PARENTS

Five Times Women Got Real About Postnatal Depression

Lifting the taboo on maternal mental health

13/12/2016 15:06 | Updated 20 December 2016

About 10 to 15 per cent of new mothers suffer from postnatal depression (PND) but it is still to an extent treated like a closely guarded secret – spoken about in hushed tones, or not at all, shrouded in mystery and filed under ‘women’s troubles’ alongside miscarriage and menstruation.

But each time a woman in the public eye speaks about the condition to raise awareness and reassure fellow sufferers, it feels as though the taboo is lifted a little further.

From Adele, who opened the floodgates last month when she spoke about her experiences with PND to Vanity Fair to the MP who shared her story in the House of Commons, these women have a unanimous message: postnatal depression is nothing to be ashamed of and with the right help it can be beaten! 

  • Adele
    Dan MacMedan via Getty Images
    Adele is the latest celebrity to open up about her struggle with postnatal depression, following the birth of her son. Speaking candidly in an interview with Vanity Fair last month [October 2016], she said:

    "My knowledge of postpartum-or post-natal, as we call it in England-is that you don't want to be with your child; you're worried you might hurt your child; you're worried you weren't doing a good job. But I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate; I felt like I'd made the worst decision of my life . . . It can come in many different forms. 

    "Eventually I just said, I'm going to give myself an afternoon a week, just to do whatever the f*** I want without my baby. A friend of mine said, 'Really? Don't you feel bad?' I said, 'I do, but not as bad as I'd feel if I didn't do it'."
  • Hayden Panettiere
    Venturelli via Getty Images
    Nashville star and mum of one Hayden Panettiere, checked into rehab for postnatal depression treatment ten months after the birth of her daughter Kaya with heavyweight world boxing champion Wladimir Klitschko. 

    During an appearance on US talk show Live! With Kelly and Michael, she said:

    “When [you are told] about postpartum depression, you think it's 'I feel negative feelings towards my child, I want to injure or harm my child' – I've never, ever had those feelings. Some women do. But you don't realise how broad of a spectrum you can really experience that on. It's something that needs to be talked about. Women need to know that they're not alone, and that it does heal."

    "There's a lot of misunderstanding – there's a lot of people out there that think that it's not real, that it's not true, that it's something that's made up in their minds, that 'Oh, it's hormones'. They brush it off. It's something that's completely uncontrollable. It's really painful and it's really scary and women needs a lot of support."

    "Women are amazing. We do something that no man can do on this planet. I mean, we grow a human being in our body!"
  • Dr Sarah Wollaston
    Peter Byrne/PA Wire
    GP turned Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston spoke out about her experience with postnatal depression during a debate on mental health in the House of Commons. In an interview with Mojo Mums, a not-for-profit organisation that helps mums back into work, she said:

    “My experience of post-natal depression was dreadful at the time. Although I would not wish to experience it again, I do not regret having been there, it made it easier for me to recognise it in others and to understand how they were feeling. As I said in the House of Commons, I genuinely felt that my family would be better off without me. PND, or any sort of depression, can strip people of their sense of self and leave them feeling worthless and powerless.

    “I went to see my GP, who set me on the path to recovery, as facing up to the reality of my condition made me realise that I had a problem and that it was OK to ask for help.”
  • Natasha Hamilton
    Barcroft Media via Getty Images
    Atomic Kitten star Natasha Hamilton battled both prenatal and postnatal depression with her fourth child, daughter Ella, now 2. The star suffered two panic attacks before discovering she was pregnant, which transpired to be symptoms of prenatal depression.

    Speaking out for Sport Relief’s #MumTalk campaign, she said: “This anxiety carried on, and after a couple of weeks I started to recognise the feelings from when I had postnatal depression with Josh, who’s now 13. It was extremely difficult. I found myself starting to become isolated, which is exactly what you shouldn’t do. The constant worry was exhausting. I remember one day being in the shower just crying my eyes out. I’d been in bed all night worry and I was exhausted.” 

    Counselling helped Natasha get back on track but about three months after Ella was born, the PND returned.

    “I’d start to get the churning, foreboding feeling in my stomach. And over about four weeks it got more intense. It was so strange because I’d had these months of bliss after Ella was born, so when the euphoric feeling dwindled it was horrible. But postnatal and prenatal depression don’t discriminate and they can arrive when you don’t expect it. I went back to counselling, which was a huge help.” 

    Part of Natasha’s treatment was cognitive behavioural therapy. “It completely revolutionised my life,” she says.
  • Olivia Siegl
    Olivia Siegl
    Olivia Siegl started her blog The Baby Bible after being diagnosed with postnatal depression. Writing about her struggles has not only helped as a personal release, it has opened up a conversation to raise awareness of PND and help fellow sufferers to realise, firstly, that they are not alone and secondly, that there is support available to help them beat the condition.

    After posting her first blog about the condition (Post-Natal Depression Is a Mother F*****! A Warning to PND From a Mum Who Will Not Be Beaten) on HuffPost UK, Olivia was inundated with messages of appreciation from fellow sufferers and has been blogging and fundraising to raise awareness of the condition ever since.

    The mother of two girls, Eva and Isla-Mai, Olivia has been through both PND and postnatal psychosis.

    “During the first episode [of postnatal psychosis], I saw demons flying round the house and heard voices saying they were going to harm my baby,” she tells HuffPost Parents.

    “For two years, I had this dark stranger in the house with me. I’d walk into the house and he’d be on the sofa watching me. I’d be changing Ava and could see him at the door peering in.”

    We asked Olivia, who recently signed a book deal with Harper Collins, what she would say to other mums struggling with PND.

    “I would have loved someone to have said to me, it’s not your fault, you haven’t brought this on yourself, you’re not the only one going through it and there is amazing help out there and you can beat it with the right support and the right help.”

    She adds: “The illness can rob you of the belief that you’re a good mum and that you deserve to enjoy motherhood. But every mum deserves to enjoy motherhood.”
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