One in five mothers suffer from postnatal depression (PND), however many people shy away from talking about it.
PND, like many other mental illnesses, still has a negative stigma which needs to be lifted. This is why `Michelle' (who the Stratford Press agreed to use a different name for in this story), has chosen to share her
experience. Michelle says the lack of information and understanding is causing people with these
illnesses to hide and be ashamed, when they need to be talking about it and seeking help.
Michelle has been dealing with the effects of depression and suicidal thoughts since 16.
Michelle and her husband decided to start a family, however Michelle says the pregnancy worsened her existing depression and that hormonal changes toward the end of the pregnancy triggered Post Partum Pychosis and Bipolar.
``Although I was prepared for PND the doctors and midwives never spoke to me about other mental illnesses that could be triggered by pregnancy. I often wonder if things would have turned out differently if we'd been better informed.''
``I would be up at three in the morning, cleaning, rearranging or writing endless to-do lists, but to me this was just normal nesting''.
After numerous tests the doctors advised that physically Michelle and her baby were fine. But, mentally the doctors were worried about Michelle, so she was admitted to the maternity ward.
``I felt as though I had to prove that I didn't care what anyone else thought, and the only way to prove this was to run through the ward naked,'' she says.
Michelle found it difficult to connect with her baby and that was hard to come to terms with, as it would be for any mother, she says.
``To admit you haven't bonded with your baby, or wish you'd never had it because of what has happened, or say you don't feel love for your baby, that's really hard but it is also the first step in getting help and getting better.''
Michelle recently created a Facebook page: www.facebook.com/SupportForParentsCopingWithMentalIllness.
A PND support group has also been formed at the Stratford Parents Centre where parents can meet every third
Thursday of the month. It is open to anybody and runs from 10am-12pm.
``Whether it's someone suffering from PND now, or someone who had it years ago and wants to share their
story and support others - everyone is welcome, so please just come along and have a cuppa with us!''