Having lived with depression since the age of 12, with my triggers being linked to times of pressure and stress (I was first diagnosed after the death of my beloved grandad), I guess it was fairly inevitable that I suffered with both prenatal and postnatal depression with all three of my children.
The first time that I realised I had postnatal depression was with my eldest child when he was only a few months old. I was around my mum’s house with him and, after a build up of emotions and feelings of helplessness, I told her he would be better off living with her and I ran out into the road. She followed me, brought me inside and calmed me down and the next day I booked myself an appointment with my doctor.
Over the next few years my depression ebbed and flowed, with the birth of my daughter triggering things again. I built myself up online to sound like superwoman, cooking, cleaning and even baking cakes the day after giving birth, but behind closed doors my relationship was shaky and I was falling apart. I became an expert at faking a smile.
Now 27 years old, with a failed marriage behind me, now with a loving partner and my youngest son aged 4 months, I have a slightly been there done there attitude when it comes to depression. I’ve tried both counselling and medication, and both have worked for me at different points in my life.
There’s no shame in going onto antidepressants. I was on them when I fell pregnant with my youngest, and I slowly weaned myself off of them during my pregnancy, although I was assured I could stay on them if I needed to as ultimately my health and mental wellbeing was key.
The best advice I have ever had is not to be ashamed to speak out and let people know how you’re feeling. Your friends and family can’t necessarily help you, but just having their support, and not suffering in silence is a huge step in the right direction. A big misconception is that if you speak to your doctor about postnatal depression you may risk your baby being taken from you. This is not true at all, and please don’t let fear stop you from getting the help and support you need.
This time round I self referred myself to the Steps to Wellbeing service after my depression had me catapulting between bouts of uncontrollable crying and resembling a robot, lacking any emotion. I had a telephone assessment which resulted in being referred to a specialist counselling team in my local area.
I don’t feel I’ve gotten to the root of my depression before and am hopeful that this will help to not only mask the symptoms, as I feel I have in the past, but to battle my inner demons and ultimately get better not just for me, but for my partner and for my kids.
People have told me that I’m strong before and, although I don’t feel it, I guess I am. Having lived with depression for over half my life I feel it’s a part of me now, but I’ve not let it take over, I’ve not let it win. This illness is horrible, something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, but I can beat it, and you can too.