It's been a few weeks since your baby was born but the 'baby blues' don't seem to have left you. You're crying a lot, you can't sleep even though you're exhausted. You feel that you don't even want to be in the same room as your baby – but at the same time, you're terrified something might happen to it.
If this is you, have you considered the possibility of post-natal depression (PND)?
Lucy Jolin is a mother of one (soon to be two) and the author of Coping with Birth Trauma and Post-Natal Depression. This is her advice for you if you've recently had a baby and suspect that you might have PND.
It's estimated that one in ten women suffer from PND in the UK. If you're one of them, please don't suffer in silence, as so many of us do. There's still, sadly, a stigma attached to mental illness, and us women are particularly bad at admitting there's something not quite right. Convincing yourself that you're 'coping' or that you're making a fuss about nothing sometimes seems easier than facing up to the fact that motherhood isn't the joy you imagined it would be.
But the good news is that you don't have to feel like this.
Start by admitting you have a problem. It's hard but it's worth it. Talk to your partner and if necessary get him to accompany you to your GP, or your health visitor, or any other health professional you feel you can talk to.
Be honest about your feelings – one way of doing this if you're nervous is to write down everything you'd like to say before you go in, and then hand the document to your doctor.
Explore all the treatment options. You may be offered drug treatment, or counselling, or a combination of both. Whatever you decide, make sure that option is right for you and your lifestyle.
There's also some practical steps you can take to help your recovery:
Try and get out of the house whenever you can, even if it's just a quick walk to the shops and back.
Ask your partner to look after the baby for a few hours while you take some 'me-time' – go for a swim, or just a quiet coffee in your local café by yourself or with a friend.
Don't forget – you will get through this. PND is curable, and although it can be a long road to recovery, it's so much easier with the support of medical professionals and your family.
Coping With Birth-Trauma and Post Natal Depression by Lucy Jolin is available here from Amazon