Confidence: Getting it back!

Hi everyone,

Firstly I'd like to say thanks for all the information on the forum. It's the first time me and my partner have actually felt understood as most information we have found has either just been on depression or scary!

I suffered PP after the birth of my first daughter (she is now 8 months old). My symptoms were quick to come on and luckily I was treated quickly and put on Olanzapine which stopped the psychosis quickly. I have had severe depression since but am coping ok on my meds (Aripiprizole and Venlafacine) now and feel quite stable. I avoided hospital by living with my parents and them and my partner working round the clock to care for me and my baby.

Although I generally feel better and am coping with the side effects for the most part I am really struggling with my confidence. My partner has been on a career break and has been truly fantastic but I am fixing it hard to be alone with my baby. When he is around I can do everything and feel fine but I get anxious about being alone with her . I have read that a few of you have had the same issue but you all seem to have recovered. Is confidence something that will just come back with time or is there anything that could help? I am now going to some baby groups and we are making a timetable to build up the time my partner stays away. I'm just worried this won't be quick enough before my partner has to go back to work.

Any suggestions welcome and I will try most things! Thanks very much in advance.

6 Replies

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  • Hi eggs1

    Welcome to the forum and so glad you have found the stories and information here helpful.

    I think like you, many of us found that our confidence as a mum took the longest to recover. It sounds like the strategies you are trying should be very helpful - gradually timetabling periods of time looking after your baby independently and going to baby groups. Lots of mums say they found activity groups such as baby massage, sing and sign or baby yoga helpful as there was a focus and a new skill to learn. I used to take my baby swimming each week with a couple of girlfriends. It was hard to begin with as I was still very depressed, but over time the enjoyment began to build and it became a special time to cuddle my baby and show me that I could do the dressing and feeding her afterwards.

    Another angle to try to reduce the anxiety and rebuild confidence is to find out about any talking therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) available locally to you. Your GP or mental health team can advise you and make a referral. Alternatively many children's centres offer free counselling to parents.

    Lastly yes you are right - time and just doing things independently will build up your bank of positive experiences to boost your confidence. We are here to chat any time or to anawer questions you have along the way.

    Here's a link to our recovery guide with lots more tips

    app-network.org/what-is-pp/...

    Well done for getting to this stage of recovery and having such a positive attitude to trying things to help. You are through the worst now and I'm sure with the great support from your partner you will continue to find your feet as a mum.

    Naomi x

  • Thanks very much for your reply Naomi. I am doing baby yoga, swimming and just started a singing/dancing group so starting to build up some confidence from these. I have recently started CBT so not yet seeing the benefit but sure I will do with time. Fingers crossed hey!

    Thanks again, xxx

  • Hello Eggs1

    Good to know you found the information here helpful to you and your partner. As you have probably read each journey to recovery is different and you have done very well to cope so far.

    As Naomi said I think we all had issues with our confidence and it does take time to build. It's a very daunting experience to be left alone with your baby. Perhaps before your partner returns to work you could plan short periods when he is not with you but not so far away that the experience is stressful for you? This might be a way to build your confidence little by little. Also will the support you have had from your parents be there when your partner returns to work? You may build friendships with mums you meet and could either invite them round for tea / coffee or treat yourself and enjoy time out with them?

    It sounds like you have a Plan 'A' but want a Plan 'B' just in case. I hope you find the right mix to alleviate your anxiety.

    Take very good care of yourself. We are all here for you.

  • Hi

    Really glad you've found the forum, and found the information helpful. I know I did. Your PP journey sounds a bit similar to mine - acute psyhosis that came on very quickly and suddenly, then depression afterwards. I was also on Olanzapine. Well done on getting this far, sounds like you've made some amazing recovery and have achieved so much, and with such brilliant family support by the sound of it.

    I too was on Olanzapine as well, and an anti depressant.

    I guess I would reiterate what others has said. Unfortunately I think some of it is just time that will give you confidence, as you say so yourself. I spent the first 3 months in a MBU. After returning home, my partner worked bits of hours (a bit in the morning, and in the evening) as he works part time, so I was lucky in that most of the time I was maximum 4 hours alone with my baby. On one day he did a 12 hour shift but my parents would come to be with me that day. For quite a while I dreaded the time alone I had - as you say it was a confidence thing, I just couldn't somehow feel that I'd be able to cope with everything, though as you say I was coping very well and doing everything when other people were there. There was one week my parents couldn't come and I did get anxious and it triggered a period of a week or so of depression. CBT helped get me out of it really, she just helped me to think of coping strategies. But I know for some people CBT isn't helpful, everyone is different I think.

    A few things people have said - CBT was a bit of a lifeline for me, it didn't take away everything and wasn't a quick fix, but I could see her whenever I needed (I had her work mobile) so I would see her every time I was struggling particularly with the depression - we would try and figure out why my mood had dropped and give me very practical coping strategies. I don't know if you would have access to this kind of support (e.g. seeing a psychologist flexibly whenever you need) I was with the Early Intervention team and it came with the support they offered. The flexibility of the psychologist was essential - I didn't have to wait a week for example if my mood had dropped before I had another appointment.

    Practical advice - I would try and just structure the day a bit in your mind and have some plans, and they don't need to be grand plans at all. Try and have something social if you can, It's great you are going to the mother and baby groups etc, they can give a bit of a focus/aim for the day, though sometimes for me they would stir difficult feelings (e.g. jealousy of other mums). But the plans don't need to be grand at all. This sounds a bit weird but I would just say to myself OK in the morning I will clean the fridge and put on 2 loads of washing. Lunch. Then walk and a cafe. etc. By doing that I somehow managed to get through the days. And slowly after being alone with my baby consistently and regularly my confidence did build, because I was doing it and nothing disastrous had gone wrong - i think the only way to get through it is to just do it in some ways. And having a routine really helped - doing the same things in the same order every day - It just made me feel safe and in control somehow.

    Anyway hope this is some help.

    Take care

  • Hi Eggs1,

    Like you, my PP came on very quickly and I was treated with olanzapine, which treated my psychotic symptoms and my anxiety. My confidence as a new mother was severely knocked too, and I would have a panic attack just at the thought of changing my son's nappy!

    11 months on, I am still on olanzapine to treat my anxiety and I find some days are worse than others. I agree with the others that it's good to have structure to your day, e.g. breakfast, washing, a walk, coffee with a friend etc.

    Just remember, when it all feels too much or you're having a bad day that your record for getting through those tough days is 100%.

    Keep smiling, it will get better with time.

  • Thanks so much for your advice, it's really helpful. It's so nice thinking that other people are going through the same thing (not that I would wish this on anyone obviously!). I will look to put more structure into my routine definitely and carry on with CBT - wish I could have a bit more flexibility with this but never mind!

    Thanks again, xxx

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