How It Is: Stories of Postnatal Depression: On A Bad Day

What a bad day might be like for someone with postnatal depression |

Today is A Bad Day. It didn’t start out that way, and I don’t know quite how it slipped into the chasm, but at about 1.15pm I suddenly felt deflated.

I don’t want to be a downer, but I thought it might be helpful to describe what A Bad Day can be like. Quite a few people have asked along the way.

I’m also committed to the community practice of lament, where we don’t all have to pretend that we’re fine when we’re not. Easier said than frowned, but here’s a small start.


Mourning Young Man #1

Mourning Young Man #1 (Photo credit: just.Luc), tombstone in cemetery in Elsene/Ixelles, Belgium.


It’s been a hardish week. We’ve finished our travels and arrived in Wellington to start the next era, but the year’s hobo-ness stays with us as we are yet to figure out job+house+church+friends+squash club and so on. Luckily we’re living with SBJ’s godparents for a bit, which is a real grace to us.

We had a near-death experience on the last leg home, as a young driver took his eyes off the bendy road to pick up his cellphone. He crossed the centre line and came towards us at 100km/hour. My husband braked and swerved and the oncoming car flew past my passenger window and onto the grass on the side of the road. A few inches and we probably all would have been in the news. Well done, that quick-reflexed husband.

So it’s been a strange week full of contradictory feelings. We’ve arrived ‘home’ but are still in transition. We’ve travelled safely around the world only to narrowly avoid dying on SH3. We’re so pleased to see long-lost family and friends, and now miss the rest of them scattered behind us. We’re grateful for all the good things, and know that we’re flipping lucky, and we’re also feeling a bit grumpy and lost.ย Paul might understand.

Mourning Young Man #3

Mourning Young Man #3 (Photo credit: just.Luc), tombstone in cemetery, Elsene/Ixelles, Belgium

All of that is to say that it’s natural and predictable that my mood would be a bit fragile this week, and it has been. ย I’ve felt pretty low, I’ve had less energy, I’ve found it harder to express myself, and I haven’t felt up to communicating with friends: all my usual symptoms in this funny period of postnatal depression.

This morning was better, though. We had a good day together yesterday and woke up feeling positive. I got some good stuff done around the house (always satisfying) and felt like a Proper Organised Mother when I was chopping dinner vegetables while feeding SBJ lunch.


That’s kind of how it feels. One of the features of postnatal depression for me is that I have a limited budget of energy each day, and when it’s used, it’s used.

Suddenly, on a bad day, my brain goes FLUMP. My resilience deflates. I’m stuck under a grey blanket of FLUMP and it’s hard to struggle up out of it to smile at SBJ or decide what task to tackle next or to patch sentences together.

Today I felt it happen and there was no particular trigger. I told my husband about the new FLUMP status and got his help with figuring out how to go about picking up my replacement iPad from town, a logistical question that was now beyond my powers.

We drove down together. When when we got back to the car and found I’d lost my wallet, something else got lost too. For the first time in a while I was sobbing for very little cause, feeling completely bereft and hopeless and ineffectual.

Lucky guy sitting next to me, right? Bless him, he found my wallet (on the floor of the car beside me), took me home and looked after the boy while I played around with some photos online and regained my equilibrium.

A couple of hours later I managed to cook dinner (a major success – this is only the sixth dinner I’ve cooked in five months), thanks to the pre-chopping. It’s 7.30pm now and I’ve been in bed for an hour. But here I am fumbling towards articulacy and trying to remember to fake it till you become it and all the other sensible evidence-based advice for lifting mood. So that’s progress, right?

Wellington at dawn,

Tomorrow will be a better day. There will be Batucada in it, and a birthday party, and no doubt, countless dazzling smiles from my wee boy.

I will try to pace myself, get plenty of rest, a bit of exercise, and be kind to myself. And that will be another day on the way to feeling better. Because I will outlast this.

If youโ€™ve found this post helpful, please feel free to share it around!

