Prenatal Depression Archives - PANDAS Foundation UK

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Invisible

Mental Illness is invisible.

When someone is ill, or hurting, or injured, they go to the doctor. They’re not too ill to get up, they don’t need the hospital or an ambulance. They can still carry on the basic daily functions – but they just don’t feel very well.

Maybe they have a temperature – a runny nose, a cough. Maybe they’re feverish. Or perhaps they were injured somehow – a cut, a graze, a sprain. At worst, broken bone. They might need a bandage, a cast. They might even just need a plaster.

Perhaps they need medication to fix it. It might be antibiotics, or pain relief while their body heals itself. They’re given a clear timeline – two weeks, a month, a couple of months, and you’ll be better. If you’re not, please come back.

So they come home from the doctor to their loved ones and they say “This is what happened, this is what’s the matter. I’ll be better soon.” They might have a day or more off work, or just need to sleep for a bit. Maybe (if they’re very lucky!) they get a card, or flowers, or chocolate. Read More

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NHS England Perinatal Mental Health Funding Boost

After the announcement today that the first of £360 million pounds worth of investment into supporting expectant and new mums with their mental health has been given by NHS England, the UK’s leading pre and postnatal depression charity has shown its support for the measures.

 

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The Bonding Experience

I have been toying with the idea to write about my experience with postnatal depression and bonding problems. On writing this, I hope to highlight the importance of talking about a taboo such as this.

My earliest memory of knowing I didn’t want to be a mother was when I was eight years old. My mother was a child minder, as well as bringing up myself and my two brothers and family life was a struggle for her. She battled on a daily basis with breaking up arguments between my brothers and the children in her care, pushing a double push chair with two toddler’s sat inside enjoying the ride and cooking a hot meal every night that everyone agreed with and would enjoy. Being a mother appeared to be hard work and a life style choice that everyone seemed to adopt. Waiting with my mother, for my brothers to come out of school, I would look at the other mothers in the play ground and feel for them. Seeing them provoked a feeling of pity, sadness and loss. A loss of life. A life wasted on beckoning to every call and need from a child.

Seventeen years too young, is the age I fell pregnant with my first child. I felt on top of the world and special to be carrying a child within my womb.

My first scan fell on the seventh of January 2009, three days after my eighteenth birthday. My baby wriggled around on the screen and the midwife smiled sweetly and told me the baby is beautiful and healthy. Tears streamed down my face but not for the reasons the midwife was thinking. They were tears of sadness as I realised I didn’t want this baby. There were no feelings of love that rushed to me, no warming of the heart or thoughts such as ‘how lucky am I?.’ Inside I was numb and empty. My elated feelings of discovering my pregnancy were tainted as sadness contaminated me. I held a constant low feeling and I was unable to bond with my unborn baby.

As my baby grew within me stretch marks etched their ugly reminder on my body that I was soon to be a mother. All control I once had on my life and body had been snatched from me and I was terrified what the future held. Every day I would try to spark my maternal feelings. I would watch a show about teen mums and mirror their mannerisms and things they said in the hope I would then be fixed. Joining a mother and baby group also failed my expectations of a quick fix. I was hopeful talking about my pregnancy to other young mums would make it better and my bond would soon appear.
Suicidal thoughts crept in and I felt awful that my sad feelings had taken a sinister turn and all hope of being okay had now faded. This illness I was experiencing was winning and I had no control of it.

I began to accept I wasn’t a real woman. When I was made, my maternal instincts hadn’t been built within my heart. Being honest with myself in this brutal way made me feel sick with fear and cry so hard. I kept telling myself, ‘you can’t hate your baby forever.’

Nine hours and forty six minutes after arriving at the hospital I pushed my son into the world. He didn’t cry and was taken away to be resuscitated.
My baby took his first breath and I let out a sigh of relief. The midwife swaddled him in a blanket and I was asked if I wanted to hold him. No I thought. Yes I said. Placing him onto me the midwife stood back to admire this picture perfect moment. I looked down at him, so perfect, so at peace and innocent. Instead of smiling because I felt happy, I smiled weakly because if I didn’t smile I would cry. The flicker of instincts vanished now I knew he was safe. Oh god there is no bond I thought.

My baby was named Dougie.

