Share Your Story
At From the Heart WA, we believe that sharing your story is an important part of recovery from post and antenatal depression. It also helps women and their families who are currently experiencing these conditions to feel that they are not alone in their journey.
If you would like to share your story, please use the online form, email or postal address. If you would like to speak with a From the Heart WA representative about sharing your story, please feel free to call us.
Please click here to read other women’s stories of experiencing and overcoming perinatal depression.
Mother of three, 23 when first child born.
Discovering we were expecting a baby was thrilling for us. We had our son who was 14 months. Our plans were to have two close together and call it quits.
At about six weeks I was so sick, not eating and spent my day with an ice-cream container in one hand and our son in the other.
At seven weeks we drove down to Perth from the country, a two hour drive, to have a scan only to find out the reason I was so sick was twins! My husband and I went into instant shock.
We needed a bigger house, car and my thoughts were ‘how the hell was I going to love and cope with two babies and our son who was still a baby himself?’ Our families were over the moon for us but secretly inside my world was falling apart. I spent a week at our local hospital and at 12 weeks travelled to Perth by ambulance for another week. By 14 weeks everything had settled down.
My son and I moved to Perth at 33 weeks to await the birth and my husband came down on weekends and after work.
“I learnt a lot of myself and how much I really loved my little, beautiful, special boys.”
At 37 weeks I was induced and after a few complications, I gave birth naturally to two beautiful boys. Being in hospital was great as there was so much help and support. St John Of God (SJOG) Subiaco was wonderful.
When we all arrived home after such a long wait in Perth it was fantastic. Life was not fantastic for long. My husband went back to 14 hour days at work and had no idea I was falling into this huge black hole.
There was not a lot of counselling in a small country town and confidentiality was a big worry for me.
My in-laws paid for a cleaning lady to come three hours a day for three days a week. However, I was so organised that there was nothing for her to do.
I had stop breastfeeding at seven weeks. One of the twins had bad reflux and would just scream. When I left the house, it was a freedom I had missed.
This was not how I pictured motherhood. I had terrible thoughts of myself and just wanting to end it all. I could not see how it was going to get any better. I felt like I had no control over the thoughts and feelings I had at the time.
My husband had no idea how terrible things had gotten, as this was my job and why wouldn’t I love and enjoy it? I felt very lonely and isolated.
I rang my doctors rooms and spoke to my midwife who suggested I be in Perth the next day to get some help.
I dropped my son off with my parents and said goodbye like it was the last time I would see him. I told him he was a very special little boy and that I loved him. I drove away with the twins.
I was admitted and assessed at SJOG Subiaco and the next morning given directions to get to Graylands Culity Unit, a three bed mother and baby mental health ward.
I will never, ever forget the feeling of driving so slowly into the grounds of Graylands.
When I arrived they questioned if there was anyone with me. “No” I said “it’s just me and the boys.”
At this point I was really scared and felt very alone.
After leaving Culity and on strong antidepressants I learnt a lot about myself and how much I really loved my little, beautiful, special boys.
The thought of leaving them behind without a mother made me cry.
Two and a half years on, life has got easier. PND is so very different for everyone and getting help no matter how – is important.
Take lots of care and look after you!
20 when first child born.
My story with PND began in 1971. My pregnancy was normal, slight morning sickness, normal delivery and a 9lb baby boy.
After I left hospital I became nervous, tearful and frightened when on my own. He was a fretful baby with colic and cried a lot. I was only 20 and didn’t tell anyone how I felt. I didn’t want to
have visitors, as I was afraid they would wake him up.
I felt I was in a horrible bad dream. Gradually by the time the baby was about 12 months old I was feeling better, but it was not a good 12 months.
With my second pregnancy in 1975 everything was fine, then after leaving hospital it began again; the same symptoms. My husband was working from early in the morning till 7 or 8 at night and so I spent my days at my mother’s trying to hide my problem.
