Post Natal Depression: THEN and NOW

By Louise Barker

The morning sun poured through the Venetian blinds filling the room with blazing light.  Ellie squeezed her eyes shut and pulled the sheet over her head.  ‘Wake up dear.  Time for your medication.’  A voice in space cut through her thick foggy head.  Ellie groaned.   ‘Ellie. Come on now.  I have a lot to do.’ Ellie squinted up at the blurred vision in her blue outfit.  Reluctantly she sat up and took the water and two small tablets.  Her tongue was heavy in her mouth and she felt the shape of the tablets in her throat. She took another gulp of water and collapsing again onto the pillow, welcoming the emptiness that washed over her.

Annie stirred, turned in the bed and tried to move her arms which remained firmly by her side. Her eyes flickered open.   Her head was thumping and her mouth achingly dry.  She could feel the tightness of cracks in her lips.  The light coming through the small barred window was bleak and Annie had to blink to steady her vision.  Gradually the shape of the room emerged. She took in the blank walls and concrete floor. Her breathe quickened and she shuddered at the desolate emptiness.  A vague question formed as her eyelids descended and she slid into nothingness.  Where am I?

Ellie sat up suddenly.  Max.  Where was he? Where was her baby? She pressed the red button.  ‘Nurse’  Her voice sounded foreign to her, croaky and small.  ‘Nuuurrssse.’ She screamed hoarsely. ‘Where’s my baby?’  Her hand smashed into the buzzer again.  ‘Maaaax…’    Two nurses hurried into the room.  ‘Shhhhh dear.   You just need to rest at the moment.  Your baby is fine.’  Ellie screamed again her arms flailing.  ‘Maaaxxx!  I want my baby.’   She felt the pressure of hands on her arms then a sharp prick as she fell down, down through space.

‘You have a visitor.’  The matron prodded Annie who looked up blank faced, eyes glazed and slowly took in the man standing beside her.  ‘Thomas.’ She whispered. ‘Are we going home?’  Thomas sat down opposite her and stared at his wife in her crumpled hospital gown, repulsed.   Her blank face and watery eyes, her hair tangled and limp.  This was the best place for her, he thought.  After all she really hadn’t been much of a mother after baby Sarah was born, dragging herself through her chores only to return to bed as soon as she could. She’d become slovenly.   Annie’s sister Jane was doing a marvellous job caring for the baby and the five children and tending to Thomas’s needs. No Annie must not come home.

‘Dear’ he forced himself to take her hand, noticing with a grimace the bitten down nails. ‘You are getting the best care here for your hysteria. You must stay here and get well again.  These things take time.’  Annie’s face was expressionless and Thomas felt nervous.  Clearing his throat he stood up.  ‘I don’t know when I’ll be back Annie. It’s very difficult coping managing the household and my job.  I don’t have a minute spare.  I’ll do my best to come and see you.’  Annie watched him walk away and knew she would never see her husband again. She put her face in her hands and sobbed, her heart aching for her darling children, baby Sarah and little Eric, Margaret who would be fussing over the little ones although only six herself, her two beautiful boys, Henry and George.  She must get well, she must.

The afternoon sun cast stripy shadows across the room.  Ellie lay staring despondently at the shadows, mentally tracing each stripe from the bed to the floor to the window to the world outside.  ‘When will I be out there again, back in the world?’  ‘Ellie’ she heard the deep voice behind her.  Was she imagining it?  ‘Babe. I’m here.’ Slowly Ellie turned her head and felt the warm kiss on her cheek.  ‘Sit up love.  I’ve brought Max.’  Ellie wriggled the pillows in place and sat up taking the baby in her arms.  Oh the familiar weight of his little body, the smell of him.  ‘Tomorrow love. They said you’ll be out tomorrow. You’re coming home.”  Ellie nuzzled Max’s little face with her nose, tears falling onto his cheeks.  ‘I’m coming home Maxie.’ She whispered.

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