My first night in hospital was horrible. I was taken to a postnatal ward and placed on a bed situated by a window. The midwife told me to buzz if I need anything and at that she pulled the curtain around me. Dougie was sleeping soundly and balloons and cards from family surrounded me painting a happy scene. Sitting on the bed in front of Dougie I let go of my emotions that I had been trying so hard to keep in. Putting my head in my hands I silently cried so no one would hear me. Dougie was here and now there is no going back. Bleary eyed because I had so many tears, I looked up to the sky and for the first time in my life I mouthed please God help me.

A month after Dougie was born I spoke about my problems for the first time to my aunt online. She promised to allow my secret to also become hers.
Three days after our conversation the home phone rang and my mothers normal perky tone turned into a whisper. I knew it was my aunt on the phone. Some minutes later my mother entered the room and sat on the sofa opposite to me. Turning to me she asked if I was okay. I considered lying but the urge to give up over powered me and I broke down in tears and repeated the words ‘I just don’t want him’ over and over again. My mother told me I would be okay and her and my dad will support me.

My feelings about being a mother didn’t improve. My mother helped me by having a health visitor come to the house. She told me I had Postnatal depression that had developed from Prenatal depression and it was important to see a doctor straight away. This was some closure as I knew a illness was living in me and once it goes I will then be the best mother in the world.

Postnatal depression became worse as each day went by and I started to feel suicidal and often wanted to run away. Over the years since Dougie was born I have sought help from two counsellors, prescribed anti depressants, spoken to a number of health care professionals and friends and family. Nobody had been able to help me.

Postnatal depression left a path of destruction and left me with a condition called bonding problems with an older child. My symptoms were similar to Postnatal depression and included being unable to show and receive affection, feeling no joy from being a parent and feeling detached from Dougie. The symptoms were difficult to experience and it broke my heart as well as Dougie’s. People seek fame and money but all I wanted was to love being a parent.

I had missed six years of mothers days, birthdays, and Christmases. Most importantly it had taken away everyday of my sons life from me. There was no joy or happiness. People complimented myself as a mother, however they didn’t see what was inside. Everyday I carried out the jobs a mother should do but I didn’t experience the emotions. Dougie felt alien to me and every so often in a bid to bond I would look through the memory box to try and spark that warm fuzziness of happiness within me but was only greeted by a blank emotion.

My blog is about how I recovered through my own techniques from a  condition that isn’t spoken about. Limited information is available and I strongly believe there are many sufferers that are too afraid to speak out. I hope my blog empowers women.

Welcome to The Bonding Experience Blog

MY STORY BY CARLY RICHARDSON

Before I start I have to say how happy but nervous..scared and emotional I was about sharing my story. Its something that has all been locked up in a box at the back of my head for so long now I almost don’t think about it anymore. But I think that if just one person can gain something from reading this, then it’s absolutely worth me emptying that box at the back of my head again and throwing it all onto paper. Here goes! Read More

INTERVIEW WITH LOUISE BAKER – AUTHOR OF GOING THROUGH IT ALL OVER AGAIN: POSTNATAL DEPRESSION AND US

Thank you so much for writing such an honest and inspiring piece for us.

Looking back, do you think your husband may also have been suffering from postnatal depression?

While my husband undoubtedly had a hard time of my pregnancies, and the first few weeks of parenthood, I sometimes worry that most of his anxieties were caused by me. He remembers dreading coming home from work because he never knew how he’d find me, and I will always feel a sense of responsibility for those ‘ruined’ few weeks. Even now I think he gets a hard time of it, although we communicate so much more than I was able to in the beginning. That has certainly helped!

Did you ever speak to your midwife about your feelings of anxiety during pregnancy?

I remember having numerous conversations with our midwife during my first pregnancy, and it was her who referred me for help and introduced me to the counselling I went on to have. The second time around I saw two or three different midwives, and that dialogue became harder to open. I felt as though I was having to explain everything over and over again, even though I wasn’t really sure I could put my finger on what I wanted to say. I found the health visitor invaluable the second time round.

Do you feel that there should be more help and support for those suffering from antenatal depression and/or anxiety?

