Alison was suffering terribly from postnatal depression, but you'd never know from her social media posts.

Alison McQueen thought she knew what to expect from parenthood. But, like many new mums, she was “completely shocked” when the reality hit.

“I don’t think anything can prepare you for becoming a parent; I was overwhelmed with the responsibility of it,” she told Mamamia.

Alison felt compelled to post happy photos to social media.

The New South Wales mother said she quickly became extremely tired, anxious and unable to complete tasks.

“My baby slept for 16 hours a day, but I was utterly exhausted,” she said.

“I felt like I was just being sucked into a black hole. I didn’t want to go out and share my baby and I didn’t want people to come to me.

“I just felt like I was in a tunnel and I couldn’t get to the end – everything was just overwhelming and I was in a constant state of misery.”

Alison was struggling to get by, but kept her difficulties to herself.

But Alison kept her feelings close to her chest, managing to fool her friends, family and husband for months.

And if you followed her on social media, you would never have known there was anything wrong.

“I had my show face on for social media,” she said.

“I felt the need to post a happy family photo when I was absolutely in pieces.”

It’s all smiles for the camera, but behind the scenes Alison was “in pieces”.

“I felt I just had to say, ‘I’m a happy smiling mum and here’s my baby and everything’s OK’, rather than calling someone and saying, ‘I’m not OK’.”

She said there was one particular photo that came to mind, which she even edited before posting.

“I just felt so depressed. When the baby went to sleep I’d sit on the bathroom floor and cry, but I needed the photo on there,” she said.


The registered nurse said now she knows that no one can do absolutely everything perfectly.

“But, at the time, I felt immense pressure to succeed in everything – and I wasn’t at all,” she said.

“I felt very much that I’d failed as a mother because I couldn’t settle my baby and couldn’t seem to do the things that everybody else does.”

After keeping her struggles to herself for 10 months, Alison couldn’t contain them any longer. After a brunch with her friends, she broke down on the bathroom floor and her husband told her: “This can’t go on – you have to get help.”

Alison credits exercise as an important part of her recovery from PND.

The 37-year-old went to the doctor the following day and was diagnosed with postnatal depression. She began seeing a psychologist and said this was her lifeline, and the reason she got through this dark time.

The depression returned following the birth of her second child 14 months later. Again, she tried to hide it, but found herself hanging by a thread months later and going on anti-depressant medication.

Alison said she later discovered exercise and running, which she found hugely beneficial to her mental health, and is now living a happy, healthy lifestyle with her husband and two daughters.

A recent photo of Alison after a run with her daughters.

She advised new mums to educate themselves about postnatal depression and reach out and seek help as soon as possible.

As for believing the social media posts of family and friends, she says: “If it looks too perfect, it probably is.”

This Perinatal Depression & Anxiety Awareness Week, PANDA encourages all Australians to become aware of the prevalence of perinatal anxiety and depression, it’s not all black and white and everyone’s journey to parenthood is unique. We encourage new parents to reach out for support if they are struggling – PANDA’s free National Helpline 1300 726 306 is a great first step and offers counselling, information and services to support families throughout Australia.  

This year, PANDA are also encouraging parents to speak openly and honestly with each other during November through our Lunch Out Loud initiative, which encourages friends, family and workmates to get together for a positive and honest conversation about parenthood and life in general over lunch – wherever that may be!

For more information and 5 easy steps to organise your own Lunch Out Loud, see here.