“I knew that the way I was feeling was very different to the way most new Mums felt”
“I was exhausted but I couldn’t sleep”
“What right do I have to be depressed?”
Channel 10 personality Jessica Rowe has spoken emotionally about her experience with Post Natal Depression on her morning show, Studio 10.
She told the panel she felt like a failure as a mother and was reluctant to accept her illness for fear of the stigma surrounding mental health.
The mother of two said she looked like she had it all together but was suffering anxiety and panic attacks. She told the audience that when she was walking along pushing her daughter, Allegra in her pram she might have looked like she had it together but that she was “dying inside.”
Rowe said she wanted to use Post-Natal Depression Week to tell mothers they are not alone in their struggle and to seek help.
She has previously written about her struggle….
In those early weeks at home I thought I’d be living my long-held dream. Finally, at last, we were a family. Why on earth did my dream feel like it was free-falling into a nightmare? Getting out the front door was tough—I wondered if I would ever leave the house again. Assembling the pram, changing nappies and working out how to put Allegra in the baby capsule became my biggest achievements.
Despite the sleep deprivation, I couldn’t sleep. My waking hours were consumed by anxious thoughts. Why couldn’t I breastfeed? Was my baby putting on enough weight? Did using formula mean I was setting my daughter up for a life of obesity and lowering her IQ? I wondered how I could feel so wretched when I finally had my darling girl. After all, wasn’t I meant to be the superwoman who could deal with anything life threw at me?
These were all pretty standard thoughts for a new mum. But something was seriously wrong. Because what weren’t so standard were the scary, obsessive thoughts that started to sneak into my befuddled brain.
The small silver Tiffany’s clock that I used to time breastfeeds became a weapon in my mind. I wondered how easily the clock could crack my baby’s delicate skull. My eyes would be drawn to the sharp carving knife in our second draw in the kitchen. I wondered if such a knife could pierce my little daughter’s soft skin. I knew I would never hurt my baby but these bizarre thoughts, of turning everyday objects into hazards, kept going around in my mind.
I wrapped the knife up in newspaper and threw it away. I did this at night, so the neighbours wouldn’t see me. I hid the silver clock. It didn’t matter that these objects were out of sight, as they were very much still in my mind.
The outside world was none the wiser to how I was feeling. I was determined to keep up appearances. Fashion had always given me such pleasure and in some strange way I believed if I could walk out the front door looking together all was not lost. My uniform became a brightly coloured feeding bra, teamed with either a Zimmerman pink leopard-print frock or a fifties-style chocolate dress that was scattered with a mauve and pale pink diamond pattern. The look was complete with big black Escada sunglasses and gold or silver ballet flats. But as you know, appearances can be deceiving.
Jessica Rowe said she realised she had to ask for help. Something that was very difficult to do. “However I realised that real strength came from admitting I needed help”.
If you or someone you know is suffering from PND and/or you need help there are many organisations Australia wide that can help.
Beyondblue To find out help in your area call Lifeline’s Just Ask information line on 1300 13 11 14 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm EST). Just Ask can also post you copies of any of beyondblue’s fact sheets on depression. More resources and information can be found on their website here.
Gidget Foundation promotes awareness of Perinatal Anxiety and Depression amongst women and their families, their health providers and the wider community to ensure that women in need receive timely, appropriate and supportive care. The Gidget Foundation has great resources and factsheets available on their website.