In October we had Mental Health Day. Some mothers experience Postnatal Depression with many consequences for them, their babies and attachment, and for their families. Many chose not speak up because they think they ‘should be able to cope’. Here’s a story from a friend of mine, who did speak up and sought help. Thank you Shanelle for sharing something so personal, in such an open way…
“Today is World Mental Health Day.
I wanted to share this picture of my daughter and I from 10 years ago, when my post natal depression was at its peak.
You cannot tell someone’s mental health state just by looking at them. You cannot know how someone is feeling by the way they present themselves to the world. You can never know the stories that someone is telling themselves over and over in their head.
I was great at wearing the mask of “perfect mother” when I was out in public. If you saw me out and about, you would probably think that I had adjusted to my new role of motherhood rather well. If there was video footage of what was happening in the 4 walls of my home, you would be shocked to know I was the same person.
There was constant anxiety over doing things the “right” way, if I was following the rules (of course my baby had a rulebook!). There was so much guilt associated with feeling totally out of my depth with the challenges of being a new mum. I constantly beat myself up over a traumatic birth experience and a daughter born with a dislocated hip.
I was so sad, so emotional, so teary. I was exhausted. I wasn’t sleeping well in fear that something might happen. I felt so alone and isolated, like I was the only one going through this experience. I was ashamed that this wasn’t a natural experience for me. Why hadn’t I got the fairy-tale the media makes motherhood out to be?
I would put my daughter down for her nap and then lock myself in the walk-in robe to cry. Locked in the darkness the tears would stream endlessly.
I kept myself busy cooking, cleaning, washing and whatever else I could to keep my mind off how I was really feeling. It got to a point where I couldn’t handle it anymore.
Finally I made the call to see my GP. A call that was probably one of the bravest and scariest things that I have ever done. A call that ultimately put me onto the path of receiving the help I so desperately needed and to getting my mental health under control.
10 years on, I now have 2 beautiful children. Most days are great, however there are times when depression starts to creep back in. Nowadays I am aware of the signs to look out for and can put the steps into place to get me back on track before I am
Statistics say that 1 in 2 of us will develop a mental illness during our lifetime. Mental Illness doesn’t have to define you. It can be managed.
It’s time the guilt and shame were removed from mental illness. People don’t choose to get diabetes, nor do we choose to have a mental illness. We need to be able to have open and honest conversations about how we are genuinely feeling and know that these conversations will be taken seriously and are free from judgement.
Peach Tree Perinatal Wellness (www.peachtree.org.au) is an organisation that I found during my second pregnancy who focuses on peer support for mental health challenges during the perinatal period. There are several Peachy Parent groups who meet each week throughout Queensland providing support to parents from a lived-experience perspective. Having the support and understanding of other parents who have had similar experiences is so important on the road to recovery.
Please, if you need to reach out – contact your GP, call Lifeline 13 1114 or PANDA 1300 726 306 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467″
Happy Parenting this week, by taking good care of yourself Mums… it’s important for you, and for your family – You are Special and Very Important!