Sunday, 25 May 2014

Depression, Postnatal and Beyond.

School Uniform, with Matching DollA new study, conducted by researchers in Australia, has really got me thinking. It was about depression, and how new research shows that mothers are more likely to suffer depression when their child is four, than when they are newborn. You can read more about it here. The focus for many years has always been on the post-natal, first few months after giving birth and, in my experience, access to the right services to deal with mental health issues falls away dramatically after this time. In the very early months, Health Visitors and other professionals are trained to look out for the signs that you might not be coping. They know what questions to ask and can arrange help fairly quickly, should things go wrong.

However, once you've got over that initial phase, help becomes harder to access, not least because you are left to recognise the signs yourself and seek your own help. That's hard. Really hard. Anyone who has ever suffered depression, will probably agree that it creeps up slowly. To begin with, you can write it off as a bad day, a sleepless night, maybe even a particularly stressful few weeks, or months... It's often someone else saying; 'Are you sure you're ok? How are you coping?', that sets off a chain of events, leading to diagnosis and treatment. But not always. Some people can feel steeped in their own inadequacy, feeling that they should be coping, or more organised or better prepared. Perhaps more like the other mums, who seem to manage so much better. They hide their 'shame' and don't realise, in actual fact, they are up there with up to 14% of mothers of older children. And this is the interesting bit. Is it any coincidence, I wonder, that the age range now defined as the most likely to lead to depression in mothers, half of which are first time parents, is the same as the age that most children start school? The article I read made no reference to a link, but it makes sense to me.

Mother holding new born
I had my first child at 18. I did it on my own from day one. I had an excellent support network of friends and family, but I lived alone with my daughter and took full responsibility for every aspect of her life. I took to motherhood like a duck to water. I clearly remember, not long after I brought her home from the hospital, looking down at her, lying on a rug kicking her legs about and wriggling away. I remember thinking how I should really be feeling overwhelmed, weighed down by the responsibility of it all. All I felt though, was a kind of peace and contentment. It genuinely felt like she had always been there. As if she had always been a part of my life. As such, my life never really changed, it just carried on, but I had the most wonderful companion to enjoy it with! It is no exaggeration to say I loved every breath in her body. As she grew, we became inseperable. She had a brilliant sense of humour, from a very young age, and everything was more fun together. We didn't have much money, but we would save up for a Sun holiday once a year, and organise picnics and days out. I never thought about how close we were. I certainly never saw it as a bad thing. Then, she started school.


Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with Chew Toy
It wasn't obvious at first, I went out with friends, did housework, excercised. I got a part time job, but I just lost myself a bit. I found basic tasks more difficult. I would struggle to keep appointments, I would fall asleep for no reason. I had no motivation to do anything. Looking back, it was classic depression, but at the time, I just thought I was a bit crap. As time, went on, I became less sociable and more introverted. It took a long time for me to realise, and face the fact, that all was not well. I

ended up on antidepressants, which was a huge shock. I wasn't that bad, was I?! I wasn't actually mental?! I had always viewed antidepressants as sort-of sedatives for REALLY bad cases, that couldn't find a way out. It might sound awful, and I know better now, but I felt that if you know something is wrong, you should be able to fix it. I'm a doer, I find solutions, not problems. I have to say though, once I got over the initial shock, and the antidepressants started to take effect, the result was really unexpected. I had more energy and began to feel a bit more like me. The medicine gave me the boost I needed to make practical changes in my life. I enrolled on a college course, got a loopy little dog, life started to make sense again! Once I went back to college, I had less time to myself which really helped, and everything got better. The bond we had still exists 18 years later and I still miss her when she goes to work or college. I probably always will, and I'm fine with that.

I sincerely hope that care for parents of older children will improve as a result of this study, but if you recognise any of the symptoms I described, I really want you to know that it DOES get better. It is not a failure to ask for help, it's the bravest, most unselfish thing you can do. Below are some links that might help.

Mind

Depression Alliance

NHS Choices


SHARE:

16 comments

Amy Deverson said...

Wow that was an amazing post to read. Well done for speaking out.
x

Vicky Hallnewman said...

well done for telling your story, this was mine when i had severe pnd http://beingtillysmummy.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/story-of-postnatal-mummy.html

jess ica said...

although not a parent, I understand some of what you went through in this post. It was a great read and hopefully it will help other mums x

samantha coopland said...

WOW Xx

Lucy Dorrington said...

You are very courageous to be so candid and I salute your bravery. I am so glad things have improved and you managed to get the help you needed.

Lucy Dorrington said...

Thank you, Amy, it was actually harder than I thought it would be!

Lucy Dorrington said...

Thank you, I hope so too, I hate to think of people suffering and not able to get the help they need.

Lucy Dorrington said...

Thank you . xx

Mellissa Williams said...

I think it's brave of you to talk about depression. Mental health issues are so often not talked about in our society. Depression is an awful illness and I am so glad you realised you were depressed and managed to gain help.

Lucy Dorrington said...

Thanks, Mellissa. I agree, and I hope that more people will talk about their experiences, so that suffers can see they are not alone.

Pippa Ainsworth said...

Great post thanks for your honesty. I've always struggled more before my babies have been born. Maternal mental health is such an important issue, no matter how old the child is.

Becky Bunting said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I think you are spot on with your comments about the focus being on the immediate post natal period and hopefully this study will help change this.

X Becca #maternitymondays

emma lander said...

What a great post to raise awareness and I think it will really help others. You've done so well.#MaternityMondays

Lucy Dorrington said...

So true, Pippa, I hope people are starting to realise this now. x

Lucy Dorrington said...

I do hope so, it's such a worry, it seems more common than you'd think.

Lucy Dorrington said...

Thanks Emma, I really appreciate you saying so. :-)

Post a Comment

© The Parent Game. All rights reserved.
MINIMAL BLOGGER TEMPLATES BY pipdig