Even the Darkest Clouds Can Have Silver Linings

Posted On Jul 03, 2021 |

by Rose Child


The first months of my daughter’s life were the worst months of mine. Even now, after several years and lots of therapy, that still hurts to write. A couple of days after she was born, things began to fall apart in my mind. I felt constantly terrified, refused to sleep, and wouldn’t leave my daughter for even a moment. When she was eight days old, the situation – and I – became desperate. To save my life, my daughter and I were admitted to a psychiatric mother and baby unit a hundred miles from our home. I continued to have extreme anxiety, was unable to sleep without sedation, and had episodes of near-catatonic depression. We were discharged after two months, but I remained very unwell at home for some time. My daughter was around six months before my mental health was anything approaching stable.


In such a vulnerable state, it would be understandable for our brains to equate illness caused by having a baby with illness caused by the baby itself. There would be no fault in us for that. But I’ll remain forever thankful that my brain never made that connection. For me, and for many women I’ve encountered who’ve suffered from acute perinatal mental illness, our babies are what kept us alive. 


I loved my daughter intensely. My only smiles were for her. Holding her made me feel like I was doing one small bit of good in the world. But my mind felt like it was disintegrating, and I couldn’t see a way through. All I wanted was what was best for her. And all I wanted was to be her mother. But those two things seemed completely at odds. Who would want a mother who cried constantly and got admitted to psychiatric units when everyone else just seemed to cope? 


My daughter, as it turned out. 


To recover as fully as I did, I had support, and medication, and therapy, and time. But most of all, I had my daughter. She is what gave me the determination to seek and accept the help that I so desperately needed. She is what got me out of bed every day. Quite literally. And under her constant, trusting gaze, I was gradually able to see what she so clearly saw – that I was someone worth loving. Someone doing their absolute best for her. Her mother. 


Far from being what caused my illness, my daughter is what saved me from it. She is here because of me, yes. But I am also here because of her. I will always be grateful to her, and grateful for her.


While I can never be glad about what happened to me, I can still appreciate that it has made me the person I am today and forged the unbreakable bond that my daughter and I have. There is a marked difference between the toxic positivity that often gets aimed at people when they’ve been through something like this, and a genuine, hard- won appreciation that the most wonderful things really can come out of the worst of experiences. 


To my daughter (although I hope she’ll never need to hear it), and to anyone else in the darkest of places: don’t give up. On the other side of this there is more love than you can hold. 


Rose Child lives in Bristol, UK, with her partner and daughter. After experiencing acute postpartum mental illness, she left her long-term career to work, write and research in the field of perinatal mental health. You can find more of Rose’s writing on her blog, Mother Courage.






Categories: PND, Mental Health

Even the Darkest Clouds Can Have Silver Linings

Posted On Jul 03, 2021 |

by Rose Child


The first months of my daughter’s life were the worst months of mine. Even now, after several years and lots of therapy, that still hurts to write. A couple of days after she was born, things began to fall apart in my mind. I felt constantly terrified, refused to sleep, and wouldn’t leave my daughter for even a moment. When she was eight days old, the situation – and I – became desperate. To save my life, my daughter and I were admitted to a psychiatric mother and baby unit a hundred miles from our home. I continued to have extreme anxiety, was unable to sleep without sedation, and had episodes of near-catatonic depression. We were discharged after two months, but I remained very unwell at home for some time. My daughter was around six months before my mental health was anything approaching stable.


In such a vulnerable state, it would be understandable for our brains to equate illness caused by having a baby with illness caused by the baby itself. There would be no fault in us for that. But I’ll remain forever thankful that my brain never made that connection. For me, and for many women I’ve encountered who’ve suffered from acute perinatal mental illness, our babies are what kept us alive. 


I loved my daughter intensely. My only smiles were for her. Holding her made me feel like I was doing one small bit of good in the world. But my mind felt like it was disintegrating, and I couldn’t see a way through. All I wanted was what was best for her. And all I wanted was to be her mother. But those two things seemed completely at odds. Who would want a mother who cried constantly and got admitted to psychiatric units when everyone else just seemed to cope? 


My daughter, as it turned out. 


To recover as fully as I did, I had support, and medication, and therapy, and time. But most of all, I had my daughter. She is what gave me the determination to seek and accept the help that I so desperately needed. She is what got me out of bed every day. Quite literally. And under her constant, trusting gaze, I was gradually able to see what she so clearly saw – that I was someone worth loving. Someone doing their absolute best for her. Her mother. 


Far from being what caused my illness, my daughter is what saved me from it. She is here because of me, yes. But I am also here because of her. I will always be grateful to her, and grateful for her.


While I can never be glad about what happened to me, I can still appreciate that it has made me the person I am today and forged the unbreakable bond that my daughter and I have. There is a marked difference between the toxic positivity that often gets aimed at people when they’ve been through something like this, and a genuine, hard- won appreciation that the most wonderful things really can come out of the worst of experiences. 


To my daughter (although I hope she’ll never need to hear it), and to anyone else in the darkest of places: don’t give up. On the other side of this there is more love than you can hold. 


Rose Child lives in Bristol, UK, with her partner and daughter. After experiencing acute postpartum mental illness, she left her long-term career to work, write and research in the field of perinatal mental health. You can find more of Rose’s writing on her blog, Mother Courage.






Categories: PND, Mental Health

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