Michelle’s story (Bridgend)
After the birth of my child I went into a downward spiral of thinking I couldn’t cope with having a baby. I was so distressed I was unable to sleep and even had to force myself to eat. I’d just had a son and desperately wanted to be happy, but I struggled through the days and felt constantly tired.
My life became a blur, and after a few weeks I was diagnosed with severe postnatal depression. I was also advised I should be placed inside a secure unit, but as there was no mother and baby unit available, my husband, Mark, talked me out of going.
He hid his depression
I’m sure if we had been given better information about how serious my condition was, the outcome would have been different. Instead I was prescribed medication, started cognitive behavioural therapy and returned home.
Over time, my life started to improve, but I could tell Mark was also suffering. He had thought I was going to die during childbirth and went through hell as he tried to hide his depression for six years.
It was only after he had a breakdown in 2011 that he asked for help.
Better education needed
I was fortunate my community psychiatric nurse realised I was losing control, but others might not be so lucky. In the future, I would like to see more mother and baby units open around the country and for there to be better training for maternal mental health professionals.
Since recovering, Mark has set up his own charity that helps other fathers who have suffered. But we still need to raise more awareness and make sure that people have access to specialist support near them.