My 10 month old son has been trying his hardest to walk over the past few days. This time last year I was pregnant and preparing for his arrival. This time last year I was also contemplating suicide. I can’t believe how far my son and I have both come in the last year … my baby’s developments since his birth also seem to mirror my recovery from depression.
Having a baby is a process – pregnancy, labour, the birth, and then the baby’s development in to adulthood. Similarly, recovering from depression is a process with many different stages.
In the womb, a baby is shrouded in darkness, protected from the outside world inside his mother’s body. That is until he is forced in to this big, bright world, crying his little heart out. The first step in beating depression is to admit that you’ve been in your dark, black tomb for too long, cushioning yourself from the world by hiding inside your own mind. Like childbirth, forcing yourself out in to the ‘light’ is hard work, but so worth it in the end.
One of the first things a baby learns is to smile. They learn by studying other people’s faces and watching their lips curl up with happiness. When my son smiled for the first time he was so shocked and scared he cried. I also had to learn how to smile again. I would look at other people laughing and smiling and long to feel that joy. Just like my son, I cried when I smiled for the first time after seeking treatment for depression. I realised I was starting to feel better and that was a huge deal.
My son then started to gain head control. He would lie on his tummy and concentrate so hard on lifting his blonde head up so he could see the world around him. He was growing up and getting stronger by the day. So was I. I felt like I was finally able to hold my head above the dark, murky water I had been drifting under for so long. I could look around my world with new hope.
Crawling was the next step in baby’s development. He exerted an enormous amount of energy daily, dragging his body around the floor in order to experience more from his surroundings. I also made a huge effort to drag myself out of the house, to meet friends, go for walks and experience the life I loved before I had depression. It was tiring but I felt so proud of myself when I was lying in bed at night, recounting the day’s activities.
Now my son is taking his first real steps. Yes they are wobbly and his big brother pushes him over, but each time he falls he gets up back up again and is stronger than before. I realise that in the years to come he will fall down many times and graze his knees, but Mummy will always be there with a cuddle and a plaster to make him better. I also know that I will have down days in the future. But with help and encouragement from my loved ones, I too will pick myself up and be a stronger person for it.