Sponsored by Bupa Australia.
My husband, Matthew is a problem solver. He is a project manager and is responsible for millions of dollars’ worth of contracts, hundreds of employees and working-around potentially expensive mistakes.
When Matt couldn’t fix my postnatal depression he felt helpless, not a familiar feeling for a bloke like him. Not only was I difficult to live with at the time but I was so absorbed in my own struggle that I was unable to see just how much my pain was tearing him up inside.
Women who experience postnatal depression (PND) need a lot of support, that’s a given. But I think we need to acknowledge what the partners go through as well. Dads and partners also live with the illness and can even experience PND themselves.
I spent most of my time and energy trying to look like a normal, joyful mother while out in public but when my husband walked through the door at night I had nothing left for him. I couldn’t even pretend. He always had me at my absolute worst.
I snapped easily, my mood swings were unpredictable, and usually because Matt was the person in my firing line he copped all of it. And the resentment- oh the resentment!
In the early days I was jealous of his hour commute and lunch breaks (when he actually had time to take them) because at least he got to be alone or speak to adults.
One morning as he was leaving for work, I was feeding our daughter while crying my eyes out. He offered to make me a cup of tea and even though I would have liked one, I said, “No! Just go ahead and leave, just leave us!”
What a horrible thing for him to hear as he was preparing for a stressful day of work. Even writing about that morning makes my eyes misty. The poor guy was simply trying to show me how much he cared.
I’m well aware of my privilege. I have a supportive husband with a great job, I live in a beautiful house and we are comfortable. That’s the thing about PND though, unfortunately, it does not discriminate.
Something I heard at a postnatal depression talk will stick with me forever because I felt like the woman was speaking about me.
“Sometimes the mums who appear to have it all together are the ones who are struggling the most.”
And though this is true, standing next to that mum is a partner who is also struggling.
How can we better support partners of PND sufferers?