Postnatal Depression - Laura shares her story

Did you know that Postnatal Depression affects 1 in 10 women within a year of giving birth? I certainly didn't. That's quite a scary stat actually. I don't know a lot about Postnatal Depression, to me it has always been the "baby blues". But then that description makes it sound like you're a bit sad, nothing like the all encompassing darkness that Postnatal Depression can become. Despite not suffering myself I decided to get involved in raising awareness of the condition and try to help other women who are suffering to find help.

When I think of Postnatal Depression and helping women there's a name that popped into my head - Laura, from The Butterfly Mother. Her blog is filled with helpful posts about dealing with PND and anxiety. To get started with this raising awareness thing I thought I'd interview Laura because she did suffer with PND and continues to suffer with anxiety, but she is using her experiences to help others too - and I think that's wonderful. 



How, and how soon after giving birth, were you diagnosed with PND? 


Deep down I knew something wasn’t right from the moment my son was born. He arrived via emergency c-section and I didn’t get to hold him or see him properly for several hours due to some anaesthetic problems. I didn’t feel the rush of joy and love I’d been expecting and this caused me to panic. I struggled on for the next few weeks assuming I just had the “baby blues” or was hormonal following the pregnancy and surgery. 





It's okay to not be okay.






It was at around nine weeks postnatal that my growing anxiety attacks developed into a full blown breakdown. I couldn’t sleep, eat or carry out basic tasks. I was too afraid to be alone with my son and worried that I didn’t love him enough. I experienced almost constant anxiety attacks (although I didn’t understand what these were at the time) and I also experienced some thoughts of suicide. 

Following a breakdown at the children’s centre my health visitor stepped in and referred me to a specialist perinatal mental health team in my area. They were amazing and worked with my GP to start my medication and therapy. 



How did your diagnosis affect your thinking?


Most people say that being diagnosed gives them a sense of relief but for me, in that moment, I just felt terrified. I’d never experienced any mental health issues in the past and I think I was self-stigmatising a lot. In hindsight though I see my diagnosis as an incredible positive, especially having it so early on (many women aren’t diagnosed or treated until months or even years after giving birth). I was able to get help quickly which I’ll always be grateful for.






What were your symptoms? 


Postnatal Depression & Anxiety can manifest in many different ways but the main symptoms I personally experienced were panic attacks, intrusive thoughts about harming my son or myself, insomnia, lack of appetite, confusion, tearfulness & depression, and a feeling of constant unease. Physically I had a racing heart, hot and cold sweats, muscle aches, upset tummy and trembling. 



Do you feel you got the help you needed?


Yes, for the most part. I was very lucky to have a specialist team in my area as, sadly, this isn’t the case for much of the country. They were amazing and, frankly, saved my life. The perinatal mental health team supported me when my GP wasn’t particularly knowledgeable or understanding, and they bridged the gap while I waited for an NHS therapy appointment (which can take several months). After I’d been discharged from the perinatal team and I’d completed my eight free therapy sessions I didn’t feel ready to leave therapy completely. Therefore, I was forced to seek therapy privately and pay for sessions. Again, I was lucky I was able to do this when many can’t afford it. 

Perinatal mental health services have improved over the last few years, largely thanks to more awareness and more government investment, but we still have a fair way to go – particularly when it comes to educating non-specialist medical professionals about these illnesses. 



Did you get help/support from family/friends prior to diagnosis?


Again, I’m very lucky to have such an amazing support network of family and friends. Many stepped up to offer practical help such as childcare and lifts to appointments, and others offered lots of emotional support. I think it’s important for any friends and family to realise that although you may not totally understand what your loved one is going through it doesn’t mean you can’t be kind, patient, understanding and supportive.






How are you now?


