I am 43 years old and a GP, and I never thought this would happen to me.
In 2007 I gave birth to my daughter. My little boy was almost 3. Not long after she was born I began to feel anxious and very flat, even whilst still in hospital. I was familiar with"baby blues", but this was different. She was an unsettled baby and cried a lot which I am sure didn't help my state of mind. I was caring for my baby's needs, but I was struggling to have an emotional connection with her. I really felt like she wasn't mine. I remember thinking at one point that it would make sense if someone came to my door to say there was a mistake and that she wasn't my baby. Everyone told me how beautiful she was and what a great job I was doing. I didn't believe them.
I spiraled into a deep depression. I was tired, but I couldn't sleep. I was avoiding social contact, because it was too hard to pretend that I was okay. I wasn't eating and started losing a lot of weight. I felt very detached from my life and those around me.
I clearly remember the day when I first thought about suicide. It frightened me. I felt trapped, in a cage without a key. That day, while standing in my laundry, I made an appointment with a GP. I am so glad that I did. For the first time I was able to reach out and explain how I felt and how scared and lonely I was. I was promptly referred to a psychiatrist despite my reluctance to admit I was in need of specialist help.
By this stage I had lost 15 kg and was underweight. I was lethargic, irritable and consumed with suicidal ideation. With the help of my GP and psychiatrist I was able to receive the treatment and counselling that I desperately needed. I was very close to hospitalisation but thankfully my doctors were able to treat me as a outpatient. Over several months, and after trying different antidepressants, I was seeing benefits from the right medication. Eventually I was able to confide in a 2 close girlfriends and my mother. I wish I had done that earlier! It was a huge step to no longer feel alone.
This was a frightening time in my life. I had 2 beautiful children, a lovely home and wonderful friends and family around me, but I wanted to disappear. I wanted to run away.
It was a long road to recovery, but I got there! It probably took 2 years to get back on track and I could not have done it on my own. In hindsight, I wish I had reached out to others earlier, I wish I had asked for more help, I wish I had been able to utilise a support group like PANDA. To know there really is a light at the end of the tunnel, that it really does get better!