Continuing my May theme for the Real Mums series, I have spoken with the lovely Deb about her experience of Postnatal Depression and anxiety. Experiencing a variety of stressors around the time of her pregnancies was a trigger for her PND and anxiety. Tonight, Deb shares her story of being a Postnatal Depression Real Mum and her role as a PANDA Community Champion to help other mums going through a similar experience. Thanks for sharing your story with us Deb! x
Hi Deb! Thank you so much for joining us this week for the Real Mums series and sharing your story of going through Postnatal Depression and Anxiety as part of the May series on PNDA. I always like to start with a bit of an introduction, so could you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?
I’m 39 years old, a mum to an almost 3-year-old boy and a 15-month-old girl, and step mum to 3 older children. I used to work in Childcare and as a Children’s Services Trainer before the kids. Now I’m a stay at home mum which I absolutely love! 😊 We love family time, such as going out camping, on day trips, 4wding and to country music festivals.
What does a “typical” week look like in your household?
It’s quite busy. My fiancé works Monday to Friday and is gone early in the morning. The kids and I try to walk every day and we have playgroup on Wednesdays. My step children stay over on a Wednesday night which is busy with sport practice, and they stay every 2nd weekend.
Your story starts before you were pregnant with you first son. Can you tell us a bit about the events leading up to your first pregnancy?
I suffered a little anxiety many years ago and was anxiety free for a long time. My fiancé has 3 children from his first marriage, but their mother withheld them from us for four months which led to attending the family court. We miscarried our first baby during this time which brought up my anxiety.
When you were pregnant with Coop, you had some extremely stressful external circumstances. How did this affect your pregnancy?
I was very anxious about a repeat miscarriage, every twinge etcetera brought up anxiety. We were attending the family court regarding my step children throughout this time which was very stressful. I guess I didn’t really relax a lot throughout Cooper’s pregnancy. Having a birth that didn’t go as I planned and being unable to breastfeed also added to my anxiety and PND.
When you were pregnant with Sophie, what was this pregnancy like for you? What were your thoughts surrounding PND/PNA after experiencing it after the birth of Coop?
We fell pregnant with Sophie before Coops’ 1st birthday and I experienced a difficult pregnancy, suffering from pelvic instability so I had limited physical abilities. I was seeing a psychologist as part of the Mum Mood Booster Research Program from Austin Health. This helped a lot in preparing for the possibility of PND a second time around. I worked on strategies to use throughout and post birth, such as meditation, mindfulness exercises and walking as much as I can.
There seemed to be several triggers you experienced that resulted in your PND/PNA. Were you aware of these beforehand? Do you feel like you knew what PND/PNA was before you recognised what you were experiencing?
I guess in the back of my mind I knew that what I was experiencing were triggers, however I was trying to be strong to support my fiancé so I ignored them for quite some time. I vaguely knew what PND was but I didn’t really recognise that I was experiencing it. My doctor had mentioned that I was at a higher risk, but I just thought it wouldn’t happen to me.
Did you have a formal diagnosis of PND/PNA and if so, what was the process for that? If not, how did you go about determining that you had PND/PNA?
My mum mentioned to the midwives, that visited at home, that I was teary, etcetera, and they recommended seeing my doctor as soon as possible. My GP asked specific questions and determined that it looked like PND. She suggested medication to help me through so I began taking Zoloft.
Do you still experience the anxiety/depression on occasion? If so, how do you manage it?
I still experience anxiety, however I am able to manage this much easier. I do mindfulness exercises, walk every day, try and keep myself busy, and I journal when I can feel it happening. I also open up to my fiancé about my concerns and feelings now which helps.
You are now a Community Champion for PANDA. How did you come across this role, and what does being a Community Champion mean to you?
I heard about this role on Facebook actually. Being a community champion is about raising awareness around PND and trying to break the stigma that surrounds it. There is still so much about PND that’s misunderstood in society – I was even told to just toughen up. I feel that if I can help even one person open up, or see that they’re not alone then I’ve succeeded.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Deb! I know many mums will appreciate reading your story.