My name’s Harriet, I’m 24. I got pregnant at 17 and I have a 6-year-old.
It’s really hard when people ask, ‘how do you cope with your mental health?’ because I don’t know, I can’t answer that.
My mental health during my pregnancy
I was working as a sales assistant at the time, I was also at college, I was doing my A Levels, there were 4 different subjects I was doing. Alongside that, social services were also involved and I also got a lawyer involved to chase social services to get out my life.
I think because of all the strain and the stress of these services in my life, it was really hard to focus on this new life that I was bringing into this world. At the time I was also living in a hostel. So actually to be honest, my whole pregnancy, the whole 9 months was really an upsetting time.
I have to admit, I had a very good pregnancy, I didn’t have any problems to be honest up until hitting the mark of 9 months. I can only say that’s a blessing really but when I sort of got to the 9 months, I think my body said it was enough, I think I just went through so much strain, where it really kind of broke down. So I had really high blood pressure to the extent where the midwives were like, ‘we’ve never seen blood pressure this high but blood pressure so high from a 17-year-old – what stress are you going through?’ and I just thought, you can’t imagine the kind of stress I’m going through.
My mental health after the birth of my daughter
I think the knock on effect of my prenatal depression had a knock on effect on how maybe I had a bit of postnatal depression as well. I don’t know if it was postnatal depression, I think it was just prenatal and it just continued. I felt very disconnected from my child. Now that the baby was here I thought OK I understand my prenatal thing. I couldn’t connect, but the child came and to be honest… I felt like I needed a bit more time to get into that mummy mood or whatever you call it. I was sort of running on autopilot, you know, feed the baby, change the baby, baby cries, do this, pat the baby, and as long as I was doing that I felt like I was doing OK.
What’s helped me to better manage my mental health
I think the way going forward to support health is to build on the connections you already have, family, religion, community. The thing that got me into feeling a lot more like me, and we’re talking about coping with my mental health, was my support network. Sometimes you need a connection or you need people around you, you need a support network.
Getting support and help
Postnatal depression: If you think that you may be suffering from postnatal depression, it’s important to speak to your doctor or health visitor. A useful place for advice and help is YoungMinds, a mental health charity that specialises in child and adolescent mental health. They provide a range of organisations that can help, which you can find here.
Suicidal thoughts: If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts it is important to seek advice immediately from a member of your family, a friend or someone you trust. You can also call the Samaritans 24-hours-a-day on 116 123.
If you are in immediate danger or know someone who is, please call 999. It’s so important to speak out and please remember, you are not alone!
Hear more from other young parents speaking about mental health here.