I was afraid peo­ple would think I was a bad mother

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Feature -

PAMELA Lynch suf­fered symp­toms of de­pres­sion, anx­i­ety and low mood while preg­nant with her son Os­car. It was only when she looked back over her preg­nancy that she re­alised how de­pres­sion was af­fect­ing her. “As I had pre­vi­ously suf­fered with de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety,” she says. “I was aware that, sta­tis­ti­cally, I was more at risk of post­na­tal de­pres­sion and from about four months preg­nant my anx­i­ety re­ally came to the fore.” She felt an im­pres­sion of be­ing judged with the stigma of peri­na­tal and post­na­tal de­pres­sion hang­ing over her. “I had been very open about my pre­vi­ous men­tal health dif­fi­cul­ties, how­ever, I felt dif­fer­ent about ad­mit­ting I was suf­fer­ing with peri­na­tal and post­na­tal de­pres­sion. I was afraid peo­ple would think I was a bad mother. I was afraid peo­ple would judge me. I was afraid peo­ple would be watch­ing my ev­ery move and com­ment­ing on ev­ery­thing I did. “Upon dis­charge from the hos­pi­tal af­ter hav­ing my baby, I was asked if I was feel­ing okay, and if I wanted to be as­sessed by the men­tal health team. I be­lieved I was okay. I was leav­ing the hos­pi­tal hav­ing been in for five days. I’d had a trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence and I was fi­nally go­ing home with my baby and my hus­band. I was happy to be leav­ing. If any­thing, this was ab­so­lutely not the right time to ask me if I was feel­ing okay. I didn’t have time to think, I didn’t want to think, I wanted to be­gin life with my fam­ily.” Lack of sup­port in the com­mu­nity, no sup­port groups and very lit­tle in­for­ma­tion about peri­na­tal and post­na­tal de­pres­sion led Pamela to set up an anony­mous In­sta­gram ac­count to doc­u­ment her jour­ney with peri­na­tal and post­na­tal de­pres­sion. “This proved to be the best thing I could have done. So many women con­tacted me in the ini­tial weeks say­ing they felt the ex­act same as I did,” she says. Med­i­ca­tion, coun­selling, mind­ful­ness, med­i­ta­tion and self-care played a big part in her re­cov­ery but the turn­ing point was see­ing she wasn’t alone. Along with her In­sta­gram, she also set up a Face­book group, Post­na­tal De­pres­sion and Anx­i­ety Sup­port Group Ire­land, to sup­port women who suf­fer with peri­na­tal and post­na­tal de­pres­sion. She found the group in­valu­able to her re­cov­ery. “I dread to think had I not known, or recog­nised that I was be­gin­ning to strug­gle how long I would have con­tin­ued on for, and how much worse I may have be­come.”

Pic­ture: Pa­trick Browne

REACH­ING OUT: Gorey-based Os­car and mum Pamela Lynch, who found sup­port on­line through Face­book and In­sta­gram.

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