Certainly – even now postnatal anxiety and depression are seen as something of a taboo, and I know that I’ve certainly not been forthcoming in talking about it. You’re never quite sure how people will react. Until I suffered myself, I wasn’t even aware that antenatal depression and anxiety was possible. Surely pregnancy is a joyous time? That myth can lead to women feeling isolated, as they’re sure they’re not supposed to feel like that. Support at these points is absolutely vital to stop anxiety escalating.

I like that you’ve written “You are not postnatal depression”, but how did you learn to disassociate yourself from your illness?

It’s hard, because sometimes it becomes an excuse – I’ve had a bad day, but that’s okay because I have an illness. I think, for me, the most important thing was to not consider postnatal anxiety to be an illness, and also to focus on my children. I was determined that they shouldn’t suffer because I was having a bad day, and just thinking about how they might feel is a great way to pull myself back sometimes. ‘It’ just happens to be something hovering in the background, but it isn’t the heart and soul of who I am. Every day I wake up with a mantra – today will be a good day. Sometimes I’m confident enough to pull that off!

I too have struggled to come off medication, do you still have hope that one day it will be a possibility for you?

Oh yes. I was prescribed medication when my first son was still very small and decided early on that it wasn’t for me. I stopped taking it altogether and found I was able to control my anxieties on my own. The second time around has been harder – a little more of a roller coaster as I attempted to understand what would work for me. I didn’t want pills to control me, but I’ve learned to accept that they’re not altering who I am, merely how I cope under certain strains. I know that one day I’ll be able to control my own emotions, so I have no doubt that this is just a temporary solution.

What do you do during your dark days to try and lift yourself out of them?

I leave the house. I can usually tell quite quickly what sort of day I’ve woken up to, and so if I start to feel a little low we’ll head out to the park, or I’ll contact friends to try and arrange something. As long as the children are up and active, and enjoying their day, I think it’s okay if I’m having a bad day – their happiness is one of the best feelings in the world, and it’s infectious. Staying at home tends to be a trigger for anxiety, as I’ll feel guilty if I’m not up to doing much.

And finally, do you have a message for anyone who has not yet seen the light?

Just that it is there – honestly! Antenatal and postnatal anxiety and depression are so cruel, bringing you down when you should be on Cloud 9. The tiredness and range of new hormones and emotions never helps, but you need to understand that this isn’t going to be forever, and it’s okay to have dark days. They just make the good days seem all the more brighter. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help either – telling yourself that you’re suffering is one thing, but being able to admit that is a huge step forward.

WHEN DREAMS BECOME A WAKING NIGHTMARE: LIVING WITH PND AFTER INFERTILITY – BY LEIGH WATTERS

The minutes ticked by like hours, one……………two……………..three.  I turned the little white stick over in my hand and there it was; the tiny blue cross which signaled the end of our wait.  Everything we’d ever wanted was coming our way at long last – only 9 little months to hang on and our dreams of becoming parents would finally be realised.

It hadn’t been easy.  It had taken longer than we’d expected and we’d had to hurdle obstacles that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.  The reality of infertility was drastically different to how I had imagined it might be, or perhaps that was because we hadn’t given much thought to the possibility. Read More

LANARKSHIRE PANDAS SUPPORT GROUP

Back in 2011 I fell pregnant. It was a wonderful feeling. I couldn’t be happier. It was everything I had always wanted and was so excited to tell everyone that I was going to have a baby before the year was out! The pregnancy was great too; only slight morning sickness with everything else going to plan. Then, at 29 weeks and 1 day, I asked my husband if he could remember me making any comments about the baby moving. I tried not to panic. I rested and make a conscience thought to feel for movements. A kick, a tickle, a cough. An hour later and still nothing.

So we went for a walk. Had some fresh orange juice. Then ended up at my mother-in-laws. Another few hours and panic started to set in. I called the hospital and went in. Straight on to the foetal monitor. The happy little thump thump thump sound made us all physically relax. But it wasn’t enough for the hospital. They wanted a scan. The scan confirmed their fears. There was no blood flowing in the cord. My baby was dying and killing me at the same time.

From this moment on, I’m fuzzy. All I can really remember is that I was hit in the leg with steroids and told that an ambulance would be coming to take me to another hospital as there weren’t the facilities for us there. We got the full blues and twos treatment down the m6 only to be told that they were sorry, but there simply isn’t the time for an epidural to set in and I needed a general. Read More

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