How I overcame postnatal depression

Did you know that an estimated 13% of mothers experience post natal depression? That is quite a high amount and I think that there is still quite a stigma about depression in our society. I am not sure if my depression could be called post natal depression, as I only started dealing with the effects a couple of months after the birth. Nonetheless, I will share my story of how I overcame post natal depression, or just depression.

I am wondering where to start, because normally, the beginning is actually the middle. My story is much older than the symptom of the depression, but I will tell the story from the point at which seems relevant at this moment.

I had always wanted to be a mother. Always. I have a really big heart, I have a lot of love to share. My maternal urge was always very, very deep. It is not like that for all women, but for me, it was strong. As soon as I had finished my post graduate exams and passed my final exam as a Chartered Accountant, I was overjoyed. I was overjoyed because I knew that I was free to have a baby. I went off the pill immediately. I started reading books about how to prepare my body for conception. I loved Patrick Holford’s Optimum Nutrition Before, During and After Pregnancy. It laid a big foundation for how I eat to this day. I didn’t have to prepare my body very long, I fell pregnant in a month!

I was overjoyed. The pregnancy was beautiful. Easy. Blissful.

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The day that Annie was born was incredible. I had an elective caesarean because Annie was a breech baby. (A few years after she was born, I read that breech babies stay that way to stay close to their mother’s hearts. That resonated deeply with me.) To be honest, I was relieved that there was a reason for me to have an elective caesarean. I was so disconnected from my feminine essence. I thought that natural birth was disgusting and primitive. I was living a very glamorous life in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, the city with the highest rate of caesarean sections in the world. There is a term for women like me at the time: “Too posh to push.” I had a friend who was in labour and the baby was almost out and yet they still performed a caesarean section. That is just the culture over there.

I recovered very quickly and brought my baby home on new years eve. I struggled to breastfeed her and she had colic. It was not easy. And yet, I was happier than I had ever been in my life. I was home with my baby and not at work, in the job that would drain the life out of me.

When she was four months old, I had to go back to work. For financial reasons, it was not possible for me to stay home and she went to an incredible day care centre where she was loved and cared for beautifully. I, on the hand did not feel loved, or cared for.

I hated my job. I did not get along with the people, my boss was really difficult. I was miserable. I had been miserable for years. I had chosen a career that my soul did not want. I had studied for seven years for something that I did not want. I had spent a huge part of my life pushing against my self. I struggled all the way through university. I struggled through my articles. I came home exhausted. I didn’t know how miserable I was until I was separated from my baby.

You see, my true desire in my life was to nurture life. To live in tune with my own inner rhythms. To connect with another human being on a truly intimate level. To be at home. To be in nature. To live creatively from my soul. I had spent years and years shutting that down.

And it all came crashing down when the contrast of the life I had had a glimpse of, was too big, compared to the life I had created for myself in my job. I ended up seeing a therapist and my doctor prescribed Prozac. I realised in the therapy that I had to get better for my daughter. It was the moment that I realised that if I was to be any kind of mother to my daughter, I had to take care of myself.

It was the beginning of this blog.

It was the beginning of Peaceful Mothering.

I was not peaceful. I was raging inside. I had a life I hated and I hated myself for it. You see, depression is just anger that gets pushed down. We would much rather deal with a sad mother, than a raging mother. We do not want to see mothers expressing emotions. We want to see mothers being calm, peaceful and loving. Never losing their cool. Always composed.

How many times have you heard negative statements being made about women being too emotional? We do not think it is acceptable to be anything other than “nice’.

Quite a big ask, if you ask me. When I say that we want “nice” mothers, I mean me, too. I did not want to face myself. I was so disconnected from myself, that I did not even know what I wanted. It has been a process of many years to know what I want. It is an ever evolving process.

My own mother died in the midst of my healing from post natal depression. Luckily I was seeing my therapist when she died. I was not ready to be the matriarch of the family and yet it brought even more freedom to my life.

With my own mother no longer physically with me, I was forced to use my inner compass even more. Three months after she died, I left my job. I found a much better company. It was still not my dream job and I was still not at home with my baby, but, it was progress. It’s always one step at a time.

