pregnancy

What it's like to have post natal depression as a teenager.

When Catie Dale found out she was pregnant at just 16 years old, she immediately knew she wanted to keep the baby.

The months and years that followed were definitely not easy for the now 24-year-old, but Catie has never regretted her decision.

“I had no idea I was pregnant until my sister called me one day and said ‘You’re pregnant'”, she told Mamamia. “I thought it was a really weird thing to say to someone, but she was right.”

“Of course my life changed forever from that day, but for me there was never a decision to make,” she said. “I just had this intense feeling that I had to have this baby.”

teen pregnancy insight
Catie with her daughter, Bella. Image supplied.

Looking back, Catie can now recognise some of the signs of pregnancy from those early days - for one, she was suddenly turned off by chicken noodles and the 16-year-old always loved chicken noodles.

"I couldn't eat one of my favourite foods in the world and I had missed a period, but I just hadn't put it all together."

Catie was petrified of telling her parents, but their reactions helped cement her decision.

"I told my dad on the phone and he congratulated me," she recalled. "He said he was a bit disappointed in me and that this wasn't what he wanted for me, but he congratulated me and said he would be there to support me."

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"I remember that so clearly because he was the first person to congratulate me, and not many people congratulate a 16-year-old on getting pregnant.

"It made me feel a lot more confident in my decision."

Telling her mum wasn't as smooth-sailing, with Catie accidentally blurting it out during an argument.

"I said 'F**k you, I'm pregnant'," she explained. "I was angry and I didn't even mean to say it."

While in the beginning Catie's mum was mortified and angry, after a few weeks she was able to accept Catie's decision and be there for her.

"That grandmother instinct kicked in - she was still disappointed but she was also really excited."

While physically Catie had a very straightforward pregnancy, mentally it took a huge toll on her. Catie became a victim of online bullying and she felt like she couldn't return to school.

teen pregnancy insight
Catie with Bentley and Bella. Image supplied.

"Everyone in Brisbane sort of knows everyone else, and I pretty quickly became a victim of online bullying.

"It was pretty horrendous, I wanted to go back to school, but I didn't want to face my bullies in person."

Eight years on, Catie says the same bullies still talk about her and her decision to have a baby at 16.

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"They say things like 'What's that slut up to these days, I bet she's in a gutter somewhere or on Centrelink'," she said. "I don't know why, but my life is still a topic of interest to these people."

Catie also suffered from postnatal depression in the months following the birth of her daughter, Bella.

"I couldn't bond with her, I didn't want to be near her, I just couldn't do it," she said. "And I had absolutely no idea what was going on."

Catie's mum would look after Bella while the teenager would go out partying. Catie thought the partying would make her feel better, but she soon realised it was just a band aid solution to a really big problem.

"One day I woke up and thought 'What the fuck am I doing with my life?'", she said. "I was severely depressed and all I wanted to do was bond with my daughter."

So Catie packed up all her stuff and moved to her dad's property in Toowoomba. There she was diagnosed with postnatal depression, she slowly started to heal, and she finally bonded with her daughter.

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"I had plenty of time to relax and regroup and bond with my daughter."

When Catie was 19 she gave birth to her son, Bentley, and she had a profoundly different experience.

"Everything about the pregnancy and the birth was completely different, I had a lot more support, I was happy, I didn't experience postnatal depression, the bullying had died down."

Catie is now 24 and she's just graduated from a nursing diploma, next year she plans to start a nursing degree at university.

"If I can get through what I've gone through, I can definitely get through a nursing degree.

"I just want the best for my kids. I've started right at the bottom and I've been able to prove to myself and everyone else that I can make a great life for my kids."

Catie is appearing on tonight's episode of Insight on SBS, alongside other teen parents from around Australia.

Insight asks 'What's it like to be a teen parent?' at 8.30 tonight on SBS. 

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