Dont let postnatal depression get you down

Jodie Clarke and Chereece Dixon from the Family Support Network (rear) with Jennifer Forbes and her son Caleb, 13 months, and Sonya Lane with her daughter Sky, 19 months. Both women have overcome postnatal depression and want other mothers to know help is out there.

Sonya Lanes husband knew something was wrong. His wife had changed ever since the birth of their daughter Sky. She was unhappy and didnt want to leave the house, so he gently suggested she should get some help.

My husband had an accident because he was just so tired, said Sonya. He was fine, but the thought that it could of been worse and that he could of died snapped me into action.

Sonya, like many new mums, was suffering from postnatal depression. But she didnt know it at the time.

You just think youre failing because everyone else can do it. I just kept thinking, Whats wrong with me? Im a bad mother, she said. I felt like I was the only person in the world this was happening to.

Sonya, who now lives in Coraki, joined a postnatal depression support group where she was living in Perth and soon found that she was not alone.

It was ridiculously common there were 18 women in this group from just one suburb of Perth, she said. And they were from all walks of life. Some were in tragic circumstances but others had no external factors.

Sonyas road to recovery continued when she moved to the Northern Rivers and joined Bonding with Baby, a postnatal depression support group run by the Family Support Network in Lismore. She said talking with other mums who felt just like she did dissolved her guilt and enabled her to begin healing and changing her thought patterns.

It was helpful on so many levels initially, just as an excuse to brush my hair and get out of the house, said Sonya. Suddenly I had people to share my experiences with and I was given tools to manage what I was going through. There is a lot of stigma surrounding postnatal depression and we have to change that mentality that it should be hidden.

Jennifer Forbes from Goonellabah is another young mum who suffered postnatal depression after the birth of her son Caleb, now 13 months. She too attended Bonding with Baby, describing the course as a life saver.

I was at my wits end the problems had been escalating and I felt like I was beyond repair. It was really scary, said Jennifer. Bonding with Baby was the best thing ever. I thought, thank God, now I know whats happening to me and I can start solving the issue.

Sonya said while modern women were forward thinking, the idea that you had to be a supermum something she believes is reinforced by advertising is deeply embedded in the female psyche.

I think its easy to feel like you have to have dinner on the table, the baby looking gorgeous and the house clean by the time hubby gets home, even though thats a 1950s concept, said Sonya. Its unrealistic but its still there in the back of your mind. We have to look at those attitudes and speak up as mothers so other women know that its okay to ask for help.

Bonding with Baby program co-ordinator Jodie Clarke says there are several different groups mums can join and information packs that partners, family or friends can access.

What were saying is dont be afraid to come forward, said Jodie. Postnatal depression is treatable and one in seven women experience it. We want mothers to know that its safe to walk through the door or call us and they wont be judged.

For more information or to access services, phone the Family Support Network on 6621 2489.

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