Introducing my husband G, he has written a post for me this week about how he feels about post-natal anxiety.
A week away in the Lake District. Sounded a great idea; a week away from it all, relaxing. After 5½ hours sat in traffic on the M6 we had only covered the first 100 miles with another 100 left to get there. Little Man was being golden and Rachel was worrying about anything and everything that could go wrong. Where could we stop, would the crawling traffic allow us to pull in to a service area at the exact time Little Man has his lunch? Would he then fall asleep in the car at his exact normal nap time? He only falls asleep if the car is moving. What if he doesn’t sleep? He will be grumpy and ruin it for her parents and everything will go wrong. The traffic dissipated and an hour and a half later we were in the cottage that the in-laws had booked for us all. Disaster averted. So off we went to unpack.
“I can’t seem to find my anxiety tablets”. “Didn’t you pack them in your wash bag?” “I think I left them on the side in our bedroom.”
1. I find the local GP in the morning and try to get a prescription. Would they be able to contact our GP? Probably not and anyway tomorrow is a Saturday.
2. Can I find a dodgy pharmacy and pay 3 figures to get the medication? Probably not.
3. Can we wait until the M6 is normal (the middle of the night) and just go back and get them?
Option 3 sounds insane. But with a wife suffering from post-natal anxiety 200 miles away from the only thing that helps her, it is the only viable option (other than we all go back home in the morning). So we put Little Man to bed, gave the monitor to the in-laws and off we went. 6 hours in the car, probably the longest time we had spent together without him since he was born. We could listen to normal music, rather than the sound of whatever Little Man was watching on the TV in the back. Bliss. And, Rachel was a different person immediately when she knew she was getting the tablets.
When living with a partner who suffers from post-natal anxiety, it is all about being prepared to go the extra mile (or 400) to allow them to live as normal life as they can. If that means doing silly things, so be it. As Rachel has mentioned in many posts, I work away from home almost every week, leaving at stupid o’clock on a Monday morning and getting home on a Thursday about 3.5 seconds before Little Man goes to sleep. Sometimes I can be a long way from home. But on the odd occasion when I have had a teary phone call or a day of texts that get increasingly desperate, I have found myself using £50 of fuel just to give a cuddle. Yes it’s inconvenient, yes it’s annoying, yes your colleagues think you’re mad. I don’t pretend to understand fully what she has been going through but I understand enough to know this. If something goes wrong and she can’t work out a solution, it is down to me to fix it. Whatever it is, whenever it is, however inconvenient it is, failure is not an option. I will be there.
That holiday was a year and a half ago now and at the height of post-natal anxiety hitting our family. Rachel is a completely different person now. The anxiety still comes randomly and I deal with it to the best of my ability. Sometimes that can be reassurance, other times helping her to face it head on. But the key here is that it is getting better. It is still there, but she is being positive and telling it to Foxtrot Oscar. And I am proud of her.
So if you’re reading this as a partner to someone suffering from post-natal anxiety, all I can say is be there for them as much as you can. It can seem cataclysmically frustrating at times, but just hold it all together for them and help them face it. And if they are not ready to face it yet, just go along with whatever they need to get through it. Just be patient, find yourself a method to calm down and use it when necessary, be prepared to cancel your day, and know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It will get better.