Aussie Actress Tammin Sursok Shares Her Struggles With Post Natal Depression and Anxiety
Becoming a mother changes you in ways you never imagined or thought possible. The love you feel for your child is so unconditional, so pure and so overwhelming that there are days you feel your heart will literally burst.
Parenthood means your life is now heading down a path you may or may not be prepared for. Your child will literally be dependant on you for many years. They will need you to feed them, bathe them and teach them how to sleep. You will be responsible for their diet, toilet training and teaching them to speak. There are park visits, hospital appointments and childcare placements.
Women may think they are prepared for the birth of their first child but what they are often surprised about is the degree to which they are needed. Babies are consuming. When we bring them home from the hospital we’re left to our own devices and we become overwhelmed. Yet we smile and push the feelings aside because we don’t want to seem ungrateful. After all there are so many women trying to have a baby and here we are with one (or more) and all we feel like doing is staying in bed to cry.
I know, I felt this exact emotion when we bought home our babies. I loved them so much and was eternally grateful to have two healthy bouncing boys that for weeks I told myself to ‘stop being stupid’ every time I felt teary.
Was I prepared or even ready to hand over my life to my babies? Quit my job, become a stay at home mum and change everything about my daily routine as I knew it. No more sleep ins, no more impromptu nights out, no more just worrying about myself. I would forever be known as someone’s mum and a little part of me would be left behind.
Luckily I felt the cloud over my head lift as the months ticked by. I spoke with other mums in mum’s group and friends with babies and realised I wasn’t alone. They too felt overwhelmed and unsure of the changes that would come with parenthood. But we navigated through this time together. Like a group of mummy warriors we faced our challenges head on and knew it was okay to cry. It was okay to want to stay in bed and it was certainly okay to talk about it.
Which is why I just love it when celebrities like Tammin Sursok come out and admit they too suffered with post natal anxiety or depression. It normalises it for the rest of us and makes us realise that celebrities are no different to you and I.
Below is an excerpt of a post Sursok penned for recently. It’s raw, honest and speaks to mothers everywhere. Thank you Tammin- for being brave enough to keep the diction going and not hiding it behind closed doors. We wish you love and continued happiness with your gorgeous family.
I SAT on the uninviting, stark doctor’s bed, hunched over in fear. Fear that I wouldn’t be able to get out of the dreamlike state of detachment. Fear that I wouldn’t realise my potential as the mother I knew I could be, fear that my life would forever be that of a never-ending slow motion horror film.
Feeling nothing, I was numb, and yet feeling everything, like an electric fire through my spine. I remember looking at my hands, the hands that wiped my daughter’s tears and held her unformed head, and they didn’t feel like they were a part of my body. Like I was watching.
Watching a life outside myself, never really hinged to the earth. I remember not being able to swallow. Not being able to eat. Not being able to cry. Not being able to breathe. Just not being “able”.
Then I heard those words “You have post-partum anxiety”.
I remember that day. Even in my detachment from my newly formless world I remember it so vividly that it burns bright in technicolor.
“Mum, I need help.” I faintly whispered that morning. “I can’t do this anymore.”
So here I was. Diagnosed. Sitting in the doctor’s room, instead of celebrating my magnificent newborn and the rebirth of myself as a mother.
Now what? After six months of trying to figure out what was “wrong” with me, trying to boil it down to “just hormones” and “just sleep deprivation” and “just life adjustments”, I was officially branded by two words.
I was handed some pale yellow pills, told it was common and sent on my merry “just been diagnosed with a mental illness” way.
As I arrived home I remember staring at the medication in the palm of my hands and it triggering a complete panic attack. I lost my balance, as the room started to spin, with the almost cartoon like voices yelling “failure, faulty, imperfect, let down”.
My breathing laboured and I almost passed out. I hysterically threw the medication in the bin (which I’m now sure would have helped me greatly) and never did end up taking them. Ironically, I wondered, if I didn’t help myself, was I more of a failure??
Nothing can prepare you for being a mother. The first time you get to witness your child, you feel like they have walked beside you your whole life. They were a part of your dreams, part of your memories, a constant piece of you. The love is debilitating. They are demanding, and thought-stoking and awe-inspiring. They aggressively erase parts of you that will forever be lost, and draw, with reckless abandon, colourful new ones. You think about the footsteps you want to leave and people’s opinions become a dull sound in the distance.
(Read the complete essay here.)