Kelly (UK): Speaking the secret
Postnatal depression does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter how you’ve conceived, how long it took you or what type of birth you had, it doesn’t matter if your baby was long awaited and planned or a surprise, anyone can fall victim to PND and like most people, I never thought it would be me.
I have suffered with my mental health for as long as I can remember which made me a high-risk candidate for postnatal depression, which I wrongly chose to ignore.
Physically, I had a pretty good pregnancy with a few minor complications that resulted in me having a C-section, but other than that I can’t complain about my physical pregnancy. However, mentally I was having a completely different experience: I was highly anxious for the majority of the nine months, constantly waiting in fear for something to go wrong, obsessing about my baby’s movements and desperate for her safe arrival. My high anxiety was a clear warning sign that postnatal depression was to follow and when my midwife advised me of this I was insulted and hurt, postnatal depression sounded like a dirty word to me and not something I wanted to be associated with; I shrugged it off and told her I’d be fine once my baby got here, but this was the point I should have begun educating myself about the mental illness that would soon take over my life.
Fast forward two and a half weeks after having my beautiful baby girl, and postnatal depression had slowly started to set in. The first thing I remember noticing was that I didn’t want visitors, I didn’t want anyone holding My baby, I didn’t want anyone to know how awful I felt and I certainly didn’t want anyone to know I wasn’t coping. I also couldn’t stop crying; I wasn’t overwhelmed with happiness like I was told I would be. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I didn’t want to face the day and I felt so ashamed and incredibly guilty for feeling that way. Along with the depression I started to have intrusive thoughts, at which point I knew that I desperately needed help.
When my midwife came to visit the following day I broke down and told her exactly how I was feeling. She got me an appointment with a GP the same day who was amazingly supportive. He prescribed me with antidepressants, which I took immediately. That was the day I began my recovery.
But it wasn’t the antidepressants that started my recovery, it was reaching out for help. As soon as I told someone how I was feeling the depression I was carrying didn’t feel so heavy, I didn’t feel so alone and I stopped feeling so much guilt. Talking and sharing my story has continued to be a massive part of my recovery, and I frequently write about my postnatal depression and life as a mother. When I started to open up about my experience the more I heard ‘me too’. Postnatal depression can be a really lonely place but it is so common and I didn’t realise that. It’s an excruciating feeling when something that you’ve always wanted is what almost breaks you and it’s even harder to admit that but it’s ok to feel that way, it’s no ones fault and there is always a light at the tunnel.