This is a powerful and moving story, written by my darling friend Kelly. We went to college together, and supported one another in the gruelling program that was Applied Communication at Camosun College, in Victoria, ten years ago.
Kelly has since married and has a two-year old son, Miles. This is Kelly’s story about living through postpartum depression, and like me, rising up to challenge the stigma’s of mental health issues that are so prevalent in our society.
While her experience has been fraught with difficulty and the ever-familiar sense of being alone and feeling isolated, she’s turned it around. Kelly is sharing her difficult story so that others may learn that they too, are not alone.
Since being posted yesterday, it has been seen by thousands of people, and has been shared several hundred times. Based on the comments being left by people reading it, Kelly is helping many strangers to not feel so alone. #notastranger
People of Victoria - Kelly
“Two years ago I had my son Miles, following a very normal pregnancy. Being pregnant was one of the happiest times of my life - I was actually euphoric! I struggled with breastfeeding and around three weeks the public health nurse convinced me to give him formula. He quickly thrived. We thought the worst of our troubles were over, except they weren’t.
If he started crying inside a store, I felt I couldn’t calm him. I developed anxiety about leaving the house, and began to be inside all day, watching a lot of Netflix or staring at the walls.
One night my husband came home and said, “Go and relax” and I remember sitting in the tub, twiddling my big toe on the edge of the tap thinking, “If I put him down for a nap at four o’clock and then went out to the shed and jimmied up a noose, my husband would get back in time to take care of our son. He wouldn’t be alone for too long.” I’d never had a thought like that before. I scored off the charts on the Edinburgh postpartum depression test with the public health nurse. She referred me to a counselor – who wouldn’t be able to see me for three weeks.
When I saw the counselor, she said I would benefit from medication, but I would need to see a doctor to get a referral to a psychiatrist, because she couldn’t write prescriptions. I didn’t have a GP - mine had retired - so my midwife sent it in. It would take about six weeks to see the specialist. Weeks passed and I never heard from them. The psychiatrist had not received the referral. I was barely hanging on at this point.
I was having so many panic attacks. I hated myself, I was a terrible mom. Then one night, around 4AM, my husband woke up to hear me sobbing uncontrollably over the baby monitor. I couldn’t wait another day, let alone those weeks. He dropped me off at the emergency room at the Jubilee.
I spent all day waiting at the hospital, and by an ironic twist of fate the psychiatrist was the one I was on the wait-list to see. She looked into my eyes, grabbed my hand and said, “We are going to make you better.” What followed was varying dosages, and prescriptions til we got it right. We found I had undiagnosed bipolar disorder which had been triggered by my pregnancy, causing the euphoria and then deep depression as the hormones fell away.
Looking back on it, I feel so sad about those months. I hope my son never remembers that time. It was so dark and traumatic. I began talking to my girlfriends about what had happened and found it liberating to open up. It had not been that idyllic experience, with soft focus and glowy mother and babe time that I had expected. Being honest about it has set me free and it has also made me more empathetic to the struggles of others.”