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You might also be interested in these related posts:

Other posts in this series on my experience of postnatal depression

How to support someone with postnatal depression

Kathrynโ€™s story of postnatal depression

Jennโ€™s story of PTSD and childbirth

A step-by-step guide to getting more rest

Tips for becoming a great listener

A post on living in the gap between our expectations and the reality of parenthood

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0 comments on “How It Is: Stories of Postnatal Depression: On A Bad Day”

  1. Robyn Ryan Reply

    Thalia ๐Ÿ™‚ Welcome Home to NZ … Huge Hugs as well … We are up in Hamilton “enjoying” our son & his wife & two teenage grandchildren (now almost taller than me & Gary!!! definately taller than their Mum BUT not yet taller than their Dad) … Mother & daughter have “gone to daughters first concert” (Don McGlashen), but first had a pre concert meal with a friend … 16yrs old & “so grown up” (most of the time) ๐Ÿ™‚ Lots of laughter in this “lounge room” right now – son & husband watching Fawlty Towers !!! Grandson busy “playing games” on the computer … Busy household … lots of demands … some clashes … laughter is important !! xxx

  2. Alex Reply

    You’ve had an epic week, by any standards. I am not at all surprised you needed a flump after all of that (awesome word for it, by the way – I know exactly what you mean). I’m glad to know MKR was on hand to drive and find wallets and offer the other support you needed, and congratulations to you for getting that dinner cooked and starting to remember all the very sensible mood-lifting advice – even if it didn’t get you all the way there today, tomorrow will be better. You *will* outlast this. Keep being kind to yourself. Big hugs to you from us here. xx

    • Alex Reply

      PS For when you feel the need for a gentle smile, meet The Flumps – a favourite from my childhood ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Alex Reply

        (I feel I should add that I didn’t actually watch this episode before posting it – I just went for the first one that came up on youtube… On reflection, I could perhaps have chosen a better one.)

  3. asiabible Reply

    Thalia, if you found it “harder to express [your]self” but managed this post you have another thing to brag about, a gift for writing. And a small word of encouragement, public complaint/lament is not only good for your soul, it helps build up others too.

  4. Rachael W Reply

    Thanks for sharing Thalia ๐Ÿ™‚ I really hope you get uplifted by all the people who care about you reading it xxoo

    At the risk of sounding too insensitive and positive, when reading this I thought of another one of those ‘good’ things to do when feeling crap that I learnt about this year {from one of my GP tutors, while we were learning about self care}. Apparently if you keep a diary and write each day 3-5 things for which you are grateful for, and do that daily for 6-8 weeks, you end up happier that when you started off. Something to do with your brain being stuck in a negative groove, and by thinking about positive things you manage to actually change your brain chemistry to more of a positive groove. It has to be physically writing it though, they tried it typing and it didn’t have the same effect!
    So that was something that appealed to me as being a nice, easy, achievable formula! Although when I tried doing it I didn’t manage to stick out the whole 6 weeks ๐Ÿ™‚ From what I did do though, it was amazing how often a good dinner featured… just goes to show I’m ruled by my stomach ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Love and hugs to you, Matt and SBJ xxoo

    Reference: last paragraph on page 10 of this magazine:

    • not a wild hera Reply

      Well, you know how much I love science – thanks for that.

      I think one of the hardest things when you’re in the pit is that mustering the energy to do just about anything that you know is good for you is, by definition, beyond you.

      So it is indeed helpful to have people on the outside of your depression blanket peep in and share some of their energy to get you out in the sunshine.

      Thanks for being one of the peepers.

  5. Caroline Reply

    Not sure I can add much to what has been said above. With your near-miss and all the changes that have been going on recently, it’s not surprising that things have been catching up with you. I hope today is a better day for you. You WILL get through this. Be kind to yourself. I am amazed that you can write so openly about it when you are in the middle of it all – and I’m also amazed that you got round to preparing dinner vegetables at lunchtime!

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