My second daughter was around six months old when I first admitted to myself that something was wrong. I had a wonderful life, an amazing husband, two beautiful daughters and all the family and friends I could need. But I felt completely disconnected from the world, exhausted and helpless.
Everyday felt like a real struggle, but I learned to put a brave face on for everyone. I was so ashamed that I kept these feelings to myself, until they all spilled out to my husband one afternoon. My breaking point was during a holiday with family and friends. If I couldn't be happy there, I didn't know how I could ever be.
I agreed to talk to my wonderful GP, who prescribed an antidepressant. And at my local SureStart centre in Bristol, I saw a leaflet for Bluebell Care Trust. After some hesitation, I contacted them and they organised for one of their Bluebell buddies to visit me at home. They recommended I join the next Mum's Comfort Zone, which is a weekly meeting that helps women with postnatal depression learn how to cope with their feelings. It also gives them an opportunity to do things for themselves, such as arts and exercise. Bluebell, which benefits from money raised by Sport Relief, offers a crèche for this course, which is an amazing resource to have. They keep your children close by and qualified staff take care of them whilst you have some well needed "me time".
Once the course had finished, I felt much more confident and able to cope with how I felt. I'd also made friends with other mums who I still see on a weekly basis. When I look back now at how I was, I don't remember it all but I know I felt like a failure as a mother most days. I attended to my daughters' basic needs, but I didn't feel able to play, interact or teach. I couldn't bond with them. I felt trapped in my own life.
Now, things are so much better. I'm so happy when I'm with my girls, who are three and two, and they make me laugh every day. I love taking them to different activities and miss them when I'm away from them. Even on those days when it's hard work parenting them, I still feel like I can cope. I'm so much more confident as a parent. I feel like I'm more myself again, seeing friends and socialising, taking time out for myself when I need it and being able to work.
I'm so grateful for all the support I've received from everyone involved in my care, and for helping me to feel like me again. I feel I need to share my story now to try and remove the shame that mums feel when trying to deal with postnatal depression. I didn't talk to anyone about it except close family and friends. Now I can look back and talk about my experience openly and I have found that many people in the same situation I was in did the exact same thing.
Postnatal depression is something most mums hide and this needs to change because without the help I received from the NHS and Bluebell Care Trust, things would be very different right now.
Today Sport Relief is sharing stories of men and women affected by maternal mental health problems in the UK, join the conversation @sportrelief with #MumTalk
Sport Relief is back from 18th-20th March. Find out how you can help raise life-changing cash at sportrelief.com