As my GP only prescribed valium, I spent my time in a drowsy miserable haze waiting for my husband to come home, hoping not to shake my baby when she cried.
“I became nervous, tearful and frightened when on my own.”
Once again I improved slowly. I did a lot of walking when I could.
In 1979 I became pregnant again. My doctor decided to put me on medication straight after the baby was born, thus catching the PND early (he hoped).
My problems weren’t as bad this time.
My husband was home with us, as we had just sold a small business. I still had symptoms, but was not alone and was able, with his help,
to get well quicker.
I loved my babies very much, but felt I missed out on a lot of good times with them when they were tiny.
Fortunately, my daughter has had no problems with PND after my 2 grandchildren were born.
No type of counselling was offered back 35 years ago, I often feel guilty and a bit of a failure when the babies were small, but I think I have made up for those horrible times with lots of love since then.
1st Child at 33.
I am 38 years old, married with two children and I am a PND survivor.
My husband, Karl, and I own a successful computer business, I work two or three days a week, and I am mummy to Elise (5½ years old) and Samuel (18 months). I feel very lucky to have such a privileged and successful life, however life has not always been this happy for me.
I have spent the last five and half years, on and off antidepressants, on and off talking with counsellors and going on and off the rails.
However, in hindsight, my journey through PND has made me the person I am today – which is a more empathetic person, a better wife, a loving mummy and more understanding friend.
I feel depression will always be with me, but it is how I manage and understand it that makes me a happy and healthy woman. To look back over the past five or so years is very difficult and confronting, however it does show me how far I have come and how much this experience of PND has helped me to grow.
Depression had not been a part of my life prior to the birth of my first child at 33 years of age, a beautiful little girl Elise (although she was not so little, weighing in at 9lbs 1oz!). PND did not creep up on me slowly but hit me like a speeding freight train. I felt terrified of coming home from hospital after a difficult birth and was not sure if I could cope at home on my own.
I cried all the way home from hospital and every night when my husband arrived home from work he would find me upset and withdrawn. He wasn’t sure who to attend to first – the crying baby or the crying mummy. He knew something was not right. I also knew something was wrong. I felt so overwhelmed, vulnerable and anxious and I didn’t really understand how out of control I had become.
”I feel depression will always be with me, but it is how I manage and understand it that makes me a happy and healthy woman.” When Elise was nine weeks old, my husband had arranged a day stay at Ngala (Ngala is an Early Parenting Centre, based in Perth, supporting and guiding families and young children through the journey of early parenting.) we both spoke with a counsellor and had our first discussion about Post Natal Depression.
From that point on, my plan began. With the help of my very supportive husband we both embarked on the difficult journey to my wellness.
Having the support of family members and friends when you have a baby is so important. However, just prior to having Elise we had moved from the UK to Australia, so my support network was virtually nonexistent. We struggled through together and slowly but surely little parts of the “old me” started to return.
I now fully understand the importance of having loving family and friends to support you. From having someone to talk to when you’re feeling low, someone to cook a meal or hang out a load of washing or look after the baby to give you a chance to have a rest. I am very pleased and proud to say three years after my initial diagnosis of PND, I felt mentally and physically ready to consider the possibility of having another baby. Just before my 37th birthday our gorgeous baby boy – Samuel arrived.
Although I wondered if PND would rear its ugly head this time, I was more prepared and aware of my stress levels. I knew what I needed to do to feel good. Of course, we still had all the sleepless nights and Sam was diagnosis with silent reflux which was very difficult, but we were all doing ok.
The second time around I realised I needed to ask for help. Family arrived from the UK to help out with the first seven weeks of Sam’s life. I was also lucky to have met a fantastic group of friends; they all understood my concerns about the return of PND and were only too happy to lend a hand or just be there to talk.
Elise is about to start full time school and Sam will be two years old in a few months. We are all doing great! I feel so fortunate that I have a wonderful husband, two beautiful children, supportive family and friends and most importantly I feel happy, confident and very positive about the future.
