For Mental Health Awareness Week, we are sharing the experiences of different parents who have struggled with their mental wellbeing during pregnancy and in the early days of parenthood.
In this post, Rachael Dobson, co-founder of PANDAS, the UK charity which supports families through postnatal depression (PND) and antenatal depression (AND) shares how she coped with PND.
I always thought that my direction in life was to be a mum; I wasn’t particularly interested in a career. I got married at 19, and found out a couple of days after our first wedding anniversary that I was pregnant.
I always thought that I wanted to be a young mum, I was 20, happily married and in a nice house. To me, I ticked all the boxes to be happy. Well it didn’t work out that way.
It was like someone flipped a switch, I was in shock, and all I kept thinking was not now. I spent the whole time just wanting to tell someone that I just didn’t feel right, but every time I saw a G.P. or midwife they would say congratulations. I used to ask myself: ‘why is everyone happy but me?’
I spent the whole pregnancy only talking to Stuart (my husband) about how I was feeling, and clung on to the idea that it would be a ‘bundle of joy’ or ‘you will feel over whelming love.’ I thought when the baby arrived; I would look back and think why did I feel like that?
I had an emergency caesarian section, had to have a blood transfusion afterwards, and I remember looking at Andreas in his plastic crib and thinking, ‘Is that it?’, ‘where is the rush of love?’
I spent the first 3 weeks being a robot and doing what I believed a mum should do. I finally admitted to my health visitor how I was feeling, how I was breaking inside, how I didn’t want to get up in the morning, the tantrums, tears and thoughts spinning around in my head.
This carried on for a few months, and I ended up moving house, and had a different health visitor. I asked her if I could attend a group which was advertised for mums suffering postnatal depression, and was told I was three pegs above it, and would make others feel bad if I spoke about how I was feeling. Well that certainly had an impact, but I just thought, if you are turning me away, how many others are you turning away?
In August 2011, along with my husband Stuart, I founded PANDAS Foundation (Pre and post Natal Depression Advice and Support). We support individuals and their families suffering pre (antenatal) and postnatal depression via our website, email support, online community, PANDAS Help Line and Support Groups.
Frequently asked questions about Postnatal Depression
How do you know if you are suffering from pre (antenatal) depression?
Hormones are a massive part in how you are feeling, but if you feel it is impacting on your day-to-day life, and you personally feel it is more to you than just hormones, we will be here to support you.
Each midwife team has a specialist in mental health and you can request to speak to them or speak to your G.P. to ask for a referral for treatment such as counselling.
How do I know the difference between ‘baby blues’ and postnatal depression?
This depends on the length of time you are feeling emotional and down for. Baby blues is said to last a matter of days, and not to go on for weeks. I would recommend you try and speak to your G.P. and they can diagnose and recommend treatment, or you can discuss it with your health visitor.
How to contact PANDAS
If you want to talk to other people who are experiencing pre and postnatal depression, you can speak to us at PANDAS.
Call our helpline on: 0843 2898 401
Phone lines are open 9am-8pm from Monday to Sunday.
Please remember you are not on your own, and support is available for you. It’s OK not to be OK.
This blog was originally published on Bubbalicious under the title ‘It’s OK not to be OK’.