My name is Heather and pre baby I was working as a visual merchandiser with retail. Looking back while I was pregnant I had a few times were I over reacted and had higher anxiety that I should of. This was never caught. There was never any questions about my mental Heath at my check ups. Even though I had a history of depression.
I was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression when my daughter was 4 months old. At the time were living in Melbourne. That first part of out life were hard. There were days that were a fog and I can’t remember. I remember been in the supermarket not remembering why or even how I got there, I think I was just walking around crying. The amount of times that I would leave the house and just be so anxious, often close to a panic attack. Though with therapy and medication I was slowly getting better. Well I was until a certain point. It's like I got half way and stopped. I had a great therapist and fantastic Maternal Health Nurse, we had very little other support in Melbourne because no one but my sister was based there. There are a lot of things about living in Victoria were better, the maternal health nurse system being one, but we needed more support, we needed to make our “village” bigger.
We moved from Melbourne to Brisbane just over a year and a half ago (my husband is from Brisbane) Moving to Brisbane in the short term was very hard, even though in the long term it was the best for us, I got much worse before I got better. It was not the total solution to our problems that we were hoping for. Looking back I do see that because we had the family support I was able to break and fall apart and then build myself up again. I could not do that in Melbourne. I used PANDA a lot before I found a therapist in Brisbane.
It did take a long time in Brisbane to get to were I am now. When it became apparent that I my medication was not working as it should any more my GP wanted to send me to a psychiatrist to review my medication. I could not go because even with the Medicare rebate it was far to much. And there was no public option for someone at my level of help. I really feel like I had to wait to get worse before I got the help I needed.
And one night I was doing the night time bath/bedwith Nora(by chance my husband was away for the night for work). It was like all the dark thoughts I had been having came to ahead, I became sducidal. I started making plans. While this was happing I was crying uncontrollably . It was Nora who came up to me and asked ‘are you ok mummy?’, and I thought she should not be making sure I am ok. I need help, I got her in to the car and drove to family. It was a very dark night I can’t remember everything. I ended up with the Acute Care Team at the P.A. Hospital the next day. Then again a few months latter, as the meds I had been put on were not working.
I had support though other means while this was going on too. I have a amazing supportive husband (been though depression himself he knew what I was feeling and what was going on ) agreat therapist and Peach Tree (a post natal depression support group), but I still needed the acute care team. We could not afford hospital cover so a option like Belmont was not available to me. After seeing the Acute Care Team (who are amazing), I felt like there was not a lot of follow up. I went back to my GP and therapist but I didn’t feel like that was enough.
Peach tree were a massive support to me. I still go to the support groups as maintenance now. I cannot stress enough what a great job they do, especially now knowing they run solely on donations and volunteers. Peach Tree has filled a gap that Melbourne was missing and I wish they could do more. There are still major gaps but at least some are getting filled.It's a shame they get no government money.
I have slowly been able to get better and I am doing well. Learning to cope with my PND has allowed us to deal with the additional pressure of my husband studying to allow us to make our life better. It still has been hard having very low funds (thank goodness we know how to budget). When my husband has finished studying I am going to study so I can do something to change the system. That way if my daughter suffers from PND she will not have the gaps I have had. Everyone should get the help they need.
What I would say to other parents is get your village together. This includes family, therapist, friends etc… You can not do it alone. But I would also say is do the research yourself, find out things yourself. My GP did not know about the acute care team at the PA. I went off gluten (for another reason) but it has massively improved my mental health. I found out the info after by chance. Get a meditation app on you phone. There are so many things to try. The most import thing is everything takes time, some times a very very very long time.