PND: ‘I felt I was screaming for help but no one could hear me’

post natal depression
Ange and Avalon

When I fell pregnant with Avalon I was 24. It was a mixed bag of emotions, I was excited, happy, nervous, and worried about – and in love with – how my life would change. And I have to admit, I was a little freaked out that I would have to give up the life all my non-baby friends were living.  I knew it would be a life changing experience, but I had a supportive partner and family and I figured it would all be okay.  While I had heard about Post Natal Depression I doubted I would experience something so traumatic.

After giving birth to our beautiful daughter, around day 4 the ‘baby blues’ hit me.  They hit me hard.   They hung around for months and I pottered along thinking ‘wow, will this ever end? It must be normal’.  I was terribly sleep deprived, could never muster any energy to get off the couch – let alone smile or feel happy.  I felt like a bad mother.  I loved my daughter so much, but I didn’t want to breastfeed, and I just wanted to be alone.  I would burst out crying for no reason, and I didn’t want to be in a mother’s group, as I wasn’t enjoying this new role of motherhood.  Why didn’t someone snap me out of it?

I finally cracked one day, after watching everyone around me look and seem happy.  I wanted that feeling again, so I went to the doctors. I was diagnosed with post natal depression (PND) and was prescribed anti-depressants.  I was relieved. I had been ‘diagnosed’ and I thought that the pills would fix everything.  I certainly didn’t feel sad anymore. I didn’t have that lurking sense of emptiness and loneliness but I couldn’t feel anything anymore.  I told some of my immediate family, and got mixed reactions. I guess everyone has different reactions to ‘depression’ of any kind.  For me, the anti-depressants weren’t the fix long term, and I realized I wanted to feel some emotions again so I stopped taking them.

I tried talking to my partner, but he didn’t understand.  I wanted to open up to my friends and family, but I thought that they wouldn’t understand either.  I felt I was screaming for help but no one could hear me.  We decided to move interstate when Avalon was 9 months old. Not really near anyone we knew, but my mum was an hour drive away, as was Sarah, my wonderful friend who had also had a daughter around the same time I did.  Sarah was very supportive, she was funny and kind and when I finally came to the realisation that I was now a mum and my life had changed, she was there to help pull me out of my deep dark hole.

It took a few more months, some soul searching; more talking and opening up to finally overcome my PND. I sought comfort in my partner, my beautiful daughter, religion {for me it helped}, family, and friends. I realized that it was ok to talk about PND and finally I was no longer ashamed. Sure, I occasionally have an off day, but I love life again. Avalon is now 16 months old and I try and love her more and more each day. I love being a mum now and I love being happy again.

In the past I had had moments of great sadness, but I never really knew if it was depression. At the time I didn’t know who to talk to about it or if it was even worth talking about.  Hindsight is a beautiful thing isn’t it?

I wish I had been more persistent with trying to talk to a friend, family, or professionals like PANDA {Post and Antenatal Depression Association}.  Not only do women suffer from PND, but men also do.  One in 7 mothers suffer from this and more women and men need to talk about it and receive more support.  If you have a friend who you think seems pretty blue, down and out or having a bad day – talk to them, listen and keep your mind open.  And if you feel something is wrong with your life – trust your instinct and don’t leave it too late.

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For more information and tell tale signs visit these sites: Better Health Channel, One Woman’s Story, Beyond Blue.

Angie Heterick is a new full time mum and new wife, who spends any minute she can on her new blog A is for Love.  She is a journalist but is heading back to studying next year to do her diploma in Visual Arts.   She also loves watching ABC 2 and has a new passion for bright lipstick.

This week is Postnatal Depression Awareness week.  If you or someone you know is suffering from PND please call PANDA on 1300 726 306 or contact your local GP.



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