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It took me a long time to seek support. Too long. I knew something wasn’t right but had so many fears about seeking help. I thought my son would be taken away from me, that maybe I was just going crazy or that seeking help would mean I could no longer work as a counsellor again myself. In hindsight it started for me during pregnancy. Our pregnancy was not planned and I was in my early 20’s living a carefree life. I can recall moments where I would just leave the house, not tell my partner where I was going and just drive. I did not know where I was driving to, I just drove. On these drives I would have thoughts of how I could take my own life after the baby was born.
Months later my beautiful son was born. Birth was an empowering experience for me and I felt great for the first few months. Around 4 months old he returned to waking every couple of hours and this is when things started to go downhill for me again. I can recall staring at him in his cot, but it was like I was standing elsewhere watching over myself. I wasn’t present, I couldn’t move or respond, I would just stare as he cried for me. I now know this was dissociation and probably explains why much of this period in my life is a blur. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness and intense anger were overpowering. Intrusive thoughts of not being good enough and being a failure returned. As they returned, so too did the thoughts of suicide and self harm and the most awful part of all – the intrusive thoughts and images to hurt my baby.
I did not know what to do with these thoughts so instead of hurting my son I would hurt myself. My world felt like it was collapsing around me. I spent a long time googling symptoms online which included reading the stories of other Mother’s experiences. I don't know what the catalyst was, but one day I just decided enough was enough and sought help. I was admitted to the Mother Baby Unit, which although scary, was the best decision of my life. I got the help I needed, felt understood and no longer alone.
Recovery for me meant I had to go through a huge transition. I had to learn to let go of the person I was before my pregnancy and embrace Motherhood and the ‘new me'. Recovery isn't an easy process, nor is it a short one. It is something that means regularly checking in with yourself and how you are doing, asking for support and taking time out when you know you need to. Today I am in a very different space. I have returned to working as a counsellor, have a support group of ‘Mum friends’ and have not only accepted motherhood, but found passion in it and my newly defined life.