Antenatal and postnatal depression - Abby's story

Although I'd had depression in the past, I’d never, ever felt like this before.

I’d suffered from depression in the past on and off since I was 25 but at the point that Simon and I got pregnant I was fine. I was really excited about being pregnant and I felt so well I didn’t expect any problems at all. It wasn’t even on my mind. The baby was fine and there were no problems at all.

But then, when I got to seven months pregnant, I fell ill physically. I had a bad cough and a cold. It stopped me sleeping.

This really hit me so hard and I started to go downhill mentally.

"When I suffer with depression I try and block it out, I don’t want to face up to it because I know how bad it can get."

I tried to keep it a secret from Simon and everybody around me. I tried to deal with it myself but eventually it got to a point where there was no hiding it.

I was getting these really negative thoughts - horrible stuff.I felt like I didn’t love Simon anymore.  And I had intrusive thoughts going round in my head constantly. I started to feel like I didn’t want my baby anymore. It was horrible. I just didn’t feel like I wanted to be a mum anymore and I had an overwhelming worry about how I would cope with a baby.

All these negatives were going around in my head constantly. And I just got to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed. Even though I wasn’t sleeping I didn’t want to get up. I remember one day phoning my dad and I just said, ‘I can’t get up’.  This was the first occasion I was taken into hospital, to the antenatal ward.

I was seven and a half months pregnant.

It was the first of three trips to the antenatal ward. I was taken in later again because I’d had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to kill myself. It was just horrible, just absolutely horrible. I’d never, ever felt like that before. Simon phoned the doctor and I was taken into the antenatal ward. They were really good. Simon was able to stay there with me. We had a room on our own and I was in there for a few days.  When I came out we had a crisis team who would come out daily and check on me. 

So I was in and out of the maternity ward for the rest of the pregnancy and just not coping very well at all.

I was just existing. I wasn’t living, I wasn’t enjoying life, I wasn’t doing anything. I think they were getting a bit fed up with me in the antenatal ward. I felt like I was a massive burden. I’d actually self-harmed as well. It’s so strange now to think of it. I never thought that I would do something like that. 

The last time I was taken in was ten days before my due date and my waters broke. There was meconium in the waters so they brought me to have my labour induced.

Bethany was born and I was so happy. It was amazing and I just felt overwhelmed with emotion. I felt loads better very quickly and I thought, ‘This it, I’m going to get better now and I’m going to get on with being a new mum’.  For about two or three days the doctors came to see me because they’d known how poorly I was leading up the end of my pregnancy and I said, ‘Yes, I feel ok now’. 

I remember the day we came home, the day we brought her home and it was a really bright sunny day. But that was also the point when I started to feel poorly again.

It was only really a week after she’d been born and things just went right downhill again.

I remember one occasion, one morning, Simon got really angry with me because I just couldn’t get up. I couldn’t get out of bed again. I just couldn’t do it. I knew she needed me but I just really felt like I couldn’t do it.

I said to Simon: ‘I can’t do this, I can’t look after her.’ I didn’t care anymore. I just didn’t want to live any more really. It’s meant to be the most exciting time of your life having a baby and I didn’t feel it. It wasn’t even about bonding with her, I just didn’t want to exist anymore. Simon called the doctors and they came out to see us and gave me some really heavy medication that completely knocked me out.

The crisis team came out and they sort of said there was nothing they could do but Simon and his family knew I needed professional help. They fought for me to go somewhere to be looked after.

I needed to go somewhere to get better.

Eventually I was taken into a psychiatric ward of the mother and baby unit, which was really scary. I never thought in my life it would get to that point where I’d need somewhere like that.

I had always come out of depression before but the depression I was suffering on this occasion was so much deeper, like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I remember saying to a doctor in the hospital, ‘Am I going to get better?’  And the doctor kept saying to me, ‘Well people do’, but that was all he’d say to me at the time.

I did slowly get better in the mother and baby unit.

I got to do home visits and finally left and came home to normality. But it wasn’t like a quick change where one moment I was fine again. I would say to anybody suffering with depression just be mindful of the fact that one morning you wake up feeling ok and another morning you might not. It goes in peaks and troughs. The period that you feel ok gets longer and longer and those bad days get further and further apart and you start to feel much better.

We’re in a good place now doing our day to day thing. I look after Bethany and go to work one day a week. I go to groups and go out and see friends. I made one particular friend from the mother and baby unit who had similar symptoms. She helped me a lot and we have a really strong bond now. And I’ve got a lovely little girl who I love to bits!

"I would say to anybody that is suffering from it, just be hopeful and positive that you will come through it."

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