The pic­ture that means SO MUCH

Woman (UK) - - Real Life -

Like any mum, I love my chil­dren, but there have been times in the past few years when

I was ter­ri­fied it was ac­tu­ally me they needed to be pro­tected from.

My first son, Zachary, was born in Oc­to­ber 2014. Through­out the preg­nancy, I’d been so ex­cited to meet him and, when he ar­rived, it was the hap­pi­est I’d ever felt. But that feel­ing of pure ela­tion started to ebb.

I’d find my­self star­ing at him in a daze as he slept, tears trick­ling down my cheeks. At first, I thought it was just the baby blues but, when I started cry­ing dur­ing night feeds, of­ten feel­ing sad and alone, I was wor­ried. When my then-hus­band Jack asked if ev­ery­thing was OK, I couldn’t even pre­tend I was fine, ad­mit­ting I didn’t know why I was feel­ing so down, but what I did know was that I didn't feel like I could be the mummy Zachary de­served.

Af­ter con­fid­ing in my mum, Tina, then 57, she ad­vised me to speak to my doc­tor.

My GP was quick to give me a di­ag­no­sis. ‘We’re deal­ing with post­na­tal de­pres­sion – PND,’ she said. I didn’t have a his­tory of de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety, but my GP said what I was feel­ing was com­mon. In fact, one in 10 women ex­pe­ri­ence PND within a year of birth, and it can af­fect dif­fer­ent women in dif­fer­ent ways. For me, I was with­drawn.

My doc­tor sug­gested talk­ing ther­apy and med­i­ca­tion, and I also got in touch with PAN­DAS, a char­ity sup­port­ing par­ents who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing PND. Talk­ing to other women was a huge help and, by May 2015, I felt strong enough to stop tak­ing my med­i­ca­tion.

‘I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST BABY BLUES’

Five months on, Jack and I even started try­ing for an­other baby and, when I fell preg­nant al­most straight away, we were thrilled. Yet part of me was wor­ried PND would resur­face.

Sadly, in Jan­uary 2016, while I was still preg­nant, I be­gan strug­gling again, and I was di­ag­nosed with post­na­tal anx­i­ety.

Friends and fam­ily ral­lied – so, when Erin was born in July 2016, I could fo­cus my en­ergy on her, and was able to come off med­i­ca­tion af­ter a month.

When I fell preg­nant again in Septem­ber 2017, we all felt pre­pared – but, af­ter Char­lie was born in June 2018, I had no symp­toms.

Sadly, in Jan­uary 2020, Jack and I sep­a­rated, and I've been get­ting used to the very busy life of solo par­ent­ing. Still, I urge any new mum who feels like she’s strug­gling to talk to fam­ily, friends and her GP. If I can come out the other side, then you can, too.

Visit pan­das­foun­da­tion.org.uk

Erin, Zachary and Char­lie

Cat strug­gled with post­na­tal de­pres­sion

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