While the entire world seems to be swept up in red roses, dinner dates and a bubble of love, there are many women struggling with strained relationships as they deal with perinatal anxiety and depression – and it’s really important to remember that you’re not alone.
Victorian mum Renee Knight has opened up about how isolating it can be when milestone dates role around, and you’re feeling anything but celebratory.
Dealing With ‘Happy’ Days When You’re Struggling
Renee says after she gave birth to her son Hamish last year, she spent her first Mother’s Day and her birthday in a mother baby unit.
“I was suffering severe perinatal anxiety and depression. At the time I was living in such a fog and still recovering from my illness, so despite my family and friends trying hard to help me celebrate the occasions, I just wanted to lay low and get through the day. My husband, Sam, really understood how I felt and he was able to support me through the days, ensuring I could keep focusing on my recovery rather than thinking about how I was meant to be feeling.
“It also ensured I could spend the days interacting closely with my son. These were special moments, especially as my son rolled over for the first time on my birthday! I still remember this as one of the best days of my life, what an amazing birthday present.”
Renee explains that she and her husband tackled her perinatal anxiety and depression as a team, making her feel less isolated.
“We both recognised I was ill and needed help quickly. He was incredibly supportive of me going to hospital with our son into the mother baby unit. My husband has been there with me every step of the way from diagnosis to recovery and beyond.”
Who Else Can You Lean On?
Not everyone has the support of a partner, which can be even more jarring on Valentine’s Day – but there is help available.
“If left untreated, perinatal anxiety and depression can have devastating effects on women, men and families, not just risking relationships but also lives,” said Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) CEO Terri Smith.
“That’s why we need to raise awareness in the community about the signs and symptoms of the illness so people can know what is happening to them, know that they are not alone, and can seek help as early as possible.”
Signs and symptoms of perinatal anxiety and depression include:
- Panic attacks
- Persistent, generalised worry
- Sleep problems unrelated to the baby’s needs
- Loss of confidence and self-esteem
- Constant sadness or crying
- Withdrawal from friends and family
PANDA runs a specialist National Helpline for women, men and families who are experiencing perinatal anxiety and depression, and can be contacted on 1300 726 306, Monday to Friday from 10am – 5pm AEDT.
If you’d like more of an insight into the service, read our article on what happen’s when you call a postnatal depression helpline.