PND is an illness which can be successfully treated. Please remember it is so important for you to seek help…the sooner the better.
3 Children (10months, 13yrs and 15yrs) 20yrs old when first child born. My light was still on; I just didn’t see it through all the darkness!
The thought of having another baby wasn’t on the cards. My husband and I weren’t fussed either way. When I did find out, my husband had just flown in from 12 hours night shift. The first thing I said to him was “I think you better take me to a chemist!”
Well it started there and was an uncontrolled rollercoaster ride to hell and back for me. The morning sickness, stretch-marks, heartburn and also gestational diabetes. Even with the due date of the birth in sight; it was time to think of how I was going to cope with two teenage kids and a new baby!
Well things didn’t run smoothly, I was in a lot of pain from the birth and being allergic to some medicines I felt sick all the time and very tired too. Everything was ok, till I got home (no tea trolley for hot choc!). My new baby never stopped crying and screaming, I felt sad and guilty all the time. I never got a break. I found out later that my baby had a Poliss Muscle in his tummy that didn’t work. I knew when he came home something wasn’t right. It didn’t stop there; we tried everything and didn’t have any luck.
I felt like I was so alone, screaming at the top of my lungs and no one was listening. I knew then I was sick. Weeks went on and I was getting worse, crying, screaming, angry and happy all at once. This caused distance with my family. Although they didn’t know what was happening, the strength in their words helped me sometimes.
I ignored help that was offered and little did I know I made things worse for me. I felt like no one understood. I shut down altogether. It was about three months after the birth, I was trying to get the baby to sleep for the millionth time, I became very angry. I remember sitting on the stairs, crying and saying “I can’t do it anymore”. I just wanted the pain in my head to stop.
My kids called my parents and they came and helped for three days. They took me to the doctor who told me that I had PND and Postnatal Anxiety. I was offered antidepressants but said no, wanting to try herbal first. I tried natural serotonin, but it didn’t go well.
At this point I needed someone to talk to, so I took myself to a counsellor. I cried lots and he didn’t pass judgment. Then one day when I was just putting rubbish in the bin I sat down and started crying again. Then I knew I needed more help! Back to the doctor and started with antidepressants.
When I felt stronger I attended self help, parenting and relationship courses. It was hard to admit I had PND and Perinatal Anxiety.
So from that short tale, I found the real me and my light was still on, I just didn’t see it through all the darkness!
In the future I have a lot of work ahead, but it will be ok. Trust the people you are close to.
My strength and love came from my family and friends. A big thanks to them for being on the rollercoaster with me. Never be afraid to ask for help. - Remember to take care of yourself.
I was going through a rough time when I found out I was pregnant. I had just gotten back together with my boyfriend and was definitely not expecting to become a mother so soon.
I had been in a dark place for months leading up to my pregnancy. I had lost most of my friends and the ones that remained were rarely seen because they feared what my mood would be. I thought about ending it all when my boyfriend had left. I felt alone and worst of all I felt like no one cared anymore – I had become a high maintenance friend.
So the news of a baby left me feeling a little more melancholy. Who was I to bring up a child? I couldn’t even look after myself.
So I smiled and pretended to be happy with the news.
My boyfriend and I got back together and as the months passed our relationship grew stronger. I saw a side to him that I had never seen before. He was doting on me all the time and when I saw the look in his eyes when he touched my baby belly, I melted. I began to realise I needed to grow up and face the ‘demons’ in my mind. I spoke often with my boyfriend about everything that troubled me, he was my sponge; absorbing all my tears. I also spoke with the pastor of a church a few times; it seemed easier to talk about some of the things with a stranger.
As my belly grew, so did my mind. I felt like I was finally giving my mind the spring clean it deserved. But then I reached the seven month mark. I was fat, pimply and ached all over.
