'I lie to my health visitor. I lie to myself': the truth about postnatal depression

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It took months for me to accept a diagnosis for the pain and outrage I felt. Could I find my way through?

It is the worst of times and the worst of times. Brighton, May 2017. I am bone-tired, shoving a buggy through jostling crowds. The sun is beating down. People are sitting in deck chairs, enjoying the first blast of early summer. But this is no ordinary Sunday on the seafront. Either side of me, two lines of polished parked cars – all Minis – stretch into the distance. There are Minis in every possible colour and style. Some are themed like cartoon characters or sporting heroes. Some have eyelashes. Some have stickers on the bonnet and furry seats inside. Hundreds of people walk – no, amble – in between, admiring the cars. The crowd flows one way. I am trapped. On I trudge, trying not to run over any feet, children, or dogs, trying not to make eye contact with the smiling faces, the shiny, happy people basking in the Mini Love.

I had set out from my flat not knowing where I was going, just needing to walk, to get out, to put one foot in front of the other, to do something that felt vaguely autonomous. These walks are the only choice I have left. I slammed the door, cursed the lift that never arrives (No 1 Bane of My Life) crossed the road, crossed the perilous cycle path, cursed at a cyclist (Bane No 2) and turned left along the front. I stomped along the promenade, past the i360 viewing tower, past the seafood shacks and the smokehouse, the ice-cream stalls, past the pier, lit up and heaving, the crazy golf and the aquarium. Brighton is a place where people come for holidays, for hen dos and high jinks. It’s a place of merriment and celebration. I am a dark cloud over it. My partner, The Cartoonist, actually said that to me this morning. “It’s like living with a dark cloud.” He has said kind things, too. He mostly says kind things. He is a man at the end of his rope.

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