Mental health – a subject not talked about enough, it can be surrounded with stigma and misunderstanding and often people who are suffering feel too ashamed or scared to speak up. This needs to change – we all have our own unique story – different times, places and circumstances but we all share the same illness – none of us choose it.
What causes post natal depression? I think the short answer to this is that no one knows for sure, I suspect mine was to do with hormones, I have always been susceptible to mood changes in relation to my cycle but never thought it would manifest to such an extent after my baby was born.
After the birth of my son – postnatal depression crept up on me slowly and gradually chipped away at me piece by piece. By the time my son was 7 months old I knew something was seriously wrong. On the outside I had the perfect life – a new baby, a new home, a loving husband and supportive family. On the inside I was slowly falling apart – I was having trouble sleeping, feeling lonely, scared and was completely exhausted trying to pretend that everything was OK.
I put those early symptoms down to recovering form the quick birth ( I was in hospital for less than 24 hours before getting home) and also adjusting to life as a new parent. With a house move in a couple of months to my dream family home I convinced myself that all would be better when we moved house. Not surprisingly It didn’t – and things quickly escalated – I started to suffer with crippling anxiety attacks and started to doubt myself as a mother. I didn’t feel like me anymore, I had no self confidence and felt guilty that despite having everything I had every wanted – I was desperately struggling to get through each day. When I realised that the house didn’t help me feel better I diverted my focus on Christmas with only 6 weeks until Christmas I pinned all my hopes and directed all my energy on this – I wanted the perfect Christmas for our first as a family of three, I focused my mind on this – if I could only get through Christmas Day it would all be ok – I would be OK. I got through that Christmas Day – just hanging by a thread – but Boxing Day 2013 my world caved in and I simply couldn’t cope anymore. What I was feeling was not normal and after discussions with my husband I made an appointment early in the new year to see my GP.
My diagnosis postnatal depression and anxiety with late onset – it was a relief in many ways that I was not losing my mind – I was ill – it wasn’t my fault and that with the correct help and support I would get better. I guess that was where my journey really began – a journey that would change me in ways I could never imagine.