You may have seen the BBC article recently stating “more than a third of mothers have experienced mental health issues and 17% of fathers.”
I am one of those women. I have experienced post natal depression and post traumatic stress disorder following a traumatic birth. I did not get the right support I should have from my midwifery team during or after birth.
I am writing this article to share my experience of PTSD and explain how I got the help and support I should have received from them. People will say it is quick and easy to blame the NHS but in my case they were fully to blame and found to be negligent. I have shared my story through my personal blog, which you can read if you would like to know a bit more about my personal experience - The Worst And Happiest Day Of My Life.
PTSD affects approximately 20,000 women a year following a traumatic birth. Men are also affected by this experience. Sometimes I don’t think we realise just how much of an effect it has on men. I certainly didn’t realise how much it affected my husband until later on in my recovery. This is how I felt daily suffering with PTSD - My Miracle And My Nightmare.
For me the thought of getting help was terrifying. It took me six months to seek help and it was only because my husband said to me that he didn’t know how to help me and felt I should seek professional help. I put my trust in the NHS to look after me and my baby and they had failed me. Why would they now take care of me?
I didn’t understand how to help myself but with the help of my family I went into the private sector. I went privately partly because I’d lost all faith in the NHS but also because of the experience I had with the counsellor I had originally seen through the NHS.
It truly was the best thing I did. I fully appreciate that not everyone has the support to go private. It is about finding the right therapist for you. Someone who will listen to you and not treat you like a tick sheet process, as I first experienced. Find someone who treats you as an individual and not another person with PTSD.
I’m in a place now two years on where I can say I don’t hate the NHS, but I will never forgive the hospital where I gave birth. There are some great people raising awareness out there.
The main things I found supportive;
- Find what therapy suits you either CBT or EDMR. I found CBT helped me more. But I know people who say EDMR worked better for them.
- I feel we need to be asked about our mental health before we are discharged and given some information regarding the symptoms of PND and PTSD. A bit of information explaining how to seek help and from where.
- I think we need to be asked about our metal health at every midwifery appointment throughout our pregnancy. So it becomes the norm. Covering mental health at antenatal classes is key I think. Of course we don’t want to scare new parents but I feel being prepared is better than not being. I may not have felt the disappointment and guilt I do if I had been better prepared for my birth and knew some information regarding PMH.
- It would be great if there were more support groups out there. I appreciate there aren’t enough volunteers and people don’t always want to seek help face to face at first. There are some great charities and communities willing to help out there. I joined a Twitter chat every Wednesday via http://twitter.com/pndandme it’s full of men and women sharing their experiences of perinatal mental health. The same with http://twitter.com/mentalhealth_hr on a Sunday. This covers a wide range of mental illnesses.
- I found writing helped me. You don’t have to be a writer to jot down how you feel and get your thoughts onto paper and hopefully off your mind. I also found reading before bed helped. I’m not saying I always had the time, but when I did it helped me to switch off.
- Self-Care Advice And Tips: Dealing With A Mental Illness.
- One to one therapy is the best thing I did. It was very hard at first and took a while for me to even speak. I spent some sessions in silence and some just crying. Eventually I found the courage to open up and piece together my experience. I found the most difficult thing was not being able to remember what fully happened.
Her First Birthday And The Anniversary Of My Traumatic Experience is something for which to prepare yourself. It will be a difficult day. You want them to have a wonderful day as you feel you won’t get that time back, but it’s also a reminder of what happened to you so Be Kind To Yourself.
I am three years on in my recovery and still struggle some days. I find that I am agitated and feel guilt: We All Feel It At Some Point In Our Lives. Guilty for not being there for her in the first year.
The most important thing to remember is no mater how little, finding the time to just be you, some alone time. PTSD makes you confused and agitated. Your mind is constantly busy. Having time to just sit. Not having to focus on anything else, trying to deal with your thoughts and everything else at once.
I have added links throught this blog, they will give you more information on certain areas. I hope you find the help you need and remmeber you are a great parent. You just need some help to feel yourself again. There will be bad days, you are not a bad parent.