“Five months ago, in the middle of Covid, I had a baby boy and since then I’ve felt completely miserable and drained. This should have been a wonderful time in my life, sharing my new son with friends and family and watching him grow.
“Instead, I can’t summon the energy to do anything around the house and I look a mess most of the time. This is my first baby and before he was born, I had a demanding job and loved every minute of it. I would never have slopped around the house all day in a dressing gown.
“My husband (who is working normally) is getting pretty fed up with my behaviour too and doesn’t seem to understand me at all – not surprising, as I don’t really understand myself. He doesn’t mind the fact I don’t cook for him any more (he’s a better cook than me anyway). But it’s my ‘pathetic moping’, as he calls it, that he can’t cope with.
“For no apparent reason, I just burst into tears last week and started to shout at my son for doing this to me. Now I feel so guilty about this, that I’m wondering if I am safe to be left alone with him.
“If this was all over and I could get out and about and meet people, I’m sure I’d be doing better, but it’s the isolation and loneliness that’s really getting to me.”
“I’m so sorry to hear you are feeling so down following the birth of your baby. The pandemic has triggered mental health problems for many people, partly because of isolation, partly because of money worries and job insecurities, and many, many other reasons.
“However, it may well be that what you are experiencing is post-natal depression. This is a genuine illness and is a lot more common than most people think – even before the pandemic.
“A lot of people have heard the term ‘baby blues’ used to describe a mild, short, period of depression which many women experience after childbirth. This is not the same though, and as many as 10% of all new mothers develop postnatal depression – so you are far from alone.
“Looking after a first baby demands huge changes in lifestyle; it’s exhausting work and the lack of sleep doesn’t help. It’s also mentally draining, as you’ve been used to adult company, and now find that your days are devoid of conversation.
“I find it sad that your husband is reacting the way he is – you could do with a little more understanding and care right now. I realise you are probably unable to see the people who could help you face-to-face, but I do hope you’re in touch with caring relatives or friends – ideally through video or phone calls.
“Make sure your husband realises (and soon) that this isn’t just something you can control and snap out of – any more than you could control any other kind of health issue. We all now know – I hope – that saying (or even just implying) ‘pull yourself together’ just doesn’t work and isn’t helpful.
“Having a baby can also cause hormonal changes that play havoc with your emotions, so please do contact your doctor and explain what you’re going through. You may also like to contact the Association for Post-Natal Illness (apni.org), which could be a helpful source of support, as well as providing you with information that could help.
“You could also contact Pandas – PND Awareness & Support (pandasfoundation.org.uk), which aims to ensure no parent, family or carer feels alone with post-natal depression.”
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