Adam didn’t know much about postnatal depression until his wife went from being a gregarious extrovert to unable to get out of bed.
Adam Bishop and his wife, Bec, had not considered being faced with postnatal depression when they prepared for the birth of their first child.
Then baby Louis arrived a month early.
“I remember after Louis was born and we were in the hospital, there was a poster on the wall saying that one in seven women will experience postnatal depression,” Adam told Mamamia.
“And Bec’s comment was, ‘Those poor people, how sad’. Six weeks later, that was us.”
He said Louis’ early arrival meant he was unable to breastfeed. “So we ended up having this torturous cycle of sleep deprivation and fatigue associated with that, because Bec would be expressing milk and Louis seemed to want to wake every couple of hours.
“And six weeks after he was born, Bec was out by herself with Louis, walking in the park, and she found herself all of a sudden frozen, unable to move and lying on the ground,” Adam said.
“It was a pretty harrowing experience for her and led to an eventual diagnosis of postnatal depression (in Bec’s case, related to severe anxiety).”
He said the paralysing condition was confusing for the new parents, and placed a great deal of strain on their family, relationships and work commitments.
“Bec went from being a fiercely independent, extroverted person to someone who required my 24-hour care and that of her family, as well,” the 33-year-old father said.
“There were times when she couldn’t get out of bed until 4pm. That’s the way it was, it wasn’t her fault, but it was a challenge when you’re a new family and a new father and you’re expected to go to work to make some money to support the family.
“The fact that one half of the partnership just physically can’t function in the same way that you would normally expect, the burden of all those things falls elsewhere and there is so much to do.”
Adam said his role as CEO of Athletics SA was a fairly demanding one and trying to juggle his home and work commitments became difficult and had an impact on his relationship with colleagues.
“Unfortunately, that situation meant I had to do a lot of work from home,” he said. “I was working at 2 o’clock in the morning, when everyone was asleep, just trying to catch up on work.
“Work didn’t understand – it’s nothing against the individuals there, it’s just a lack of awareness. I just thought had I not been through this situation, I would not have an understanding of what’s going on.”