My son is now five years old and I’m very well indeed. Recovery was a slow, painful process and took a lot of hard work but I honestly believe I’m a stronger, better person because of my experience. My son and I share an incredible bond and I’m so grateful I was able to get well and enjoy our relationship so much. When I was at my worst I constantly searched for recovery stories online to give me hope. I found a few, which was great, but not many. It seemed when people were well they didn’t feel the need to share anymore – which makes sense! But I made a promise in that dark moment that if I were ever to get better I’d share my story with others, and three and a half years ago I began blogging and advocating about perinatal mental illness. I’m now in the process of setting up a local face-to-face peer support group and I’ve spoken several times at events for professionals to give insight into the illness I experienced. 



About Laura


Laura is a mum of one, Postnatal Anxiety survivor & mental health advocate. You’ll find her ramblings at www.thebutterflymother.com where she blogs about emotional wellbeing, anxiety management, self-care, positive living and staying mentally well as a mum. 



Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Laura, I think it's great that even though you're well you still feel the need to share your story. I love that you are there trying to help other mothers who are going through what you did.





It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. 

Aristotle





I first became a mother more than 14 years ago now, in the summer of 2004. It was a very scary time, not only did I not have any experience of taking care of a baby but I had to do it on my own once the Hubby went back to work. 

Back then the Hubby had a job which kept him busy late into the night sometimes and I had to learn to take care of a baby. I struggled. I didn't know if I was doing the right thing and constantly questioned myself. I remember being in floods of tears because I didn't know what BP wanted and not having someone to talk to made it worse. Weekends were better, but because I'd been stuck in the house with the baby all week I wanted to get out, but the Hubby wanted to stay in because he'd been at work all week. This resulted in a few 'discussions'.

Eventually I found my stride and managed to settle into a good routine with BP. With him being more settled it was easier for me to rest when he did and I was more happy with how things went. Unfortunately that's not always the case and if you're struggling I urge you to ask for help. Whether that's from someone you know or someone online - reach out. 







Postnatal Depression treatment


To learn more about Postnatal Depression and its symptoms and treatments you could visit the SmartTMS website where they have a great page of information which includes a test you can take to check if you have PND. They also offer information about their TMS treatment. 

TMS is a clinically proven and non-invasive treatment, which stimulates the affected areas of the brain using magnetic energy. This can treat a range of mental health conditions including depression, OCD, PTSD, anxiety, Bipolar, Postnatal Depression and addiction.

In the UK, NICE approved the treatment as a safe alternative to antidepressants in 2015, and experience has shown that around 2 in 3 Smart TMS patients experience complete remission after six weeks.


If you think you may have Postnatal Depression do seek medical advice.



Run Jump Scrap

14 comments

  1. I remember being a lot more anxious a few month's after my second was born, although I bonded with her immediately and all was good there. I felt scary but I was offered help. Fab post to raise awareness xx Thanks for sharing with #bloggersbest x

    ReplyDelete
  2. I remember having panic attacks after giving birth to one of my children. I never though at the time it could have been this. Great post to raise awareness Morgan. Thanks for linking up to the Wednesday blog hop yesterday too :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think that's why it's so important to raise awareness Claire, some women may be suffering in silence. xx

      Delete
  3. This needs to be brought into the light more. Why are women still suffering in silence. I have know a few moms who struggled and it was almost like a cloak of shame. #pocolo
    Tracy www.viewfromthebeachchair.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly Tracy. Raising awareness is so important- I hope women read this and feel like they're not alone anymore. xx

      Delete
  4. Thank you Laura for sharing your story. I was hospitalised for 3 months with pnd following the birth of my youngest and it was an awful time that I have not really shared. Luckily we were both able to access the help we needed #pocolo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad to hear you got the help you needed Louisa. xx

      Delete
  5. It sounds an awful thing and the more stories are shared the better so women know there is help that works #PoCoLo

    ReplyDelete
  6. I count myself as luck that I never experienced this, I can't imagine how awful it must be to suffer like this. A great topic to raise awareness on so others can get the help they need and see that they are not alone #pocolo

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think that's the most important thing family and friends can do is to have patience, even if they don't have understanding. #pocolo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree Suzanne, patience can make all the difference. x

      Delete