I’m sharing my story in the hope that it helps other mum’s living with postnatal anxiety and depression because I want them to know that there is help out there and that what they’re going through is something that they should NOT be ashamed of. I found that I didn’t know where to seek help or who to turn to when I was trying to find the answers about how and why I was feeling the way I did. I also think that there is not enough information available for parents that have postnatal anxiety and depression and a lot of people don't know where they can seek help. My only hope in sharing my story is that I can break the stigma surrounding postnatal anxiety & depression and increase awareness about where to seek help and support.
A bit about my story….
I was in denial, and I tried to tell myself that “you are fine’’! I felt like all of my friends had it worked out and that I was one massive hopeless failure. The thing I know now is that nobody has it worked out! We are all just trying to do the best we can and every mother is different and that’s OK.
If there’s anything that I’ve learnt since becoming a mother, it’s to never judge another mother for their choices and decisions. More often than not, someone you know is fighting a battle that you have no idea about. The thing about postnatal anxiety and depression is that nobody really likes or wants to talk about it. I was battling some nasty demons and at the time it was very hard to see the light. All I felt was guilt, shame, embarrassment and failure.
Postnatal depression & anxiety was scary, confronting and threatening, not just for me but for my family. I felt like I was fighting what seemed like a never ending battle.
I had a traumatic birth (I was later diagnosed with post- traumatic stress) and everything went downhill from there. My labour was quick, intense and scary. I thought that my daughter was going to die and it was something that I just couldn’t get my head around no matter how hard I tried. After she was born and placed in my arms, I couldn’t comprehend what I had just been through and I couldn’t explain how I felt to anyone. It was like I was living in a time warp and everyone around me was moving forward but I was staying in the one spot too scared to move. I suddenly felt like everything was falling apart. And it did….
Even the strongest of people have a threshold. It’s such a scary feeling. Especially when you’ve just become a new mother to a beautiful baby. I knew I was suffering, but I tried very hard to cover it up and pretend that everything was ok. That was the worst thing I could have done. I know that now. I was struggling with low self- esteem and confidence and everything that I had achieved was slowly slipping away from me. During this time I googled every little thing, I was reactive and I saw numerous professionals regarding breast feeding. It wasn't helping it was just making things worse. So after I reached the lowest point of my life, I started seeing a psychiatrist and she diagnosed me with having severe postnatal anxiety and depression.
Anxiety was not a new thing to me - I have suffered with it before but I thought that I had put all of that behind me. But that’s the thing about anxiety it creeps up on you when you least expect it. It was a combination of complications through my pregnancy, a traumatic birth, my grandmother dying of cancer two days before my baby was born and being unable to breastfeed which made me feel like a failure. It was all of these factors that lead me to feeling like an inadequate mother. Becoming a mother also brought up a whole lot of painful memories about my father leaving my mother before I was born.
I decided I was going to work really hard to get myself better and I realised quite a few things about myself. I realised that a big issue for me was a fear of being judged. I always had been! I think because I had gone through my whole life not knowing my biological father, I always felt like I needed to live up to these high expectations that I had set for myself because I felt I was not worthy. So I made a decision that I needed to finally put this behind me and move forward. It was not an easy thing to do. But this is what I did:
- I saw my pychiatrist regularly;
- I started therapy;
- I practised my mindfulness techniques every day (and I still do);
- I walked and exercised (a lot);
- I asked for help and spoke to my husband when I was not coping;
- I started to try and be as open and honest with people about my struggle (it’s been very difficult for me to do this); and
- I found out about my biological father and his extended family.
Bit by bit I started confronting long standing issues and shedding all my baggage. I started enjoying things again (including being a mother). The road to recovery is not an easy one but with the right help and support you can get there.
I have since had another baby who is now 7 months old. My son developed silent reflux at around 4 weeks and ended up in hospital with gastro. I started struggling with breastfeeding again and slowly I started to feel my anxiety coming back. When I say struggling with breastfeeding there was not one thing in particular that I could say I struggled with it was a whole range of things. I still don't quite understand it myself but there was something in my head telling me that I wasn't going to be able to do it. It happened with both of my babies and I still really struggle with it. My anxiety made me question and doubt everything that I was doing but I was determined to get help early this time. I went to my GP and started seeing my psychiatrist again. Slowly things started to settle down. The difference this time around was that I was able to make some clear decisions and I wasn't afraid to ask for help.
I was ashamed to share my story for so long because I didn’t want to be judged. I’m not scared or ashamed of sharing my story anymore. I hope that I can help other parents feel that they are not alone and that they can and should seek help as early as possible.
- Info & Support
- After Birth
- Postnatal Anxiety & Depression Recovery Stories
- Postnatal Anxiety Recovery Stories
- Jane Vic story
"I was in denial, and I tried to tell myself that “you are fine’’! I felt like all of my friends had it worked out and that I was one massive hopeless failure. The thing I know now is that nobody has it worked out! We are all just trying to do the best we can and every mother is different and that’s OK."