I’ve been tasked with making a blog. I can’t remember what I’ve been promised now I’ve succeeded with this mission, but if it’s not champagne for breakfast, then I won’t be happy.
For those who don’t know me I’m Eve.I’m a 34 yr old mum to a four year old boy. I have a husband who isn’t really my husband but we live together, have conjugal relations when we remember that’s what’s couples do and have an equal love for our child. I’ve just read over this and see I’ve declared myself 34. Which isn’t right. I’m definitely 33 .
I’ve had a fairly normal life. I spent my twenties living in a pub with a group of marines who spent the majority of their time sticking bits of their anatomy into the top of vodka bottles. I wandered around in a semi permanent Merlot daze for most of this time and once jumped over a kebab shop counter with my friend Catherine, put Mr kebab man’s hat on, sawed myself off some donor meat,fried myself some fries and ran out declaring my undying love for the 16 free chicken wings I had been allowed to run off to the sunset with.
And and then I met john. I say met, but I mean, became a couple. We sat opposite each other in work. He sent me a text one morning at 5am after dancing bare chested in a gay nightclub and being propositioned by a man called Sergio dressed as a sailor. He says it made him realise he loved me , even though Sergio seemed like a very nice fellow. The text read ‘ I think I love you’. He had me at ‘I’.
That was in 2006. Then in 2010, I gave birth to our little boy Joe. I discovered I’m a rare specimen in the medical world and I’ve been blessed with not one, but two wombs. Doctors loved me. I was prodded and poked by every medical student in London and by the time my c section came round,I don’t think there was a single person in the whole of East London who hadn’t seen my nether regions. All was wonderful in the world.
We didn’t know whether were having a boy or a girl. The first we learned of it was at the end of my c section when I felt a tug and saw a jet stream of wee flying over the consultant’s head. We heard those heartwarming words ‘he is pissing all over me’ and I turned to John and said, I think it’s a boy. I looked up to see a child screaming. He looked like he had a halo around him and I thought it was the second coming. John remarked that he looked like Jesus surrounded by a beacon of light.
And then we were wheeled out of theatre. My mum arrived and before she had even looked at Joe , she yelled ‘ what’s wrong with you Evelyn, you look glazed over’. I declared I was fine and went back to checking my facebook status. A few days later, after my c section scar unravelled, a meltdown in the gp’soffice where I lay on the floor in tears begging a nurse to take pity on me and the reality of owning a child who fed 57 hours a day and slept for precisely none of this time, I experienced my first feelings of psychosis. I looked at my duvet cover. It looked like it was dancing, the colours were changing . I asked John why he kept washing the bedclothes and changing things around. And then I wondered why I was totally utterly devastatingly afraid of my son. My own child. Terrified.
By the time Joe was three days old, I had decided I didn’t want him. Even worse, I felt trapped by his very presence. The reality that I was now a mum forever hit me in a catastrophic way. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of blue congratulation cards and would wake up feeling smothered. The terror of anxiety when I opened my eyes in the morning time is still a feeling that was so intense that I struggle to describe it.
I began to think I was floating in the corner of the room. I would wake up feeling as though I was in a coffin that was bolted down. I would spend ages staring at my mummy wardrobe of leggings and then struggle to put them on. And not even because my dough like stomach was in the way. It was because I couldn’t remember how to get dressed.
And then there was the day I trussed myself up a la Mary poppins. Neat bun piled on top of head,apron on , going wild with the antibacterial spray. I did hold back on singing to the birds but I don’t think I was far off climbing out of the window and letting out a crazed version of ‘the hills are alive’ . John came home to find me standing in the kitchen staring into space holding a frozen packet of stewing steak. I was muttering ‘ must make stew’ on repeat.
I couldn’t get anyone to take me seriously. At the point where I had started to think that death was the only way out of this world I was trapped in, a doctor told me unless I had planned my own suicide , I was ‘low risk’. To make me feel even better about my world crashing down around me , a family member said ‘ I know you feel like you’re going mad,but you look better than ever’. Wonderful, so I’m too terrified to be in the same room as my own child but I can rock a bikini for the first time in my life.
The day I was hospitalised in a psychiatric mother and baby unit came six weeks too late. I should have been in it from the day Joe was born. And we had to move from London to Nottingham to get a doctor to pay attention to me and accept that ‘putting some mascara on and making a nice Victoria sandwich’ was not going to stop me from feeling so terrified of Joe.
But then I went into the unit. And I started my recovery. I went on meds, my lips went blue,I met a woman who made coconut ice with vodka and spent her days sucking on it while trying to get me to break out of the unit to play bingo in Bradford, and I discovered that when you are in hospital, always order from the Caribbean or Indian menu. The food is amazing and I would highly recommend it.
The unit was wonderful. It took me a week to be in the same room as Joe. The night I closed my bedroom door and sat in my room on my own with Joe was the biggest turning point of my illness. I would never have thought , years before, that I would have to learn to be near my child and not feel fear. This was the greatest challenge of my life . And I was winning it.
And win it I did. It took a long time. I had blips. I phoned the crisis line and was spoken to by a nurse who said she would call me back once she had finished her pot noodle. Must have been from Waitrose (other supermarkets are available) as she never called me back. I had to endure nosey neighbours leap out in front of Joe’s buggy speaking to me in a vveeerryyyy sllllow vooiccceeee “Hel.lo Eve. Doing well aren’t you? Isn’t she Peter? Doing welllllllll”. I’d take Joe to baby groups to see Mavis telling Maureen ‘ Do u know she wanted to die?’ And see them elbow each other as I went past.
I had been told I was fine,that meds were wrong,that I was just tired. All these were wrong. Very wrong. I wasn’t fine, I took so many meds I could have made a shop full of rattles and even though my child didn’t seem to understand the concept of sleep and still doesn’t four years on,I was actually very very ill. I had postpartum psychosis and postnatal anxiety. I needed the meds to help my mind clear so I could focus on recovery. I could handle the blue lips if the meds stopped me from thinking the clouds were suffocating me and most if all, if they stopped me from fearing my own son.
Nearly five yrs on, I’m back to the old me. I’m a mum. A good mum, a happy mum. Joe and I share a love of noodles and chocolate and we are best mates. I do tire occasionally of having to pretend to be a green goblin superhero who destroys people with green farts but I like the sentiment behind it. He is definitely my son.
And now I’m doing what I can to raise awareness of mental health after having a baby. No one told me that it’s possible to feel like the world is crashing down around you to such an extent that you may feel like death is the only way out. But now I know it is possible and that it’s not just possible, but that you do recover. And can lead a happy life.
I’ve met some fab people over the last few months who I’m working with the create an awareness campaign for ante and postnatal mental health for mums and dads. Just because men don’t give birth through their bits, doesn’t meant hey can’t feel sad too.
You can and do get better xx