Miriam’s Musings

Let’s break the silence around postnatal depression

The most amazing thing has just happened…following a long and tiring labour, you performed a superhuman task by giving birth to the most precious little being the world has ever known.

Your face is still puffy, your eyes are still bloodshot and your cheeks are still scattered with tiny burst blood vessels – but you don’t care. You’re crying tears of unbridled joy because this is the moment you’ve been waiting for your entire life.

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, your hormone levels plummet to such a level that you, barely holding it together, suddenly feel the initial elation nosedive. But do you complain? Nope! Instead you soldier on – I mean, nobody properly addressed this issue during those fun, fluffy antenatal classes, now did they? Yeah, the ‘baby blues’ were mentioned, but the seriousness of postnatal depression was skimmed over in a cross-that-bridge-if-we-come-to-it approach.

However, as you try to establish a feeding routine, develop a sleep pattern, work through the sore boobs (if you’re breastfeeding), and suffer from a very sore and angry undercarriage if you’ve had an episiotomy, you suddenly begin to realise the serious mental health implications of becoming a mother! Yes ladies, is it any wonder I only gave birth twice, leaving eleven years in between?

My reason for addressing this subject is down to the heart-searing tragedy that occurred last week when a young mother in Dublin allegedly took her own life. The body of her infant son was subsequently discovered in an upstairs room of the house that she shared with her partner.

According to reports, Gardaí are treating this distressing incident as a ‘family tragedy’. My thoughts are with everyone who knew and loved this young mother and her child.

It has been reported that this beautiful lady originally came from our neighbouring County Mayo, and had been ‘suffering from postnatal depression in recent months’. I am so, so sorry for her family’s loss.

While we don’t know for certain the reasons behind this tragedy, the effects of childbirth on a woman’s physical, psychological and social health can be so great, so overwhelming, that the very act itself can create an environment for a perfect storm of complex emotions. The consequences of this sudden transition can cause many of us to feel vulnerable and powerless.

Overnight, our feelings can suddenly manifest from ones of elation into a growing emptiness, a sadness so palpable and so heavy that it engulfs us, making us feel as though we might, quite literally, solidify. Then, without warning, the despair and the desolation that fiendishly hovered, takes root, consuming our entire world from the inside out. Sound familiar?

It’s time we broke the silence around the debilitating effects of post-natal depression. It’s time we acknowledged and recognised that this is a serious condition that affects approximately eighteen thousand mothers a year in this country. There are women who are clearly struggling when they become mothers, and for some reason, they feel they must battle on and present the image of the perfect, holding-it-all-together superwoman.

Let me tell you ladies: there is no such thing as the perfect mother –she simply doesn’t exist. If you’re reading this and feeling that everything is beyond your grasp, that life has become an insurmountable task – please, please reach out. Please try as hard as you can (and I know how difficult this is) to walk that path back to wellness by speaking to someone, anyone, be that your partner, mother, friend, doctor, the woman in the supermarket, whomever. You will be listened to, and you will not be judged.

There’s no shame in experiencing postnatal depression. You will not be left on your own to traverse what may seem like the long, winding road back to your former self – I promise you. Help, understanding, and a complete recovery are within your grasp.

Can I ask readers to be on the look-out for what I call ‘trigger’ words that new mothers may use: tiredness, not sleeping, weepy, and colicky baby, etc. These words may be whispered in passing rather than being shouted, but don’t ignore them. Please dig deeper as there may be an underlying cry for help.

The Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123.

Yes, George Lee’s prophet-of-doom-face reports terrify me!

It has been a long time since we’ve had any ‘positive’ Covid news. In fact, so good was the media’s we-could-have-a-vaccine-before-Christmas announcement, I could almost see George Lee (RTE’s Grim Reaper – sorry Environment and Science Correspondent) visibly sink before my eyes. I mean, the imminent arrival of a vaccine to combat Covid must surely have come as a real buzzkill for a man who seems to be at his very best when delivering devastating news to the nation.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve got great respect for Mr. Lee as a journalist. His credentials are impeccable and I’m sure he’s a lovely man. However, when George dons his prophet-of-doom-face to lecture us – sorry – deliver his report ‘end-of-the-world’ style, I can’t help but feel a sense of foreboding for the future of the entire human race. Now, is that just me, or does anyone else feel like this?

Ah we love ya George!


Why I’m sick of the anti-maskers!

We all have a right to be heard and we all have a right to protest in a peaceful manner. Okay, we’ve got that out of the way! However, last week’s gathering by the so-called ‘Yellow Vest Ireland’ protestors in Dublin’s city centre was not only selfish, it was downright dangerous!

These halfwit yellow-vesters, who were joined by the anti-vaxers, anti-maskers, anti-immigrationers, and the I-can’t-believe-it’s not-butter-ers (okay maybe I made that last one up), are placing every single one of us at risk.

As this pandemic claims lives, I believe anyone who plans and attends these large-scale events in order to protest against health and safety directives, amid a backdrop of what is the largest and most complex crisis this nation has ever endured, should not only be fined – they should also be prosecuted!

Fair play to An Garda Síochána who did their best to peacefully disperse the crowds. From what I saw on social media, those on duty were quite clearly forced to intervene. Look folks, like everyone, I believe each and every one of us should be guaranteed the right to life, liberty, freedom, dignity and self-expression, etc., etc., etc. However, with those rights comes responsibility, and by refusing to socially distance themselves and not wear a mask, these people are not only placing us all at risk, they’re denying us our right to live a healthy life. How hypocritical is that?

Therefore, next time you ignorant anti-maskers want to throw a tantrum, throw it in your own backyard – because freedom, without the guarantee of health and safety for your fellow human being, is no freedom at all.