I was afraid people would think I was a bad mother
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.”
REACHING OUT: Gorey-based Oscar and mum Pamela Lynch, who found support online through Facebook and Instagram.