Real life story: postnatal depression and PTSD

Real life story: postnatal depression and PTSD

After having my first son, I suffered with Postnatal Depression and after my second son; I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

It was when my first son was about 6 to 8 weeks old that I started to feel extremely anxious and down, crying most of the time, not even knowing what I was crying for.

I felt like the world had ended. I was so worried that I wasn’t doing a good enough job; I wanted to do everything right for my baby because I loved him so much and because I was a paediatric nurse, so I should know what I’m doing.

I couldn’t understand why I was feeling like the world had ended, when I had finally got this so very much wanted baby and everything had gone so well.

I felt like I was a terrible mother because I was struggling to cope. I was so scarred to tell someone how I was feeling as they would see me as a failure.

However, I managed to build up the courage to tell my health visitor what was going on. She was fantastic! She totally understood and did not make me feel like I had failed.

My health visitor referred me to a group for mums with postnatal depression, ran by the health visiting team. This group was my lifeline! Knowing that there were other mums who were going through the same as me was a relief and provided a safe, understanding supportive environment to talk about what I was going through.

My pregnancy with my second son didn’t go quite as planned. My waters broke at 24 weeks, which meant me staying in hospital for 4 weeks in London away from my hubby and 4 year old.

My son was eventually born at 28 weeks. He was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and after a week I was discharged home and he was well enough to be moved to our local hospital.

A week later, he became gravely unwell and nearly died. The emergency treatment and surgery he needed was only available at a hospital in Brighton 65 miles away. This ended up being the case for 13 weeks, only able to spend time as a family at the weekends.

When my second son was a year old, I returned to paediatric nursing and 6 months in BAM! I fell apart and was diagnosed with PTSD. I started having flash backs of when my son was unwell and in hospital. I could hear the machines beeping in my head and the smell of hand gel and the hospital environment caused the flash backs. I was convinced he was going to die, even though he was doing fine and was a healthy baby now. This led me to undertake a ritual at bedtime for what I believed would keep him safe and alive.

Again, it took all my courage to tell someone what I was feeling. I was worried that they would think I was lying, making it up or being lazy and not take me seriously.

It took a breakdown at work for me to realise I needed to approach my GP. Once I opened up about how I was feeling, I found that people understood and weren’t surprised at how I was feeling after everything I had been through.

I received specialist Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for PTSD, through an IAPT service, which helped me manage my symptoms.

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