This article was kindly written by a Go Mum! client, Kate. She shares her story in the hope of helping other mums realise that they are not alone and that there is a light at the end of the postnatal depression tunnel.
Post Natal Depression and Anxiety (PND) is far more common than most would think. I suffered PND after the birth of my second daughter but didn't after the birth of my first.
I initially spent approximately three weeks in the Post Natal Disorder ward at Belmont Hospital when my youngest daughter was about 6 months old. I was admitted as an involuntary patient. I simply wasn't coping. My youngest wasn't sleeping very well, I struggled with parenting my almost 3 year old and couldn't cope with any kinds of additional stresses that I normally would be able to. I kept telling myself I should be able to cope, after all I didn't have any problems after the birth of my first daughter. I thought I just had to keep going. But I hit a wall. I got angry. Angry at myself and my family.
I finally agreed for my family to have a home doctor visit me. She told us about Belmont's facilities for PND patients. It is an 8 bed ward mother and baby unit. I was breastfeeding and believed it was the only thing I was good at so I did not want to be separated from my daughter. I spent one night at the Royal Brisbane Hospital psych ward (which was a scary experience) and the next day I was transferred to Belmont Hospital (which was like the Hilton in comparison).
I was put on anti depressant and anti-psychotic drugs and received some amazing therapy. There was generally a midwife and psychiatric nurse on each shift so support was always available. I was assigned a psychiatrist who helped me identify how my PND developed and helped me work through these issues.
PND is an underlying hormonal imbalance that can be made worse by stressful events. This was my case. I spent 3 weeks at Belmont and commenced a course of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). Once home, I started to put into action some of the coping techniques I was taught and continued to go back for my course.
All went well for a few weeks until some stressful events triggered me again. I couldn't let them go, I wasn't sleeping very well, I got angry. I ended up back at the Royal Brisbane Hospital and then Belmont. My medication was increased and I spent a further couple of weeks as an inpatient. I was determined to get better. I still am.
I am enjoying being back at work, engage in regular exercise and am doing well. I have also become much better at accepting help when it is offered and not trying to manage everything on my own. I have no plans to stop my medication and believe we need to start talking about these experiences, to educate and help others.
About the Author
Kate is a mother of two and long term client of Go Mum! We thank her for her willingness to share her story and encourage all mums to seek help if they feel overwhelmed or don't feel like themselves.
Below are links to excellent resources on postnatal depression.
Also, our Go Mum! Advisory Board Member Amanda Bryen is a clinical psychologist that specialises in the treatment of postnatal depression and anxiety and does home visits.