I experienced PND and it was the most the daunting phase of my life. I felt alone, I was terrified and I was obsessed with my child. No one around me knew what I was going through and although I tried to explain it they didn’t get it! My gynecologist put me onto medication and kept on increasing the dosage every time I said I’m not feeling better which pushed me into a daze, my immediate family insisted I take the medication as they was afraid I might harm myself or my baby from all the horror stories they heard or read online, my in laws called me a borderline schizophrenic, as for my husband he was only worried I’ll become addicted to the medication since he saw someone close to him get addicted to medication and he believed its mind over matter and as for those outside my immediate circle people always wanted to know why do you look so blank or far away or how can you look so depressed when you just got this wonderful bundle of joy. However, I was on the wrong medication, I was not a borderline schizophrenic, it was most certainly not mind over matter and yes I did get the best baby ever but my mind was not able to process it well at the time!!!!!!! It was Post Natal Depression an illness that overtook my entire being and I needed help!
People with a depressive illness not only have to manage their symptoms but also cope with the stigma and discrimination these conditions receive. Stigma has a large impact on help-seeking behaviours with research indicating that many sufferers choose not to pursue treatment so as to avoid the label of ‘mental illness’ and the discrimination associated with such a label, I was one of those people who was ashamed to get help openly, I told only a few people and when they didn’t understand my condition I believed there is something wrong with me and it might all be in my mind, I stopped taking my medication and got progressively worse, this affected my marriage drastically as I was always sad, moody and distant, I was obsessed with my child. My husband never understood my plight and always said or did insensitive things (which might have been unintentional) and that aggravated my condition. I started putting up a fake happy face when I met people but I was completely blank in my mind when I was having a conversation with them it was like having a full blown conversation that I interacted in and then not remembering anything after that. I wish I got help sooner but eventually one day after 9 months of suffering I went to an event where I met a homeopathic doctor, she piqued my interest as she was a weight loss specialist and I was suffering with my weight so I decided to make an appointment with her. It was an expensive appointment and my husband wasn’t interested in me going for it however I’m so glad that I did as this was the start of my healing journey. I went into her rooms and the moment she greeted me and asked me what I was there for I burst into tears and broke down completely, she then assessed me and came to the conclusion that my hormones were completely off and I was suffering from major depression, she prescribed me medication to balance my hormones and mind which didn’t zone me out of reality and from there I was on my road to recovery.
After I overcame my depression I studied PND more in depth via an online campus and even did my honours in psychology and that is when I came to know that new mothers with postpartum depression showed to have breastfed less or none at all compared to mothers that were not depressed, this was so true in my case as I felt like a failure and at 5 months I stopped breastfeeding whereas with my second child because I got help early I knew what to expect and was able to breastfeed till she was 2. Similarly, postpartum depression impacted the mother’s health in several ways, including making her more likely to develop depression and engage in risky and isolated behaviour which was also 100% true in my case as I was obsessive with my baby since I felt like a failure I needed to over compensate and also isolated myself from everyone. Postpartum depression affected the child during maternal-infant bonding, which was also true for me as my depressive disorder made me over obsessive and robotic leading me to do my duty but not bond emotionally.
Breastfeeding or bottle feeding (whatever works for you and the baby), maternal health, and child health are impacted by postpartum depression, Screening, diagnosis, and treatment can help reduce prevalence rates for new mothers. Addressing the stigma associated with being diagnosed with a mental health issue, and the inability to care for your own child in the best way possible physically and emotionally are big factors in seeking care for symptoms of postpartum depression
It’s time to end the stigma of how we address postpartum depression and to start openly talking about the disorder - whether the stigma includes avoiding the depression or how it’s a personal problem to address. We openly talk about all other illnesses so why not mental illness? Mental illness is still an illness, it just cannot be seen but it is just as serious as any other disease. Screening and diagnosis are not uniform, and less than 10% of mothers received treatment. Stigma was high in most depressed mothers, especially those that had low support or were unaware of methods to receive help.
I hope by sharing my story I’m able to help even one mum who needs the help but doesn’t have the support, to get help by herself. Reach out, there is help all around! My journey of dealing with PND got me to further my studies in the mental health field and I now run a free support group for all mums, if you would like to join us for a completely confidential judgement free session please feel free to contact me on my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via my Instagram DM (@pndhelp).
GET HELP YOU DESERVE TO GET BETTER!!!!