Over 100,000 Australians go through Perinatal Depression and Anxiety every year. Healthy Mummy Community member, Raisha, never thought she would be one of them when her first child came along.
Trigger warning:*Before you read this, please be aware that it is a true story, and so contains some events that might be distressing or triggering for some readers.*
The Healthy Mummy has once again joined up with the Gidget Foundation to help raise important awareness for Perinatal Depression and Anxiety and support the wonderful work they do.
Healthy Mummy Community member, Raisha, has been kind enough to allow us to share her story to help raise more understanding.
Raisha shares, “In the early stages of my pregnancy with my first son, my relationship came to an end. ‘I’m an intelligent, capable woman I thought to myself! ‘I can do this.’ Maybe there are even some positives – I can parent him how I want to, I can name him myself, I don’t have to ask or rely on anyone else’s input.
I loved being pregnant, and was healthy and happy throughout the pregnancy; spending lots of time looking forward to the birth of my son.”
I gave birth to my son naturally, with no complications, in just under 7 hours. He was totally and utterly perfect – and of course, as far as I was concerned, he was the most beautiful baby in the world.”
Raisha continues, “Soon after birth, we had a few issues with breastfeeding, as I experienced bleeding from both my nipples and ended up with black stripe across both of them. But, as my son grew, even that stopped being an issue, and we started breastfeeding successfully.
“What I wasn’t prepared for – and I now know that most parents cannot prepare for – was the sleep deprivation.”
Being on my own and not being able to get some respite at the end of the day had devastating effects on me. I didn’t want to reach out and ask for help because I thought this is just how it was – this is what it meant to be a single parent.
The loneliness of being stuck at home with a newborn also hit me very hard. For me, the difference between pregnancy and actually having the baby was huge. Everyone around me was supportive and excited during my pregnancy, but then when a tiny, noisy, pooing baby arrived, who didn’t sleep much..well it was a different matter. The same cooing, supportive friends just upped and disappeared, leaving me very much alone.”
“I would sit in the rocking chair when my son was asleep, put my head in my hands and cry. And I don’t mean elegant movie-style crying, with silent tears running down my face. This was heart-wrenching, guttural, soul-destroying crying. There were many times I just couldn’t stop.
I would take both my hands and smash them into my face, over and over again to try and stop myself crying. I even remember hitting my forehead into a brick wall to try to snap myself out of it.”
“I never showed this behaviour to anyone else of course. When family visited or nurses came, I put on a brave face & showed them how capable I was of taking care of my beautiful baby boy.
And that’s the thing; I could take care of him, I just couldn’t take care of me & there was no one else there to take care of me either. Despite having this beautiful little person with me every day, I had never felt so alone.”
“Why did I put on a brave face? I don’t think I knew back then that I could get help. It was nearly 13 years ago, and honestly, there was definitely more stigma around having PND.
I was lucky to find amazing help and support from fellow mums at my local mother’s groups, and I started to realise that other mums were having a tough time, too. That these were people I could speak to, and friends I could make who wouldn’t judge me because they were having their own unexpected roller coaster of motherhood experience.
It’s not the same today thank goodness. PND is so much better understood & there are so many amazing programs available to help nowadays.”
“It’s amazing the support that mums offer to each other during those first few months and years. And things have changed so much in the last 13 years – there is so much more professional help available for Mums now, as there should be.
I’ve also been lucky enough to be a member of The Healthy Mummy Community this time around. I now have a two-year-old and have been a Healthy Mummy since he was one. Fortunately, I didn’t get PND the second time around, but it did take years to recover after the birth of my first son.”
“If there’s one huge thing I would love to be able to say to any Mum who is struggling right now. For whom this article feels all too real, all too familiar. Ask for help. I often wonder how much sooner I would have recovered from my PND if I’d thought to reach out. There’s no shame in it – and it makes things seem so much better, so quickly.”
READ MORE: Also read Healthy Mummy Cassie’s story here –“This mum knows first-hand the importance of raising support for perinatal depression.”
Gidget Foundation Australia is a not-for-profit organisation supporting the emotional well-being of expectant and new parents to ensure that those in need receive timely, appropriate and supportive care.
With hundreds of thousands of mums from all over Australia, all with the same goals, concerns, and struggles, our community is there to support you through it all.