Sam is incredibly resilient. She experienced antenatal depression through both her pregnancies, and postnatal depression early on in her second daughter’s life. One of her steps to recovery was acknowledging the importance of personal space and making time to do the things she enjoys, often as simple as waking up before the kids so she can have a coffee.
Another was running. Sam walked Point to Pinnacle in Hobart in 2017 (due to injury) to raise funds and awareness for PANDA, she plans to run it this year and raise more money too. She says the run up the mountain symbolises the uphill battle she faced, overcoming her obstacles “getting over them and reaching the top of the mountain”.
When Sam became pregnant with her second daughter, she was as physically fit as she’d ever been. When her first daughter Natalie was 16 months old Sam ran a full marathon. Three weeks later she was pregnant with Heidi.
“My physio was rapt!” she says. “She said my body was in the best condition to have a baby. But then I had to stop running at 20 weeks because I developed an issue with the joints in my pelvis (SPD). It really affected how I felt about the pregnancy.”
“It’s a complete life style change, fairly dramatically and quickly. You expect that closer to your due date you might have to give up some of these things but not at 20 weeks. I had to stop work earlier too, at 32 weeks with Heidi. I wanted to make it to 36 weeks but my body called it quits earlier.”
Sam struggled through to the birth, and through the first few weeks of Heidi’s life. But her mood gradually worsened. At times she would feel so low that she felt her family would be better off without her.
“Sometimes I would think, ‘how good would it be to just fall asleep and not wake up again?’. I was thinking about leaving my husband and the girls all by themselves. It didn’t make any sense to me but at the same time I wanted to do it.”
“You get so tired. That tiredness of having a second child is so much worse than the first. And you just think, oh my god! I never want to be woken up by my kids again.”
In the midst of her struggles Sam called PANDA’s National Helpline. “It was amazing,” she says. “They had the ability to turn me from a blubbering mess to someone who could face the rest of the day. They had this way of not making me feel like a pain in the butt for calling. I felt like they were there specifically for my call.”
Things came to a head when Heidi was about ten weeks old. Sam’s husband came home for lunch one day, and when he went to head back to work she couldn’t let him leave.
“I stopped him and he said ’what’s wrong?’ I yelled a few things, but basically the end of the story was that I didn’t want to be here anymore. My husband didn’t want to do anything until I called PANDA. Eventually he called them for me.”
PANDA arranged for the mental health team to come to their house. Sam was put under surveillance for 24 hours and then went to a Mother Baby Unit.
“PANDA got everything in place, they got the mental health crisis team over to our house. In my mind they saved my life.”
Going to the Mother Baby Unit was the first step on Sam’s road to recovery. She joined a mother’s group circle that they held every week, and met more mums who were going through the same things. Finding those connections helped Samsee she wasn’t alone.
“I felt like we were all just a bit crazy! Everyone is, and that’s OK.”
Once she got home it was a slow recovery. “I gradually started to feel like I wanted to be alive. I was still having tough days but at least now I knew that everyone had them.”
Sam continues to catch up weekly with one of the mums from her group who had kids of a similar age. “We get along really well, we found out our stories are really similar. We chat openly about medication, which was helpful as I was coming of mine earlier this year”. We talk about what keeps us grounded. She’s renovating her house, I’ve got my running and stuff and that keeps me grounded. Everyone has something that keeps them going.”
Now, Sam has become good at standing guard over her solitude because she understands its importance to her recovery. “I wake up to my own alarm to either exercise or go to work before the kids wake up. It’s good for me to wake up by myself and have a coffee. If I go too many mornings in a row where I sleep until the kids wake up and I get jumped on I don’t feel great.”
When she reflects on her experience Sam remembers feeling like a burden, feeling like she wasn’t important. “Mostly I just remember that conversation with my husband in the kitchen, how scared I was.” What would she say to someone experiencing something similar? “I would tell them that they’re not a burden. Everyone deserves help. It doesn’t matter how minor or major you think things are. Everyone deserves it. So take help if it’s there. Don’t think you’re not worthy of help.”
Now, Sam says she’s doing really well and is enjoying watching her oldest daughter grow up into a tiny person while her toddler does funny toddler things. She’s come through this experience with perspective, an understanding that she has the ability to cope with any changes life throws into the mix.
- Info & Support
- After Birth
- Postnatal Anxiety & Depression Recovery Stories
- Postnatal Depression Recovery Stories
- Sam's Story
"Everyone deserves help. It doesn’t matter how minor or major you think things are. Everyone deserves it. So take help if it’s there. Don’t think you’re not worthy of help.”
PANDA’s National Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Helpline
1300 726 306 9am – 7.30pm Mon – Fri (AEST/AEDT)
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