It got to the point that I couldn’t be left alone with our baby because it was so overwhelming. I was so broken that even the slightest cry would see me fall apart. Motherhood was the first thing I’d really ever tried that I’d failed at. Usually if I try something and stick with it I can get it. But I just couldn’t figure this out. I had so much guilt about how I was feeling. Having friends who couldn’t have children I knew how lucky I was, yet I didn’t want to do it anymore.
For more information about adjusting to parenthood click here
I had a fantastic maternal health nurse who never made me feel like I was being silly and supported me in seeking help through The Raphael Centre. With the help of my GP, The Raphael Centre was able to start my diagnosis and treatment for postnatal depression. But it wasn’t enough. I needed daily support and to have someone there, living it with me.
Blake was three months old when we applied to get into Werribee Mother and Baby Unit and by the time a place was available he was just over four months. I was so lost when I arrived. I had nothing left. I just felt indifferent; numb. I just wanted them to fix my kid. I didn’t look forward to anything except going to bed. I was not the person I was before having Blake. When we arrived I thought there was no way I was going to be able to stay but by the end of the first week I never wanted to leave. There weren’t any televisions in the rooms, only birthing beds to sleep on and awful hospital food, but there were also midwives around the clock, other mums going through similar journeys and experienced mental health staff. It was a really uncomfortable experience but without it I don’t know where we’d be. It saved us.
I never imagined that there would be such a change in me in the weeks I was in the Mother and Baby Unit. When I was ready to go home, I knew. I was full of hope again and excited for what life might be. I remember the stigma around postnatal depression when I first came to terms with it. I was so worried about what people would think of me if we spent three days in a sleep school. Now I have no issues telling strangers I spent six and a half weeks in a mental hospital. It’s all about understanding and knowing that it’s ok.
For more information about overcoming the stigma and seeking help click here
The situation brought my husband and I closer. When I was falling apart my husband would step up and rock our screaming baby for hours overnight and then get up at 6am and go to work. Looking back at those moments makes me so grateful for the family and support network I have around me. I’ll never be able to thank those enough that were there for me during that time.
For more information for dads about supporting your partner with PND click here
For a long time I said I would never have another baby. Now I’m slowly coming around to the idea. I was so terrified of going through it all that again that it just didn’t seem worth it. I know that if we decide to have another child I could end up with postnatal depression again but I also know that we will go into it more experienced, with more skills and tools to get through it.
COPE Facts about Stigma and PND
- Stigma is a major factor that prevents mums speaking up or seeking help early.
- COPE research reveals that expectant and new mothers hold high expectations about what the experience of having a baby will be like – usually influenced by media portrayals of motherhood.
- When expectations are not met or if things don’t go to plan often feelings of failure and shame prevent women from confiding with others for fear that they will be judged as individuals or in their role as a mother.
- The impacts of shame, stigma and fear of disclosure is preventing women from seeking support from others, delays help-seeking and ultimately compounds mental health conditions – often leading to the conditions becoming more severe.
For more information about managing expectations, overcoming stigma, knowing when to get help and where to access safe and effective help visit www.cope.org.au.