Speak Up – Kathleen’s Story – Mental Health Awareness
Hi all, and welcome back to my blog. Today is day 23 of my mental health awareness month. If you missed yesterdays interview with Misa get that here. Today I am joined by Kathleen, from lifebykathleen, who is talking to me about her battle with postnatal depression, and anxiety. Please show your support, like, leave a comment, and share this post.
Hi Kathleen, thank you so much for taking part in my series, please tell me a bit about yourself?
My name is Kathleen, I’m 30 years old, I live in Melbourne Australia, I have been with my husband for 12 years but married for four years, due to unexplained infertility we needed IVF, our daughter was our only embryo to survive the IVF process and she arrived on our third wedding anniversary.
What type of postnatal mental health condition did you, or do you have?
perinatal anxiety, postnatal depression and postnatal anxiety.
When did you first realise that you had a mental health condition, what were your first symptoms?
You hear about people falling instantly in love with their child and feeling this special connection. I didn’t feel that. I spent perhaps an hour with my daughter before I was whisked off to surgery, to be reunited with her 5 hours later. I felt something wasn’t right when I realised that my daughter was 5 days old yet I had not kissed her once. This got me so worked up that I was afraid to kiss her.
How did this affect your parenting?
I’m not sure it affected my parenting. My daughter was still fed, bathed & slept. I think more than anything it affected my marriage. My husband couldn’t see things from my point of view and I couldn’t see things from his point of view. My husband also lacked confidence after seeing me ‘effortlessly’ tend to our daughter.
What was your biggest worry about having a mental health condition?
At this stage I have decided not to have any more children, because I don’t think I am strong enough to go through that again.
I know that I may not suffer PND the next time but I never want to feel those feelings again.
That must have been a really difficult decision for you to make.
Did you receive any help? If so, what was it?
During my 6 week check up with my GP, I mentioned that I would like to speak to someone about how I’m feeling. As it was so close to Christmas I was unable to get an appointment until the the new year. I had approximately seven sessions with a psychologist in 2017. I booked my last session after being prompted by friends. A friend of mine was due with her baby and asked if anyone experienced PND as she has a history of depression. I was so relieved to find that some of my friends had also experienced this and they urged my to see my doctor again after a terrible week.
It’s really good when you find you have a great support system, and other people to share your worries and concerns with.
Has your mental health improved since?
Dramatically. I feel everything got a lot better around the time of my daughters first birthday. At this age, while still being breastfed, she was much less reliant on me. I think my husband’s self confidence also helped.
What do you do personally, to help your own mental health?
I think part of my struggle is the fact that I am an introvert, and I really like my ‘me time’. So it was very difficult to get that when someone else relied on me so heavily for everything. When I was able to, I had regular baths. I still do this now when I need to unwind. My doctor suggested the app Smiling Mind, which is a mindfulness/meditation app that I really love.
When my anxiety is getting the better of me I think of ‘the five things’. This helps redirect my thoughts by thinking of five things I can see, five things I can hear, five things I can touch.
Do you feel there is enough support out there, for parents with a mental health condition?
I am lucky that the healthcare system in Australia is easily accessible and affordable. Most of the support came from my mum. She was always willing to come over to help me with housework or grocery shopping or watch my daughter while I went to my appointments or had a bath.
What advice would you give to parents suffering from a postnatal mental health condition?
Speak up. Whether it’s to your partner, family, friends or a doctor. You need to be the best you can be for your child.
Thank you so much for taking the time to complete these questions, and helping me spread awareness. If you would like to follow Kathleen’s jourey her details are below. Tomorrow I am joined by Rachel, who is talking to me about her postnatal anxiety. Post goes live at 9am!
Much love 💕
Blog – www.lifebykathleen.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/lifebykathleen