My ankles swelled hideously and I had piercing pains in my legs. If that wasn’t bad enough; my ‘friends’ started telling me the horror stories of their births. I was terrified. I didn’t want to give birth. I knew I had to eventually, but I didn’t want to. What if this happened? What if that happened? What if?… I was so scared. So I dealt with it the only way I knew how to - sleep!
“Who was I to bring up a child? I couldn’t even look after myself”
I slept through most of my pregnancy and when I wasn’t sleeping I watched shows about difficult births and malformed babies, I thought if I knew how bad the worst of the worst labours could be, then mine surely couldn’t be as bad as they were, and if it was, then at least I knew how to react. That was probably the worst thing I could have done, I started having nightmares about my baby. Whenever anyone mentioned my pregnancy I would have an anxiety attack. I was even hospitalised once because the anxiety attack was so bad that I couldn’t breathe and they had to put me on oxygen.
The due date arrived and passed, my baby obviously had the same fears of birth as me because 11 days after his due date, I was induced. He didn’t want to come out. The birth was horrific! Even now I have flash backs that make me cringe and feel nauseous.
I lay there staring at my baby, hmm, now what? I had no idea what to do. I had not read any books or asked any questions about caring for a baby. I assumed I would just know. I started getting down on myself, why didn’t I know what to do? Where was the motherly instinct?
I quickly learnt how to feed, change and clean my baby. So for the next few months that’s all I did, and of course slept! Luckily my baby was in tune with me and we slept most of the days. Everything became a blur, I didn’t know what day it was, I didn’t care. I had to look after my baby. I didn’t clean the house, I ate microwave meals and I chose to avoid people whenever possible. When my boyfriend was home I smiled and laughed and played ‘happy families’, but as soon as he was at work I would cry and lay on the couch staring at the telly or at my baby.
Things gradually got worse and I felt like I couldn’t cope anymore. Even the easiest of tasks was draining. I felt sad all the time. One day, while preparing dinner, I looked at the knife in my hand. I had images of what I could do to myself. As I directed the knife towards my self, I saw my reflection in the blade. I dropped the knife and started bawling, my boyfriend came running in asking what the matter was. I couldn’t stop crying, how could I have even thought those things, I knew it was wrong but the images were so strong in my mind. My boyfriend sat there holding me, he had no idea what had happened and I dared not tell him out of fear of being locked up in an asylum.
The next day my doctor put me in touch with a social worker who I attended regularly over the next six months. It was explained to me that I was suffering PND and a type of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) brought on by the horrific birth. I was also suffering anxiety. I was told that although I had the visions in my head, I was aware that they were wrong and that I didn’t have to follow them through. This ‘awareness’ is what saved my life.
I was put on medication and attended therapy regularly for a year. I eventually no longer needed the medication or therapy. I had learnt the warning signs for my anxiety and how to manage them. I also learnt about positive thinking.
Occasionally I get the odd vision of bad things (like car accidents or illness) happening to my loved ones or me, but I know now that it is my mind’s way of telling me to slow down and stress less. I have come to understand the power one’s mind can have over their lives and when mixed with outside influences it can become manic.
Five years on and I have since had another child and have not suffered any PND, Perinatal Anxiety* or PTSD*.
I am now looking at studying anthropology and would like to help others to become aware of their minds and how to overcome depression. I was unaware of my depression until it was almost too late.
My advice is that if you feel depressed or anxious or just not quite right; see your doctor. If you still don’t feel right after that, then see another health professional, like a counsellor. Don’t give up until you feel satisfied with your treatment.
You know yourself better than anyone else.
We need a new home
From the Heart WA is on the move!!!
Our not for profit organisation working in the health sector is about to lose it's home in Subiaco as space is to be absorbed for leasor's business. Our current arrangement has been free of rental and overheads, although we are responsible for insurance and are looking for a similar situation.
The organisation has all infrastructure required and 3 part-time employees. We desperately seek an office space of approximately 50sqm and storage for resources in a central Perth location, for up to 3 years.
If you have office space available please contact Tracey Parker on Mob: 0427 615 858 to discuss further.