, I had no feelings, other than sadness. But my baby was so amazing, he was beautiful and cute and cuddly and the only thing that kept me busy.
But soon leaving the house was a struggle, my confidence had hit rock bottom, I saw no one, went no where, became scared of bumping into anyone in case they asked me any questions about anything interesting. I was a Mum now, nothing more, nothing less.
My fear of letting my little man down was becoming encapsulating. I didn't want to drive my car, what if I get stuck in traffic and baby needs a feed? What if I go the wrong way? What if I can't find a parking space? So many questions overwhelmed me, that just leaving the house was a huge hurdle and I avoided it at all costs. I felt trapped.
Trapped in my own home, but craving company. But scared of company and fixated on my duty as a Mother, I was not a nice person to be around. No interest in anything, other than my baby and how well I was doing, comparing myself to other Mums, who popped to the shop or took baby to the library.
Why couldn't I do this? Because I was useless! Useless! Useless! Useless!
I couldn't drive, I couldn't talk, I couldn't be happy, I couldn't be a good Mum, I couldn't be me.
What have I done? I made the wrong decision to be a Mum, I have ruined myself.
I used to be strong, outgoing, full of fun and life... cue the tears, nope.... nothing!
My downward spiral made my husband think I didn't love him anymore, made him think I didn't appreciate anything we did together, I couldn't appreciate anything, feeling sad, empty and fearful of everything is so difficult to deal with, especially when you are being asked what is wrong and you just don't know! You have no reason to be sad, you have been blessed, a perfect baby, a loving husband, a warm comfortable home.
Almost a year had passed, my days were bleak and my life seemed to roll into one ground hog day film then at my baby's 11 month check the health visitor looked at my self-criticising, hopeless, negativity and told me I wasn't well. Following this appointment I got help, support and some medication.
After a few months, I started to feel like me again, the support and medication had finished, I began booking holidays, arranging days out with friends, contacting people I hadn't seen for a long time, re-kindling broken relationships and getting in the car to go places. I returned to work, began exercising and eating healthy. And after some failed attempts fell pregnant with baby number 2!
I didn't experience this again with my second pregnancy or in the time after, but I will never forget how dark and scary your mind can turn your world ~ anon
If you need help with anxiety or depression, please contact your GP immediately or you can visit www.depressionuk.org/national_links.shtml