Yvette, mum to Dimitri, was hospitalised with postnatal depression after experiencing suicidal thoughts. Her holistic approach to recovery continues today.
In the first few months of motherhood I felt more than exhausted, more than overwhelmed. Everything got under my skin – comments from family members on how I should raise my son, anything my husband said, and frustrations of yearning to be “the perfect mother”. Initially I assumed it was the baby blues. I often found myself crying, asking myself “Why did I sign up for motherhood?” Many days I could not cope and my anxiety went through the roof. My routine with my son Dimitri was effortless yet it felt so robotic and I felt I wasn’t doing enough as a mother.
It took me months to see my doctor. Dimitri would have been about seven months old when I finally booked myself in to see a psychologist. There is a very apparent stigma in our society regarding mental health, more so for mothers. I hear mothers, celebrities saying that motherhood is the best thing ever. No one tells you the deeper, darker side to it.
For more information abut overcoming shame and stigma and getting help, click here.
During my contemplation of my suicide I told my husband I was done with everything, especially living. He made the decision to take me to hospital and after being assessed by various psychiatrists in the Emergency Unit, I was placed into the psychiatric unit to rest. I think the fact that I did not fear death impacted me immensely. What was the point of living if I failed? I thought my husband and son were better off without me. But this melancholy was not me, it was my disease - my postnatal depression.
For more information for partners about getting help and providing support click here.
Before I was hospitalised I had begun taking anti-depressant medication, as instructed by my psychiatrist and GP. I was just existing, rather than living. I could barely eat or sleep. My anxiety kept me awake and my body began to stop functioning. Everything was an effort to enjoy. At the height of my postnatal depression I felt I was a failed wife and my husband and I barely communicated, cared, or supported each other. I retracted from friends and family and made up excuses for my absences. At the end of the day, who wants to see an unhappy person? I felt so disconnected and disjointed from my social circle, work and society.
For more information abut how to support someone with postnatal depression click here.
Medication helped me to a certain extent. It mellowed me out, calmed me down and allowed me to clear the fogginess in my mind. I also took up pilates, and a more wholesome diet alleviated my PND. It has been four years of postnatal depression and the journey of healing has only really begun. I still have episodes, but slowly my illness is petering away. Support from my husband, family and friends are the best forms of treatment for me. This, and mix of the medication and a neutral party to talk to such as my psychologist and psychiatrist. Once you have a full support network, the best treatment is time.
If you are battling postnatal depression, be kind to yourself. You are stronger than you think you are. This is not something that will last forever; you will get through this.
Did you experience postnatal depression? How did you cope?
COPE Facts about severe PND:
- A woman is more likely to develop a mental health problem around the time of having a baby, moreso that at any other time of her life.
- Postnatal anxiety and depression can be serious and can have long-term and far-reaching impacts upon mothers, babies, partners, other members of the family and the community at large.
- Mental health problems are among the leading cause of maternal death and disability: The number one reason mothers die is due to suicide.
- For some women, medication is an essential component of their treatment of moderate to severe depression or anxiety. There are medications that are safe and effective, and psychological (talking therapies) are also effective for treating mild-moderate depression and anxiety.
- For more information about safe and effective treatments and knowing when to seek help visit www.cope.org.au.
The #nofiltermum campaign is a joint initiative of The Hood, a premium clothing brand celebrating mums supporting each other with COPE, the Centre of Perinatal Excellence, Little Tsunami and Katrina Christ Photographer to challenge the unrealistic perception of ‘parenthood perfection’ during Post Natal Depression Week. You can join the campaign by posting a no filter photo of your everyday life on Instagram tagged with #nofiltermum or by buying a t-shirt from The Hood.