Sunday, August 9, 2015

So what if I have PND?

I've had PND (Post Natal Depression) for 6 years now. 

After both kids. And that's okay. I can live with that, because I'm lucky enough to have access to treatment and supportive friends. I've never felt inadequate or guilty or ashamed.

Quite the opposite really. I don't mind talking about my experience. I always hope it will encourage another Mum or make her feel less alone.

But I was thrown on Thursday last week. I went to see an allergy specialist for my never ending runny nose and eyes. A German doctor. He was loud. He sounded German. He did his job. He asked about my medical history and what medication I was on. I told him I took citalopram because I suffer from PND. When told my youngest was now 3 he raised his eyebrows very high and said:

"Is that still PND after 3 years?". I just stared at him, gob-smacked.

Then he asked a few questions about allergy medications I've tried over the years. After a few minutes he stopped and said:

"I can't believe how many people take anti-depressants in New Zealand. Doctors just give it out to everyone. Don't you think you could stop now?" Wow. Just wow. I spluttered. I stumbled on my words. And then I said:

"I ended up at the CATT (Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team) centre in Porirua when my baby was 4 weeks old. I wanted to kill myself. I..." He interrupted me and said, "Oh, you were suicidal. Please keep taking the pills then!".

We then proceeded with what I was there for: allergies and prick testing. He was highly efficient in that regard and I'm already doing much better on the new treatment. Thank you German Doctor.

I feel so lucky that I'm in a place now where I can hear such statements and not take them too seriously. He did make me doubt for a few seconds...

"Could I stop my anti-depressants now?", "Do I really need them?"

Was the German Doctor right?

But then sense took over. I mean, come on. It's ok to take anti-depressants if you're suicidal but not otherwise? Just come off the pills, you don't need them anyway? Imagine if he said that to a woman who was feeling very unwell mentally, or felt guilty, or lost, or angry about her PND? I left that office worried that a highly qualified doctor, who gets paid $375 per 45 minute consultation, feels he has the right to give a woman he doesn't know advice about her PND and her treatment. 

Would he have told my friend with diabetes to stop her injections? 
Would he have told my other friend with severe asthma to stop using her inhaler? 
Did he tell me to stop taking medication for my allergies?

There is obviously still a stigma attached to all forms of depression. Maybe more so in Europe than in New Zealand. My very talented Mum, who has suffered from depression her entire adult life and has come up against a lot of judgement and stereotypes, wrote a great little book called "Thank God for Anti-Depressants". I agree with her 100%. Thank God for all medication that saves life, be it diabetes, cholesterol, depression, asthma, infections, etc.

So what if I have PND? So what if I was suicidal? It's okay. It's called life. PND is still a part of my life. Mostly in the form of anxieties these days. But it's still there. I'm better and better as the years go by though and I find that exciting.

So what if you have PND or depression? It's okay. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. You will get better, with or without the help of pills and/or other remedies. Life is a journey and it will throw things at you, but I've found that it's the way you accept and deal with life's lemons that transform you into a better and stronger person. I've gone through two very bare and lifeless winters, but spring is a pretty exciting place to be: summer is just around the corner!

I would never trade my journey for an easier one. It has made me who I am today. Your journey makes you who you are today.

You are amazingly and fearfully made. Kia Kaha! Be Strong!

I'd love to hear from you!

* If you are suffering from depression and you are worried about your safety or the safety of others, please don't suffer in silence. Contact your doctor, or call a friend. Ask for help.*


  1. Heavens. Stick to your specialty, Allergy Doctor! And if you are going to pretend to be a psychiatrist, don't skip to prescription advice before taking a history!

    Well done on surviving that. xx