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'I had decided to die': Six years ago, my daughter's kindergarten teacher saved my life.

This post deals with post-natal depression and suicide, and might be triggering for some readers. 

Six years ago, my daughter's kindergarten teacher saved my life.

My second child was born five weeks premature. I had HELLP syndrome and almost died. 

My daughter struggled to breathe. She struggled to feed. I had no milk. She had reflux and colic and screamed up to 21 hours a day. It was hell, and for the first few weeks I didn't sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. 

Watch: Em Rusciano talks to Mia Freedman about working with post-natal depression. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

I literally went crazy from sleep deprivation. I felt like a failure; I felt guilty; I felt like I was drowning and I feared I was dragging everyone down with me. By the time she was three weeks old, I had decided to kill myself, and by the time she was four weeks old I had a plan.  

I knew I needed help. I went to the doctor, the post-natal clinic and the child health nurse. I scored 28 out of 30 on the post-natal depression questionnaire, but I was placed on a waiting list to receive help. 

I tried. I really, really tried.  

At the same time, my daughter's kindergarten teacher asked me to come in for reading group and read with the kids. It was the last thing I wanted to do, but I figured it would be one more memory for my eldest daughter before I died.

I got to the classroom and the teacher took the baby from me. She told me I looked tired, and said she'd hold the baby for five minutes, then directed me to the staff room to make myself a coffee.  

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I did. I made the coffee, I slid down the bench, collapsed on the floor and I cried. And cried. And cried.  Then I drank the coffee, while it was still hot, while someone else held my screaming baby.  

She asked me to come back next week. I said no obviously, because I wasn't planning on being alive the following week. But she promised to take her again, and for the first time since I had given birth I felt the tiniest slice of hope.  

That night I got my husband to give her a bottle of formula and I slept for almost three hours straight. 

Two days later I wrote a post on Facebook saying I was struggling and needed help, and many friends offered.  

At seven weeks old our baby grew out of her reflux, and three days later she slept through the night. 

I finally felt human, and I started to get better.  

It's six years later and I love my life. The newborn who almost broke me is a smart, brave and hilarious six-year-old who makes us laugh every single day. My kindergartener is now almost 12 and has the most beautiful soul, in part due to my influence. If I had left her she would never have been the same. 

My amazing husband, who felt so helpless watching me struggle, and who I became so disconnected from, is my best friend again. We've just celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary, we made love twice yesterday and I fell asleep with his arms wrapped around me.

It gets better. If you are in the darkness of PND, please reach out for help. If you have made it through, please share your story to make someone else feel less alone. If you see someone struggling, please help them. 

PND affects one in seven women. You are not alone.

And to that teacher, thank you.

If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from depression, contact PANDA – Post and Antenatal Depression Association. You can find their website here or call their helpline – 1300 726 306.

Feature Image: Getty.

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