In connection with Mental Health Awareness weel I decided to some research and see what mums who overcome postnatal depression (PND) knew about this mental illness before their baby arrived.
Personally, I knew postnatal depression existed, but that was pretty much it.
I hadn’t thought it could happen to me.
Not because I’d thought I was special!
It was because I’d thought POSTNATAL DEPRESSION was special and rare.
I can still remember my first meeting with the midwife.
It’s true that she did mention PND, although after speaking to her I had the impression it was just one of those highly unlikely things on the list she had to mention and tick off.
At the end of the appointment, she handed me a few leaflets with contact numbers I was supposed to reach out to should I experience signs of depression.
That was all the education on postnatal depression we had got.
That was all we were told about one of the most common postnatal mental illnesses and the reason a lot of new mums (and dads) took their lives.
Quite sad, isn’t it?
Since it’s mental health awareness week, I took the time and asked other PND survivors about their experiences and what they knew about postnatal depression while expecting their first baby.
Here’s what they said!
‘I had very little knowledge of it so it hit me so hard! I was a super positive and out-going person so I never thought I would have PND. I didn’t know I had PND until almost 6 months postpartum.’
‘I heard about it and knew the symptoms, however, I STILL don’t fully understand how it directly affects the brain and is it anxiety that causes the intrusive thoughts, or is it that separate. Therapists have all given me different explanations.’
‘I’ve known about it for a while before I was pregnant with my oldest.
‘I remember Brooke Shields talking about her experience with it. I also remember Hayden Panettiere talking about it after I had had my oldest.
‘The thing I never knew was that it could happen anytime during the first year after giving birth. I’ve only ever heard of women getting it during the newborn phase.
‘So after having my daughter and feeling great during the first 3-4 months, I thought I was in the clear. But starting month 5, I felt depressed and started taking my usual precautions to get better.
‘But it very quickly spiraled out of control, to the point where a hospital stay was required as I was a danger to myself and my daughter.
‘Another big misconception is that you can’t breastfeed while taking antidepressants.’
‘Honestly, I really had no idea what it was.
‘My daughter was born prematurely and I chalked everything I was feeling up to sadness and guilt that came with that stressful situation.
‘There were times I literally had to set my baby down and go to another room and cry my eyes out and get myself together so I didn’t end up hurting her- she had colic and was screaming for 4 hours at a time while I had a 19-month-old also.
‘I wanted to run away. I considered suicide. You don’t realize until you’ve been in that position, that you can actually see how a new mom that has no idea about this condition, could lose her shit.
‘The NICU showed a video about the shaken baby syndrome. So I knew I was supposed to set the baby down and walk away, but a video or information about PND would have been helpful. Absolutely.
‘I waited too long to get help.’
‘I actually knew quite a bit about it because I’m a Registered Nurse who works in mental health.
‘However…I think partially because of my job, I never thought it would happen to me. I was also under the impression that it really only happens with your first baby or if you’ve had it before.
‘My first baby I was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. The second, a different story.’
‘I literally knew what TV told me.
‘My impression was that it was moms with hormonal imbalances that pretty much would do anything not to be a mom.
‘The first place I ever heard about this was Scrubs. I was so misinformed and all I knew was I didn’t feel right seconds into holding my child.’
‘I was pretty familiar with it before I gave birth.
‘My mum dealt with it after giving birth to me and she told me what it was like, what signs to look for and let me know that if it happened to me that I need to tell someone and I’m not alone, etc.
‘My healthcare providers were also super informative about it while I was pregnant and after I gave birth.’
‘I knew nothing about PND. Nothing! It wasn’t even mentioned to me by my doctor until I was at my 36-week ultrasound.
‘It’s heartbreaking how many women know nothing about PND until they have it.
‘It’s a dangerous thing not to educate people on. Many mothers commit suicide because of PND and if there was more information given about it, it would help.
‘That’s mental health in general.
‘But when you’re pregnant and society makes you think parenthood will be amazing and that it’ll make your relationship with your partner stronger and it’s the best days of your life and then you have your baby and have severe PND… you think something is wrong with you.
‘Mothers are scared of speaking up about intrusive thoughts and rage and anger and constant tears and hopelessness. They are scared to tell anyone because it’s just not talked about and they are afraid of judgment and getting their kids taken etc. because they think something is wrong with them and no one else is struggling like this.
‘Imagine. If this was widely talked about and people were educated on this and prepared for symptoms and knew what to look for and when/how to get help? Wouldn’t women speak out more? Wouldn’t women feel less alone? Wouldn’t the men in our lives be more understanding if this illness was actually talked about?
‘It really infuriates me how society puts such a delusional vision of what parenthood will be when it’s quite honestly the opposite.’
‘Before I had my kids, I thought PND was just crying all the time.’ – Linda
‘I knew it existed… I’m not sure what I thought it was this many years later (7) but I know I didn’t expect it to affect me the way it did. I wanted a baby, I wanted motherhood, I was ready to love my child the day I felt I was pregnant…
‘After the birth and PND hit I had no idea what I wanted anymore. But at times I know I didn’t want my baby when it got really hard. I love him now even If he sent me grey alongside his 2 younger siblings.’
‘I knew nothing at all about PND.’
‘Before I was pregnant the only information that I knew about Postpartum depression was that it existed.
‘I knew absolutely nothing about it. Which is sad.
‘During my pregnancy, no health care professional discussed what it was, that it could happen, that it happens to more women than we know of, no one told me that I was not alone…
‘When I became pregnant the first time I had a really hard time letting anyone hold my little girl. No one else could comfort her in my mind.
‘When someone else would hold her I would go into extreme depression and begin to cry. I dod not even want my husband to hold her. I would get upset with my husband who (now looking back) did absolutely everything right and everything he could to comfort and love me.
‘I would sit in the bathroom and cry while he tried to tend to our girl because I felt so alone. I felt like the world was judging me for everything I did or didn’t do with my child!
‘I finally talked to my doctor about how I was feeling and she finally explained to me that it was normal to feel this way. It wasn’t anything I did wrong, it was PND.
‘My second pregnancy, I am currently 3 weeks postpartum.
‘During my pregnancy, I was not able to take my depression and anxiety medication. I would constantly stay angry at someone or I would cry for no reason.
‘I could not rationalise situations they all became overwhelmed and if someone upset me I would snap. Especially my mother in law. She trigged a lot of my stress and anxiety.
‘The only one who made me happy was my little girl.
‘After being on my medicine since having my son last night I laughed. I truly laughed, like that belly laugh.
‘Last night I forgot about all my worries. I slept even got up with my son a few times, I didn’t feel angry that I had to get up. I felt normal. I am a warrior or postpartum. I will win!’