The second part to the segment on post-natal depression. A reminder to all that despite someone seeming like they’re okay, they’re coping and they’re happy: this isn’t always the reality. Check up on loved ones, and then check up on them again. #asktwice
1. What have been your biggest struggles with post-natal depression?
The main thing I have struggled with is life. Trying to get on with life. Trying to be a mum, a girlfriend , a daughter , a sister, a friend . It’s all part of the fear. The fear that I will fail at all of these things . The fear of not being who they want, what they need me to be. And that’s the biggest struggle that hurts the most.
2. What age was your child when you first began suffering from PND?
I didn’t realise I was suffering with PND at all. I think my son was around 4 months old when I was finally realising something wasn’t quite right.
3. Was there any support/help available to you when you were in crisis? If not, how did this make you feel?
I am a very reserved person so I didn’t put myself out there. Again, with the fear of being a failure, I kept it all to myself. Which was probably the worst thing I could have ever done. But, I wrote my feelings down, and I eventually learnt to be brave enough to talk to those closest to me and be honest about it. And that was the biggest support I had.
4. Had anyone spoken to you about the risks of pnd during your pregnancy or after the birth of your child?
No one had ever mentioned any risk of post-natal depression during my pregnancy. I wasn’t even aware that I could suffer from it. The only mention about it was from my first visit from the health visitor, and to be honest, it was very slightly touched on. Very slightly.
5. How do you feel mental health is portrayed in the media?
There are so many stories about mental health, so many conversations, so many posters etc etc, but everyone is different and everyone suffers differently . I believe that there is no proper variety explained, not enough words of honesty and support.
6. When did you or someone else realise that something wasn’t right & what were the signs?
I started to just feel empty. I had no motivation. Cancelled on friends . Didn’t go outside. And after a while, I knew this wasn’t the euphoric moment of motherhood… so what was? So, I sat down with a pen and paper and wrote out 2 pages of what made me sad. And it all added up to life. I told my partner what I was doing, and he read it as soon as I finished. And he was so strong, so caring and understanding and made a promise that we would work on each bullet point and each bullet point would be what made me happy instead.
7. What advice would you give to someone else who may be suffering with PND?
It’s tough. It’s so tough as it’s difficult to understand. And it’s easy to just say to speak out, be honest, but it’s not easy to act on. My advice would be that if you’re afraid to speak, write it down. As even though it’s still silent, you’ve still got it out. You’ve made the step of taking your thoughts out of that black cloud. And eventually you’ll be able to read what you wrote, and out loud, to others. And to remember it’s OK. Everything will be OK. Eventually.
8. How do you feel your experiences have shaped you as a person?
I’m still in recovery and it’s a slow process, but one where I think I’ve become more stronger in belief, in promise, and in honesty. And I can now firmly say that I am a great mum, a great girlfriend, a great daughter, a great sister and a great friend. And I know, I believe it’s OK to be me.
9. What are common misconceptions surrounding PND?
“Maybe it’s the sign of the baby blues”, “it’ll pass” , blah blah. It’s something that if it’s misunderstood, it’s made general , it’s stereotyped. But, it is a mental health illness, some caused by trauma, anxiety and as I have said before, everyone is different, everyone suffers in a different way, and I believe that more people should be made aware of it, on how to support, or even just on how to be there.
10. Do you speak openly about your mental health? If not, how do you feel people would react if you did?
A year on, I am very open about my PND. It’s taken a long time to get where I am, and I do still have a long way to go, but I am more than happy to talk about it. To answer questions. To help. I think PND needs more support, I think it needs to be touched on a lot more during pregnancy, introduced into the pre-natal classes. Because I’ve been there, I’ve seen a serious dark side and it kills me to know that so many people are out there, stuck in there.