Postnatal Depression and Me: Guest Post by Emma Koster

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

Today’s guest post in support of Postnatal Depression Awareness Week is written by Emma Poster.

Post-natal depression and me

I can still remember the day clearly. Evie was coming up to six weeks old, and my Health Visitor had just arrived for our six-week post-natal check. We went through the usual “how is your caesarean section scar healing?”, “any problems with feeding?”, “have you thought about contraception?”, and so on.
Then, though, we went on to talk about how I was feeling.

It was part of the NHS’ screening for post-natal depression programme, and it was filling me with dread.

Postnatal Depression Awareness week

The Health Visitor explained that she was going to ask me a series of questions, and she would then score my answers to determine whether I may be suffering from post-natal depression.

I already knew what the score would say.

I’d found those first six weeks incredibly hard.

If I’m being completely honest, I’d found the late half of my pregnancy a struggle emotionally, too.

I lost count of the number of times I cried each day. I really felt like I wasn’t coping, and I was having more and more thoughts about harming myself.

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

I loved my beautiful baby, Evie, of course I did.

But, I wasn’t enjoying being a mummy back then.

Please select the answer that comes closest to how you feel

Although, deep down, I already knew that I as suffering with post-natal depression, I had no idea how to talk to anybody about it.

Was I just supposed to blurt it out?

What would people think?!

It was only when the Health Visitor started asking me direct questions that I felt I could start to admit how I was feeling. She asked me how often things had been getting on top of me.

Most of the time.

In fact, I felt like I wasn’t coping at all.

How often had I felt scared or panicky for no good reason?

Often.

Very often.

Having somebody ask me these questions, and asking me to pick the most suitable response, it was exactly what I needed.

The Survey Says …

It came as no huge surprise that my answers suggested I was suffering from post-natal depression.

My Health Visitor phoned my doctors surgery on my behalf, and booked me an appointment for later that day.

The diagnosis was confirmed then, and I was put on some medication to help alleviate some of the symptoms.

It took a while for the tablets to start working, but I instantly felt a little better after admitting to somebody how I had been feeling.

It was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

The months that followed were hard, but I gradually started to feel like things were getting easier.

Alongside the medication, I made other changes.

This included making time for ‘me’.
Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

Not easy when you have a new-born, I know, but so vitally important.

I also started being more honest with other mummies. Up until that point, I’d found that all the mummies I met at baby groups would tell me how much they were enjoying parenthood, and how wonderful everything was.

I, of course, smiled and nodded along.

Once I admitted, though, that I was struggling, and didn’t have a bloody clue what I was doing, everybody else started opening up more too.

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week PANDAS

It was so refreshing to learn that I wasn’t the only one who had no idea how to get their little darling to sleep in their cot.

I wasn’t the only one who sometimes struggled to get dressed until gone midday, if at all.

I wasn’t the only one who struggling to enjoy the first few weeks of parenthood. Phew!

Fast forward a year

Evie is now thirteen months. I’m not quite sure how that has happened, but the big black circles under my eyes seem to confirm it.

I’ve seen my GP regularly about my post-natal depression over the last year, and together we have agreed to start reducing the dosage of my medication.

In hindsight, I was probably a bit too eager to do this, and ended up taking things too quickly.

I started to feel like I was struggling again, so I increased the dosage slightly, again with the advice from my GP.

I wouldn’t say I feel more like ‘the old me’ as I am pretty sure the old me wouldn’t be routinely sniffing another human being’s bottom to see if they had ‘gone’, and wouldn’t – usually – be singing silly songs and blowing raspberries as they graced the aisles of the supermarket.

I do, though, feel much better.

Yes, I still doubt my parenting skills regularly.

After all, little humans don’t come with a manual, and I becoming quite a pro at ‘winging it’.

I am, though, enjoying being a mummy much more than I was.

I feel I am coping much better.

I finally feel that I am beating post-natal depression.

Em x

Thank you to Emma for sharing her story.

If you’ve read this post today and feel that it relates to what you’re currently experiencing – please- don’t suffer in silence.

There is help and support out there.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images from PANDAS and UnSplash

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week: Guest Post on PTSD

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week

This week I’m proudly supporting PND Awareness Week with PANDAS

Today’s guest post is written by Claire North and her experience of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The 2nd August 2014 was the start of a very exciting new venture for me and my husband as I was taken into hospital to be induced with our first baby. We had waited patiently for 38 weeks and the time had finally come.

