Tearfulness, anxiety, loss of or increased appetite, exhaustion, lack of motivation and irritability are all symptoms of sleep-deprivation.
They are also symptoms of depression.
This coupled with the fact that depression can lead to exhaustion and exhaustion can make you feel low is why so many cases of postnatal depression go undiagnosed.
The mother often believes she is just totally and utterly shattered and that she’d be fine if she could JUST GET SOME BLOODY SLEEP!
I was that mother.
I felt awful after I had my first baby but as she woke up at least every half an hour during the night, I was convinced I was just really bloody tired.
I was bound to feel low, living on so little sleep, right?
People kept telling me I just ‘needed a good night’s rest’, but the thing was, even after I had managed to get some rest, I still felt exhausted, anxious and depressed.
By the time I was diagnosed with postnatal depression (PND), I was really unwell and I wished I had got help sooner.
When I had my second baby, I was sleep-deprived but fortunately, I did not have PND.
With two daughters under two I was still exhausted, anxious and depressed but it wasn’t as all-consuming and I could see beyond it. I didn’t feel so hopeless.
Although some traits of PND and sleep-deprivation are similar – my healthy mind and my unwell mind responded to those symptoms in very different ways.
Every single case of PND is very different, but this is how I could tell the difference:
PND VS SLEEP DEPRIVATION
PND: I can’t sleep. Even when the baby is actually asleep.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION: The baby is asleep so I can sleep
PND: I still feel tired even when I have slept.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION: I feel so much better after a good night’s sleep. My baby is not sleeping because she’s a baby and it’s what they do
PND: My baby is not sleeping at night because I am a crap mother.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION: My baby isn’t sleeping at night because she is a baby and it is what they do.
PND: I am struggling with motherhood because I am a weak person.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION: I am struggling with motherhood because I am really bloody knackered. But I’m only human.
PND: I can’t cope any more.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION: I can’t cope until I have had coffee. Then it will be hard but I will cope. Just like I did yesterday and the day before that.
PND: I hate myself.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION: I hate being sleep-deprived.
PND: Everything is shit and it will be forever.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION: Sleep-deprivation is shit, but it will pass.
PND: I am a failure.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION: I am exhausted. Motherhood is tough. Newborns are hard work.
It’s possible you’ve had stitches in your lady bits, you have piles and you haven’t slept. Plus, there’s those raging hormones to deal with.
So it is inevitable you will not be happy all of the time.
But this doesn’t mean you are NOT happy to have a beautiful baby. It means you are human and humans do get tired, stressed and overwhelmed. It is completely normal.
However, if it does NOT pass, if you are sleeping yet still feel rubbish, if you constantly feel hopeless, low, numb or fearful for the future then talk to your GP or health visitor.
THE BOOK: There is also a whole chapter on this in my book Sleep is for the Weak: How To survive When Your Baby Won’t Go The Fzzk To sleep. Hardback copy on Amazon right now!