Sarah, 39, mum to Cody and Connie, experienced Postnatal Depression earlier this year after having her daughter.
When did you first realise realise you had postnatal Depression?
It was pretty soon after having Connie, I knew I felt very different to my first pregnancy. There wasn’t a problem with me bonding with the baby, that wasn’t the issue, I just knew I felt emotionally different. I remember after my first pregnancy the Health Visitor would ask if I’d had any teary days and I didn’t have any, I remember thinking should I be having them. However, after having Connie, there were lots and after 6 weeks they weren’t subsiding. I was up and down with moods, I realised something was different this time and that I needed to seek further help, so I spoke to the health visitor.
What were the symptoms?
My perception of PND before I experienced it was that you didn’t bond with your baby. But that wasn’t my issue, I loved Connie from the start, I felt stronger towards Cody now that the baby was here, I had a special bond with my children. But I knew I felt different and wasn’t myself. I was teary and very emotional at a time I should’ve been so happy.
How did it affect your relationships?
It affected my relationship with my partner pretty badly, I seemed to bottle everything up all week and then really took it out on him on a weekend when he was home, our weekends were horrendous. Even though he would phone and text throughout the week, all the negative feelings I’d had all week would come out on the weekend. But on the other hand, it strengthened my relationship with my sister, I was able to sit and talk to her about it. She would visit me a lot more and help out when she saw I was feeling low.
How was it diagnosed?
I plucked up the courage to speak to my health visitor. Once I talked to her about how I was feeling, she advised me to see my own GP and also recommended a counselling service, which she referred me to. I was a little apprehensive about seeing my GP, would they think it was another case of somebody thinking they had PND, but she was really understanding and really supportive, although every time I went to see her I cried again. She arranged to see me regularly, to see how I was doing.
What help/support was available?
My health visitor was brilliant, she was there if I needed her, she also referred me to a counsellor. My GP was really supportive too, a lot more than I expected. I also came across Raindrops to Rainbows which is a great help, especially if you don’t have a large support network. It lets you talk about Postnatal Depression openly, knowing everyone is in the same boat, nobody is there to judge.
Did you find it easy talking to family?
It was a little bit difficult at first because each time I went to speak about it, I got really upset which then I felt maybe Id exaggerated how I had felt. It was a catch 22, if I didn’t speak about it seemed ok and didn’t want to worry people, but then when I did speak about it I would break down and get upset about it. Are people going to think this is worse than it is. The taboo surrounding postnatal depression was also in the back of my mind, the relationship with the children wasn’t an issue, it was my own personal emotions that I wasn’t coping well with. They didn’t know much about PND, but my partner was very supportive as were my family, they would see when I was upset and help out by taking Cody for a walk to give me some time. It’s difficult to try and explain to people, while they are asking the questions and trying to be understanding, they assumed there was a trigger if ever I felt in a low mood. But only those that have been through it can understand, it doesn’t always take something to trigger it. So I would explain nothing had triggered it, I just woke up in a low mood and it was very difficult to pull myself out of it with everyone around, except the children. It was strange that the little person that caused it was the one that gave me so much joy.
What advice would you give to others with PND?
The first thing I would say is speak to somebody as soon as you know you’re not feeling yourself, don’t wait thinking it will pass. Whether it is a family member or friend, Health Visitor, GP or support groups like Raindrops to Rainbows. There is the support out there for anybody that needs it. I still have my off days now, but I manage to cope with it with the right support.
Sarah is still recovering from her Postnatal Depression and now running her own franchised business, Photography for Little People by Sarah Kerr, which has helped in her recovery, giving her motivation and something to focus on. For more information, please visit www.facebook.com/PhotographyforLittlePeoplebySarahKerr