Hannah’s story (Bristol)
After the birth of my son I developed mild postnatal depression [PND] and moderate anxiety. I suffered panic attacks and was fearful of being judged as a ‘bad mother’, as being incapable of looking after my child in the ‘right’ way.
Despite regular visits to my GP, it was two years before I was diagnosed correctly. In that time, my condition led to relationship breakdowns between friends and family – all of whom could have provided endless support had I known what I was suffering with. I even started to regret my decision to have a baby.
The constant doubts I was having made me believe I couldn’t care for my son and I felt very isolated and helpless.
My GP failed me
I didn’t know who to turn to after my GP failed to offer me the support I needed. Thankfully, I discovered a local charity that specialises in helping new mums and families affected by PND. It was only after contacting them that I gradually started to improve.
Looking back, my GP or health visitor should have spotted the warning signs far sooner. I remember being reassured that my behaviour was ‘normal’ and that I was ‘fine’, but it clearly wasn’t.
Surrounded by a stigma
The memories I have of my first year as a mother are a blur and no one should have to experience that. With better training for health professionals and more awareness, people suffering from PND will be diagnosed earlier.
I think mental healthcare is still widely neglected and is surrounded by a stigma. More investment is needed for better education and local specialists who can help people affected much sooner.