‘I knew that mental health issues were common. Yet I still felt ashamed about feeling low and depressed after becoming a mum,’ I read this lady sharing the other day in a Facebook group for mums.

She had suffered in silence after giving birth to her son. She had struggled to bond with him, hadn’t enjoyed being a mum, and had felt incredibly ashamed about it.

One day, she heard the singer Adele talking openly about her experience with postnatal depression. You’d think that hearing such a popular person sharing her experience with mental illness would give this lady strength to open up too. Funnily enough though, that didn’t happen. She still felt ashamed. She still felt like she was the only one feeling the way she did.

Which made me think.

Why is it so?

Before I became a mum, of course I had heard of postnatal depression. I’d known it was nothing to be ashamed of and that it impacted 1 in 7 mums. And yet, when I struggled with depression myself, there was no way I would have openly talked about it. No way I would have admitted I felt tearful, lonely, stuck and regretful. In fact, I put all the effort into hiding how I really felt.

I think that one of the reasons we don’t share these things is that we are simply not used to talk about mental health. Even though there are more and more people feeling comfortable to talk about it, we still don’t talk about mental illness in the same way we talk about physical illness for instance.

The second reason is that most people who struggle with mental illness don’t realise that they suffer from an actual disease.

Having mental illness is not like having a flu. If you struggle from depression for instance, you don’t simply wake up in the morning and say: ‘I have depression.’ You experience all the symptoms like feeling lonely, tearful, low, guilty, or misunderstood… But often you have no idea you suffer from mental illness. Only rarely you aware that you are experiencing symptoms of severe disease that needs to be treated like any other.

Of course, there are exceptions to this rule but when you look around, you’ll see that most people who are open about their mental illness know what the diagnosis is. People who don’t know what they are dealing with, often suffer in silence.

And last but not least, the problem is that a new mum is somewhat automatically expected to be happy. (Social) media and the environment create an illusion that motherhood is nothing but pure joy and happiness. However, this is often not the case so if the feelings of happiness don’t arrive right away, a mum feels like a failure and often falls into depression.

That said, I believe that the best way to help mums talk openly about their emotions – and, in the process, lower the risks of postnatal depression – is to:

    1. Talk about mental health as much as possible
    2.  Improve general education on mental health & postnatal depression
    3. Be honest with each other about how we really feel 

Of course, there are many more things we can do but the above are in my opinion the absolute essentials that can help mums feel comfortable to talk about their mental health and reach out for help.

Is there anything else you would add to my list? What in your opinion can we as a society do to help break the stigma around mental health once and for all? Let me know in the comments! 😊👇


  1. Everything you’ve said x
    Definitely prepare families, both mums and dads that their mood very possibly will drop and it won’t be smooth sailing initially, along with positive reassurance that this is normal and temporary and nothing to be afraid of.
    Half the problem is lack of real awareness and preparation that it may be anything less than a fairytale dreamy experience which then leads to feelings of shame and failure and personal failure which we of course know it isn’t.
    Getting help as early as possible can help loads so going into pregnancy prepared and armed with places that offer help and support is so valuable!

    1. Thanks so much Siobhan, I couldn’t agree more! Making it general knowledge that motherhood is not all bed of roses would definitely help break the stigma & and lower the risks of depression in new parents. How sad that this is mentioned only marginally in most prenatal classes (if at all)! xx

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