Somewhere along the path, I stopped with the Prozac. I always turn to natural therapies first. And yet, I have a great appreciation for western medicine. The drugs cleared my mind enough to deal with what was underlying. The drugs did not fix me. I fixed me. The drugs were there to support me. I was brave enough to look at what was underneath.

So great was my love for my daughter.

I did not want her growing up with an unhappy mother. It was then that I realised that unhappy mothers create unhappy children. It was then that I realised that I was teaching my daughter through my actions. It was then that I realised how incredibly intuitive children are. It was then that I realised that by not fixing myself, I was not only hurting myself, but, I was also hurting my daughter.

It was then that I realised that I am the only one who is responsible for what I manifest in my life. The depression came on because I was unhappy in the life that I had created. It was not put on me by genetics or any other external condition.

It could only heal if I owned it as mine. If I took full responsibility for it. I could spend my life blaming my boss, the company, my parents for the career I hated; or I could take my power back and own my life.

The depression was the greatest gift I ever gave myself. Without that darkness, I would not have cried out for the light.

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I now live in another country. I don’t have a corporate job anymore. I have my babies at home with me. I am studying to be a yoga teacher. I live my life according to my feminine rhythms. I have a beautiful home. I have an incredible relationship with my husband.

I love my life.

And I am not depressed.

I overcame my depression by deciding to be happy. I overcame my depression by deciding that I mattered. I overcame my depression by putting myself first.

I have heard that post natal depression affects certain types of women. Women who want to be in control. Perfectionists. That was me.

Did you know that those are masculine qualities? Feminine qualities are qualities of allowing and receiving. Women are natural creators, it is our true essence. Life literally flows through us.

I was not letting my life flow. I would not even let my baby flow through my vagina. I was so scared to face myself as a woman that I lived my life as a man. I see now, that the more I let my life flow, the happier I become.

Life does not happen to us. We make our life happen. I am so happy to be consciously creating my life.

I wonder if you have had any challenging times in your life that have turned out to be a great blessing? I wonder if you have considered how powerful you are in that you create your own life?

I would love to hear from you in the comments below.

Blessings to you.

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6 thoughts on “How I overcame postnatal depression

  1. Jen

    Good for you — for taking control of your health and for sharing your story with others in an effort to inspire. I firmly agree that we make life happen and that we bring peace into our life by being at peace. I will say that I have struggled with anxiety for more than a decade and i go through up periods and down periods. My advice? Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge there are times when you need outside help .. and that may even mean medication again one day. I am a wellness pusher. I believe in food/mood connection. I believe that we are an over medicated society. But I also know that sometimes (a lot of time) we (I) need help. BTW/ I also am an expat…

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    1. olgadossa

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Jen. I applaud you for being kind to yourself in all the periods of your life. I totally agree with you about the food connection. Our bodies are our homes, so it makes so much sense that what we put in will affect all areas of our lives. Sending you many blessings. xxx

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  2. Sohail

    Wow – this is amazing!!! Pardon me awhile while I speak on behalf of the world 🙂

    The world is grateful that you would share on such a raw and yet intuitive and feminine level. So many people have variations of this experience and by sharing, you also confirm to others that it’s ok. Ok to live and learn. Ok to feel what you feel and learn from the darkness. Ok to change. Ok to live with your natural rhythms. Ok to be the woman you are. Ok to be the mother you are. Ok to be!

    We thank you

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  3. tonyadams1969

    Lovely words, Olga! Very well said. As a fellow traveller on the dark and twisting path, I really do understand! And credit to Sohail for walking with you – that is one cool guy, right there!

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  4. Vallie Dossa

    Wow, so inspiring Olga. I always believe that every cloud has a silver lining. Well done on seeing the post natal depression as one. As first time mothers’ it is rather overwhelming to accept that new life as a mother isn’t as glamorous:) Work family life balance is a tough one especially in trying to keep up with the rat race of life in Jhb. I’m so happy that you are so much more fulfilled. May the path of light you follow only but continue to shine on each person that comes towards it! Lots of love,V.

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