Listen To Yourself – Gail’s Story – Mental Health Awareness
Hi all, and welcome back to my blog. Today is day 16 of my mental health awareness month. If you missed yesterdays interview with Ariel, get that here. Today I am joined by Gail from Mimicking Motherhood, who is talking to me about Postnatal Depression.
Hello! I am mother to five, photographer, artist and mental health advocate. I have been blogging for almost 15 years but only this year have I decided to really take it to the next level.
What type of Post Natal metal health condition did you, or do you have?
I had PPD with psychosis. I currently live with bipolar and anxiety disorder, as well as PTSD.
When did you first realise that you had a mental health condition, what were your first symptoms?
My first symptoms were fear and sadness. While I probably suffered before my children, I really struggled with the birth of my second child. Things didn’t exactly go the way I had planned, and I was left with this baby, lots of questions and horrible looming gray close.
How did this affect your parenting?
Basically, it kept me from leaving my house and in the long run, enjoying the first few months of their lives. With Davis, my second, I remember vividly trying to talk myself out the delusion that someone was going to come take him and his sister away or that I wasn’t producing enough milk, we couldn’t really afford formula and I was going to starve him to death. There was no basis for either of those fears, but they became so vivid and real, it was all I could do not to never come out of the dark of our house again.
What was your biggest worry about having a mental health condition?
That there will be a day I will fail to keep it under control and either hurt myself or someone else. I’ve lost a brother to suicide; I worry all the time, I might be next. I also worry that I have passed it onto my children. I see signs of it in them, but I do feel confident in that because I know how to handle myself now, I will be able to help them down their own mental health journeys should they encounter one.
Did you receive any help? If so, what was it?
I take medication to help and go to therapy which is helpful. I’ve also found that a regime of exercise and diet help and recently have taken up mediation and went to my first HOT yoga experience. All these things combined seem to keep me stable.
Has your mental health improved since?
Yes, very much so! I am a completely different person than I was then. I’m even a completely different person than I was even a year ago.
What do you do personally, to help your own mental health?
I write, a lot, and advocate. I make it a mission to keep my brother alive through words. I love people. And as I said before, exercise, diet, mediation but really self-care. I make myself a priority and by doing that I am taken care of so my family and loved ones are better taken care of too.
Do you feel there is enough support out there, for parents with a mental health condition?
Not at all. Especially postpartum. I recently started a doula course in hopes that I can help educate mothers on postnatal depression and even depression during pregnancy. I think we often assume that pregnancy and new babies are only happy, and we fail to talk about the dark side. And it happens, more then we know because women and men keep it so quiet. I want to help them find their voice and maybe, be their voice. There shouldn’t be any shame in any kind of feelings but especially depression.
What advice would you give to parents suffering from a postnatal mental health condition?
Listen to yourself. Ask for help, prepare for it before baby. You may never have to fight through it but if you do, you’ll be a little more prepared. And preparation is key. Knowing it could happen is important. I also think if you have a past history, it’s so important to share that with your medical provider. There are ways to treat depression without medication and medications that are safe for you and baby during pregnancy. Do the research and ask your friends. I think if we asked more, shared more, we’d all be for it.
Thank you so much Gail for taking part in my series. If you want to follow Gails journey, her details are below. Please show your support, like, comment, and share this post. Tomorrow’s interview is with Brona who is talking to me about her battle with Posntanal depression. Blog goes live at 9am!
Much Love 💕