Bristol author Jen Faulkner on tackling post-natal depression
Post-Natal depression affects many families; and it affected mine. I am a mum to three beautiful children and have suffered either pre or postnatal depression with each of them. It is a debilitating illness that affects the entire family and I was painfully aware of this after the birth of my third child when I was at my most ill. I witnessed my older children, then three and eleven, look at me with confusion when I was crying again and asked me why I was so sad. I saw them shy away from me when I was irritable and tip-toe around me when I was locked in my own anxiety ridden hell. It wasn’t their fault, it wasn’t anything yet they’d done, but it know they were affected by it. I know they were confused by what was happening to their mum who was such a confident and lively person.
Reaching out to them, and anyone in fact, when I was ill was hard. I hated asking for help and for a while battled with the reality of the illness, refusing to believe it had taken me in it’s grasp. Yet I did want to reach out to them, I did want to explain why it was happening to me and that it wouldn’t be like this forever. So I wrote the poem ‘A Monster Ate My Mum,’ which looks at post natal depression through the eyes of a child. My children loved the story and it prompted some very honest and open discussions about the illness. It helped us so much; even my husband understood a little bit more about what I was going through after reading the poem.
The poem tells of a little boy whose mum is not the same as she was. The young boy hunts the different monsters who have taken parts of his mum; her smile, her spark, her laugh.
“Excuse me but have you eaten my mum?
I want her back I want some fun.
I want to see her smile mum mum.
Is she in your big round tum?”
The brave boy learns that they didn’t mean to eat his mum and that in time, all of the things they have taken will be returned.
“No she’s not here I just ate her smile.
I’ll give it back after a while.
I’m sorry I was hungry you see.
I don’t know where your mum could be.”
The book is available to purchase on Lulu and will soon be available as an ebook through Amazon Direct Publishing.