Regaining confidence with my son?

Hi ladies,

I feel so ashamed writing this but from reading other posts, I can see how lovely you all are and if anybody could possibly understand I think it will be you.

I gave birth to my son whilst in an extremely abusive situation which eventually led to moving to a refuge just before my son turned 1. I had already been diagnosed with PP Depression & anxiety by this point but I found it just about manageable, despite my husband being abusive.

Once we left, my husband continued to be abusive and controlling and then some other life events happened which led to a complete and utter breakdown and basically since November my son hasn't lived with me :( I do see him every single day but every time I would try to get him back, something would happen and I have completely lost confidence if I am honest.

Nobody has ever stopped me having him but I have agreed with professionals and agencies etc that he shouldn't witness me when very unwell and I am thankful that I have been able to identify this so I have had him overnight on some occasions and in the days on occasions as well but it is at a point now where I really, really want to work on my confidence so I can have him back full time.

I just don't know where to start :( I feel like the absolute worst Mum in the world, he is my whole world and I feel I have let him down so much by not being able to look after him myself. I know he has constantly felt loved as he is with my Mum at night and a childminder who is fantastic in the day but to be honest, now when I am on my own with him I am terrified and don't know what to do. I realised how bad it had got tonight when my Mum suggested tonight she go to the shops whilst I had him for a bit and I just felt so panicked and like I would fail him and not cope. The ridiculous thing is on days where he hasn't been well and not been able to go to the childminder, I have coped absolutely fine!

Any ideas on how to rebuild my confidence? I would speak to professionals but they basically aren't around. They are meant to be but they aren't and no matter how many times I have asked for help it doesn't happen unfortunately.

Thank you and sorry the long post. x

6 Replies

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  • Hello charl_89

    Welcome to the forum and thank you for sharing your experience. Please don't feel ashamed as there is no one here to judge or offend. I'm so sorry you endured an abusive relationship which led to a complete breakdown. That must have been so hard and I admire you for coping with so much.

    Although this forum is for mums who have had Postpartum Psychosis (PP), a serious mental illness following childbirth, many of us have also experienced depression. I had PP many years ago twice, six years apart. During my recovery from my second PP I was hit by what seemed like a never ending depression, lasting for more than a year. So I understand how draining this is for you. I also had crippling anxiety which was also very hard to deal with.

    I think you have been through such a lot that it will take time for you to heal. I'm sorry the professionals aren't available and haven't helped although you have asked them. Perhaps you could book an appointment with your GP to ask about your ongoing care plan as you should be supported?

    You are a great mum as you have made sure that your son is happy with the childminder during the day and with his grandmother at night. It's understandable that you were anxious tonight so try not to be so hard on yourself. I think you will slowly be able to build your confidence with the support of your mum being with you to care for your son. Just take things slowly and don't put too much pressure on yourself. Given what you have already been through, you are coping really well.

    There will be other mums here to offer their support and possibly links to groups which might be helpful. Take good care of yourself.

  • Hi

    Please please try not to feel guilty about the fear you have of spending time alone with your child. You have been to hell and back with your experiences - the abuse you've endured and pnd. It's more that most people live through in a lifetime. Yet through all of this you've successfully managed to provide quality care for your son even when you've not been able to look after him yourself. Try to take great pride in your achievements.

    I think feeling scared of looking after your son is quite an expected reaction . Although I understand why you feel the way you do you can and will build up that confidence. Have you spoken to your mum about this? Maybe the way forward is taking it slowly - so spend time with your son alone whilst your mum is in the house first of all then build up - so she could leave you for 5 mins initially. During that time practise distraction and relaxation techniques.

    Possibly look at confidence building courses. I know some gps surgeries run them.

    I just wanted to tell you that after my first child was born I felt the same when my partner went to work and I didn't have PNI so you're not alone at all.

    All the best x

  • Hello Charl_89

    I think you are amazing. To have to cope with PP, depression, anxiety, a breakdown AND an abusive relationship is horrific beyond words.

    To be able to arrange with your mum to have your son at night and to have organised a childminder who is so good with him in the day takes skill and perception. Maybe 1 route to go down would be to have a good chat with your mum about the things you could do during some time set aside in the evening, you and your mum together and then when you feel ready, on your own with him: hold him in your arms, feed him, put some toys out, talk to him about anything positive that comes to mind because even very young children love communication. This will help you continue to bond and this will help your confidence to grow.

    This is what I did as I had absolutely no confidence in looking after my son when I went into the mother and baby unit. I didn't know whether he needed feeding, changing, or what he needed. So when I felt I needed to cuddle him I picked him up and put him in bed with me for an hour or so just before it was time to get up. I know this isn't advised but I was in a psychiatric unit surrounded by strangers and wondered if he needed a hug as much as I did.

    Gradually with the help and support of the staff I learned to respond to his needs and as I got better at that my confidence improved. I realise all this may or may not work for you but I just wanted to reach out in the hope it helps your confidence to grow. I'll bet you are a great mum and your son is lucky to have such a loving, caring mum. xx

  • Hello Charl_89

    I just thought I'd add another little note which cane to mind after I posted my reply last night. Please don't worry if you feel your son is too young to understand what you are saying at the moment. The important thing is to talk to him, make eye contact and he will get to recognise the sound of your voice and enjoy the contact. xx

  • Hello Charl_89,

    Please do not fear your own capabilities as you are doing really well. Your experiences have been very traumatising and you are developing a support network with mum and professionals in order to act in the best interest of your child's health and welfare.

    I did have PPP in 2010 and I was unable to look after my child in the first few months, but with the help of my partner, other family members and professionals I gradually was able to take on responsibilities of my own and subsequently developed more and more confidence in taking care of my son.

    Look after yourself, thinking of you.

    Sabine :-)

  • I have had really low confidence in my parenting and that's with a supportive husband! I don't know what the nature of the abuse you've experienced is but often a feature of an abusive partner is that they will put you down and criticise you so many women who have not had PP would feel very low in confidence.you've got that the trauma of PP and homelessness/being rehoused,no wonder you've been finding it tough. Do you know what, it sounds like your decisions have been based on keeping your wee boy safe and that is really to be commended. You will gradually find your feet, keep going! I feel much more confident with my son after 15 months, although still doubt myself at times and find counselling helps me recognise the negative thoughts for what they are, just thoughts. I hope you have someone you can trust that you can confide in. Xx

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