Family Magazine

Postnatal Depression in Men

By Philmonk

I never thought I would be writing a blog post about postnatal depression in men. I didn’t think it would happen to me but it did. I figured that it was the sort of thing that happened to new mums. I assumed my wife my struggle but not me, I couldn’t wait to be a dad and I was going to be there best dad I could be. Bring It On!!

All of that was about to change

At first everything was great, my little girl arrived six days overdue and my wife had to spend a couple of nights in hospital but I couldn’t wait to get them both home, I was so excited.

I’d spent every hour I could at the hospital visiting, not wanting to miss a second of her first few days in this world. I hated it when visiting time came to an end I had to leave. Finally I got to take them both home and we could begin our life as a family.

As any new parent will agree, those first few days and weeks are a little bit of a blur, it’s all eat, sleep, change nappy – repeat! But we eventually started to get into a routine and after a couple of very short weeks my paternity leave was done and I had to get back to work.

First signs of my depression starting to show

Pretty soon life returned to relative normality for me. Going to work everyday and getting back into life outside being a new dad.

I began to miss my ‘old life’, instead I had to go home and do feeds, change nappies and not get a moments peace with my wife.

I got asked on more than one occasion if I was enjoying being a dad, and although I would smile and say ‘yeah it’s the best thing I’ve ever done’ deep down I hated it, or to be more to the point I hated how it had changed my lifestyle.

I began to struggle. Arguing with my wife over pretty petty things. I couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning and hated going home.

Everything revolved around baby and I hated it, resented it even, which was at odds about how I felt when I held her in my arms, she was the most perfect thing in the whole world, I loved her with every fiber of my being so why did I hate this so much?

On more than one occasion I remember telling my wife how shit my life was, hissing at her through gritted teeth that if I had my time again I’d never have started a family, all while holding my baby girl in my arms trying to rock her to sleep! I was angry, really angry and didn’t know how to express why I was feeling the way I did.

It’s almost comical to think back to those early months, I was at a real odds with everything. Forcing myself to do all of the things that needed doing while wishing I didn’t have to do any of it. Scared of not bonding with my daughter but at the same time almost resenting her very existence.

I would have done anything, anything to get it my car and just drive as far away as I could.

My relationship with my wife suffered, we stopped communicating, almost forgetting how to talk to each other without it breaking down. I was pretty horrible to be around

My wife thought having a baby was the best thing in the whole world. I didn’t.

We just couldn’t see things from each others point of view, the more we tried to convince each other that each of us was right the worse it got.

During the Christmas break my wife and my best friend between them, both concerned for my health and welfare convinced me to go and speak to the doctor. It was either that or well, maybe you wouldn’t be reading this, I felt that bad.

I got diagnosed with severe depression and was given anti depressants and referred for counseling.

To say I felt like a failure was an understatement. I couldn’t understand why I felt the way I did after feeling so excited about being a dad.

As the anti depressants started to work, I slowly began to open up about how I felt. I was lucky that I found that I could talk to a friend, she’d been through postnatal depression herself and was a good sounding board for how I felt about things.

Slowly I began to work through how I felt, the first step was to realize that I wasn’t ‘bad’ for feeling the way I did.

Depression can creep up on you and easily go unnoticed.

For any dads out there who think they might be suffering from postnatal depression my advice would be to find someone who you can trust to talk to, whether it’s a friend, a family member or your doctor. You are not alone.

Having a depression can easily go unnoticed, it’s very easy to dismiss it. And having a baby is a life changing event, something that is wonderful but probably the single most scary thing you will ever do, certainly to start off with.

Don’t make the mistake I did and go months without speaking to someone, recognize the symptoms and get some help.

Here are some useful resources if you think you may be suffering from postnatal depression

Counselling helped, I realised I had a lot of other issues connected with my own relationship with my dad that need to be resolved and had contributed to the way I felt about certain things.

If you’re a dad and recognize any of the above, feel free to get in touch, I’ve been there and done it and made it through. Being a new dad is a huge learning curve, it does get easier but those first few weeks and months can be pretty isolating.

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