PANDAS Pregnancy image

My labour induction started like most, pessaries and a hormone drip to get baby on the move, eventually after 6 hours my waters were broken and from then on things started to progress pretty quickly, after getting to around 5cm dilated I could see the midwife rush around, she quickly dropped the bed and asked me to lay on my side!

She pushed the emergency button and a load of midwives started running in, I could see the colour drain from my husband and mam’s face and I knew something was wrong immediately.

I was told that my babies heart rate had dropped and so I was being taken to emergency theatre to be monitored.

On arrival to theatre it was all systems go, the midwives and doctors were rushing around and prepping tools ready to deliver my baby by Caesarean section.

I lay there wondering if my baby would be alive when he was born and my eyes were pouring with tears. Some tests to check the epidural was working took place and things went from bad to worse when I was told I would have to go under general anaesthetic in order for my baby to be born!

Because of this my husband wasn’t allowed to be present for the birth, I sobbed!

I was so worried and scared, would I wake up from surgery? Would I wake up to my baby having died?………..

I came round a few hours later, I remember I was in so much pain but it soon disappeared when I was handed a beautiful healthy baby boy!

He was perfect!

Postnatal Hands PANDAS

Life was great, sure I had the regular baby blues but nothing out of the ordinary or so I thought. I would wake in the night from terrible nightmares and repetitions of my birth, I’d have dreams that my baby boy had died.

I told myself that I didn’t deserve this baby and that he would die.

I became over protective of him, I wouldn’t let anyone else take care of him because to me I couldn’t trust them to take care of him properly.

On odd occasions when I did have to leave him with my husband I would be stressed, constantly texting and I would rush home to see that he was safe.

I would get anxious when meeting with friends and would decide on if I was going depending on how safe it was, example. Was it near a lake where my baby’s pushchair could roll in, was it raining making the roads bad and higher risk of a car crash…basically extreme thoughts! I struggled on by myself and hid it from my family and friends for almost 1 year.

The turning point for me came after a huge breakdown.

Post Natal Depression - Image from Unsplash

My little boy had been sleeping through the night for some time and yet I found myself waking more and more to check my baby was still breathing….except he was no longer a baby!

He was a toddler!

My husband began questioning why I was waking to check him and I broke down, I knew it was because I was due to return to work!

I was going to have to leave my boy with someone else whilst I was working and I couldn’t bare the thought.

My husband rang the doctors and took me down to the surgery straight away, I was scared, I thought I would be judged, the doctor would think I wasn’t capable of looking after a child and my husband would think I was a failure…. I was so wrong!

The doctor was very supportive, they called Talking Matters and made an appointment for someone to call me.

The next day I received a call from them and talked about all my feelings and thoughts and the lady listened, she didn’t judge, she assured me and more importantly told me that someone could help me!

Help me stop these terrible nightmares/flashbacks/extreme thoughts, it was the first time in almost a year where I felt a little relief and that I wasn’t alone.

Two weeks after my telephone appointment I met with my counsellor, she was amazing! She taught me coping mechanisms, calming strategies and more importantly how to take time for myself and listen to my own needs!

Postnatal Depression Awareness week

For so long I had tunnel vision and it was baby baby baby!! Over time I began to start doing things for myself, I started going out more and enjoyed it, knowing that my little boy was safe and sound at home.

I guess the reason it took me so long to admit I had a problem was because there wasn’t a lot of awareness at the time and I was scared.

I can’t say that it’s an overnight fix and that after one chat with a counsellor everything will be better but I can tell you that you aren’t alone.

And you ARE DOING AN AMAZING JOB!

Thanks to Claire North for sharing her story.

If you’ve read this and feel that you’re experiencing what Claire went through – please – speak up. 

You are not alone.

There is help and support out there.

Love Missuswolf xxx

Images from PANDAS and UnSplash 

PND Awareness Week 2017

PANDAS PND Awareness Week 2017

Postnatal Depression Awareness Week runs from 4th- 10th September this year.

I’m a firm believer people come into your life for a reason.

Rachael Logue, a lovely lady I met at Pregnancy yoga, was pivotal in my postnatal journey.

At the time, she was setting up Tots and Tums. 

These sessions alone got me out of the house with my tiny new bundle.

To have a coffee.

