My post-natal mental health needed specific help and medication but it took me 18 months before I acknowledged I needed professional help. During that time I closed my business in Canada we moved from Vancouver to the UK with a 2 year old and a 6 month old and I became a full-time stay at home Mum living in a county where I knew no-one. This was a recipe for disaster and my mental health got very bad. My isolation was such a big problem. I didn’t have friends or family nearby who could help so I got into the habit of handling everything myself which was making my worn-out brain even more tired.
I found it hard to talk to family at first because I didn’t want to worry them and didn’t think they’d know what to do. I hid behind the idea that I didn’t want to bother anyone and that everyone with small children struggles but truthfully I knew that I was experiencing thoughts that were dangerous. Some friends and family were surprised that I was struggling because I have always been able to take on big projects but parenthood isn’t comparable to anything else. Talking to people who have a lot of experience of what you’re going through but aren’t as close as family and friends gives you a space to talk that is free from assumptions and judgements. That degree of separation was essential for me to get practical help. Over about 10 months I stopped drowning in PND. It was still there but it wasn’t dictating my life.
Here are some resources that I used to support my mental health. Getting to a place where you can reach out for help isn’t easy but if you can keep trying then the right help can be life-changing and life-saving.
Home-Start has branches throughout the UK. The network of local community volunteers are trained to support families with young children. I used this charity to be company for me, to listen and to watch the kids while I had a hot drink and took some deep breaths.
PaNDAS has a free helpline for Mums and partners living with Postnatal Depression. They also organise small support groups for new Mums to get help and understanding.
NCT offers services beyond birth that include Mum’s mental health. Post baby is not an ideal time to research support services so let NCT guide you to the right help.