CASE SUDY 1: Jill aged 38 years, married with one girl Lucy. Worked as a nurse prior to having Lucy.
Jill noticed that she was suffering symptoms when Lucy was about 6 months old. She felt light-headed, unable to focus, overwhelmed, worried and was doubting her ability as a mother. She also noticed that she was sad most days and got angry very easily and for no apparent reason. She became obsessed with cleaning the house, and making sure that Lucy was well looked after. She stopped seeing her friends, and found the task of getting ready to go out too difficult.
Jill has suffered from episodes of anxiety and depression in the past, and was also dealing with her husband’s illness.
“Personally I had great difficulty waking up in the morning. I remember I would see the morning light in our bedroom and feel dread that there was another day to somehow conquer. I was concerned about my ability to handle my babies needs, and found it very difficult to pack a bag just to go out or to organise what to have for dinner. It often ended up with me in tears and feeling pretty useless. It was difficult to think, concentrate or make decisions.
It was a survival mode and I just felt I was on a treadmill going nowhere.
“I overcame PND by having individual consultations and by attending the PND course. It was such a relief to know that I wasn’t the only one going crazy. Even though everyone had their own situation, I realised I wasn’t alone and it gave me hope. We started to laugh at ourselves and we were taught how to think differently and doing something for ourselves. The group sessions were like permission to have time for me, and I realised that time out for myself was not a privilege it was a necessity for the whole family.”
CASE STUDY 2: Liz, mother of 3 girls, Taylah, Sophie and Charlotte and worked as a teacher before starting her family
After I came home from hospital after having our second child, I felt that that baby blues were worse than before, and I could not stop crying. I felt anxious and depressed all of the time, and felt completely inadequate. I didn’t want to ask for help, and wanted to pretend that I was ‘super mum’ and that I could cope with 2 children as easily as the next person. Over the next few weeks I started to feel numb, I would look at my two daughters and think to myself that I love them and want to protect them, but I had no strong maternal feelings towards them. I resented my husband and blamed him for everything. Postnatal depression nearly cost me my marriage, even though my husband was supportive, I kept pushing him away and thought about leaving. He eventually begged me to go and see my doctor.
“My recovery from PND was helped by the overwhelming support that I received from my psychologist and the amazing women in the PND group. It was important for me to know that I was not alone in these thoughts and feeing and that I wasn’t going mad. They were there to share their experiences and to listen to mine. No one was there to judge, but to support each other through an extremely hard time in our lives that we could all relate to. The strategies that were taught helped me to cope with my thoughts and feelings also helped a great deal, and it was wonderful to get an answer as to why I was feeling and behaving the way that I was. Going to the PND support group also got me out of the house and back to the land of the living again.”
CASE STUDY 3: Justine 34 years old, married with 3 boys
I got PND after the birth of our first son, but did not seek treatment until I was pregnant with the second son. I suffered with physical symptoms such as upset stomach, insomnia and feeling exhausted. I was also very stressed and quick to anger, and my anger was out of proportion to the event. I was unable to relax, and felt my mind was racing all the time. I was constantly thinking about things I needed to get done, and focused on all the negatives. I was used to feeling in control, but now I felt hopeless most of the time. I felt bad about myself because I was losing my temper with my child. I finally realised that I was being angry for my son for behaving exactly as a toddler should behave. I knew that I had to get some help, so that I could enjoy my relationship with him and stop the anger.
“Being part of the PND group helped me to get better. Listening to others experiences helped to normalise mine and reduce the sense of isolation. It also gave me a place where I could talk about how I felt and know that everyone understood.”
CASE STUDY 4: Toni 28 musician and mother of one boy, Dante
I felt unable to cope, and hopeless. I could not concentrate and cried most of the day. I lost all of my confidence and self-esteem and could not adjust to the changes in our life. It felt as if my life was becoming smaller and I felt “caged”. I didn’t get out and have fun like I used to. If I did go out, I spent the whole time worried about the babies sleeping and feeding times.
The PND course gave me a different perspective on things. It made me realise I wasn’t failing at life, just going through a more tricky section of life’s obstacle course. Lisa taught us strategies to help change our negative thinking patterns. And through the guided discussion and sharing times with the other mothers I realised that I wasn’t alone and that my situation was not unique. I learned how to ask for help and not feel guilty about it. In fact I learned that feeling ‘guilty’ was part of the problem in the first place. The course provided me with a safe environment to share my worries and concerns, without being judged or ignored. I felt valued and empowered for a more positive future. And, I learned a whole new appreciation for the words ‘time out’!