To chat to other new mums.

To escape my own four walls for someone else’s.

Motherhood is a crazy ride that you’re thrust into.

And once upon a time, it was a community – a village even- that helped raise a baby.

Now, despite social media providing a means of online community, we are actually more isolated in ‘real life’ than we once were.

Which can enhance those already overwhelming feelings a new parent (or even a second or third time parent) is experiencing.

Rachael was diagnosed with Postnatal depression last year.

A year later and Rachael’s doing much better and Tots and Tums has gone from strength to strength.

It’s now rebranded as Relax … Holistic Baby Fitness.

Relax Holistic Baby Fitness

There’s so much happening it makes me want to be on maternity leave again!

Joking aside, this is a great support network offering baby classes, fitness clubs and relaxation sessions.

Rachael has pooled her energy into helping other parents by providing that community of support.

That community that helps you raise a baby.

Read Rachael’s story again below …

I didn’t recognise that I was suffering from Postnatal Depression straight away, despite being trained in PND and Mental Health and previously suffering depression.

You see, my own business collapsed three years ago when the funding ceased. I had to let go of twelve members of staff; twelve local people all with families to look after and roofs over their heads – twelve people who had bills to pay.

Just like me.

I suffered from anxiety which turned into depression.

Post Natal Depression - Image from Unsplash

Through suffering depression three years ago, I recognise that I have manias: On a high I can take loads of work on and I feel like I could conquer the world. Last week , I had three really good days where I was involved in Jolly Babies, Lush Tums Postnatal Yoga and then a day trip to Whitby with my family. On a low, I want to shut myself back in my bubble, away from the world.

I’ve learnt that it’s all about understanding me as a person.

Which I thought I did when it came to having my second child, Evie, back in February.

I had Evie at 09.50 in the morning and I was out of hospital and home by 5pm – make-up on the lot – getting on with motherhood. 

My feet hadn’t touched the ground.

I went back to work after six weeks on the Postnatal Depression project that I had created while I was pregnant.

I was busy;  I’d get up and take Cameron to school and then I was off working at the groups that I’d set up.

I was focusing so much on my family and supporting other families in my work that I completely forgot about myself.

My breakdown point was when I’d left the house really early one morning. I was just walking around Blyth in the rain in what I can only describe as a confused mist. I felt lost and numb.

Postnatal depression talking PANDAS







I remember the day. It was a Tuesday.

I couldn’t think straight.

I found myself walking towards and going intoTalking Matters on the main street in Blyth. They couldn’t see me straightaway but they did give me a leaflet with a contact number on. I rang the number and talked, which helped a lot. 

I knew what I needed to do but I just hadn’t been thinking straight. I made a doctors appointment that day. 

I gained support from the doctor who didn’t dismiss it as just the ‘baby blues’.  They prescribed me some medication – sertraline. I’m now into week eight of taking this. 

Sertraline tabletsWhen I was suffering Postnatal Depression, I wasn’t one for not getting up and ready in a morning; I had to do this to take my oldest to school. It was the little things – like the thought of folding clothes. Simple chores became too much to deal with. I also went into a zone where I didn’t want to see or contact anybody. I wanted to stay at home, just me and Evie.

I retreated into my own little bubble.

You hear of mother’s not bonding with their babies, but my motherly instinct and love for Evie was over-the-top love. I’d do things like take Evie off my partner when he held her.

I’ve found that you do forget about yourself and therefore you do need to take time out. I did postnatal Yoga in Ridley Park on Friday and, although I had both kids with me, it was still time doing something for myself. Cameron even enjoyed it, it was accessible to things he never thought he would be interested in. It showed him that it’s not all about xbox and school, that it’s natural to go into the park and get involved in other activities with other people.

Postnatal Yoga in Ridley Park Blyth

I’m slowly getting back on track now and I’m taking things one step at a time. I’m in a good place now and getting out and just talking with other parent’s has made a huge impact already. I’ve found that it’s good to talk and not suffer in silence.

PANDAS PND Awareness Week 2017

PND Awareness Week is all about that – raising awareness of those feelings of postnatal depression.

If you’ve read this today and it resonates with how you’re feeling- please – speak up.

There is support out there.

To find out more on where to get help or how to get involved check out the PANDAS website.

You are not alone in this.

This is the motherhood.

We are the sisterhood.

Love Missuswolf xxx