Post Natal Anxiety & Depression with Siobhan Rennie Blossom & Glow is very proud to be supporting PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia), and as well as making a donation from each sale to this amazing organisation, we are committed to starting conversations to support the many sufferers of this awful illness. You can find out more about PANDA and the amazing work they do here.
We were absolutely thrilled when the amazing Siobhan Rennie joined us recently to discuss her experience with PNDA.
1. Who calls you mum? Harry, 2 (well, 28 months, but I feel like after 2 you don't say their months out loud as you don't want to be 'that' person haha)
Aoife, 11 months (sniff sniff, where has my baby gone). 2. How would you describe your life as a mum in one sentence?!
Crazy, hectic, amazing, fulfilling, madness and mind blowing - completely life changing! 3. When did you first start noticing signs of postnatal depression? I really struggled after Aoife was born as Harry was only 17 months and she had a lot of problems with reflux/not feeding properly. But I thought that was just normal. I pushed through for ages. I felt like something was wrong, but told myself to just 'suck it up', that it was probably just because of having them so close together and that I was weak if I admitted anything. It wasn't until I hit a HUGE wall and started having thoughts about harming myself that I got help - but only because my husband dragged me kicking and screaming up to the hospital. I've never been that low before.
Now, I think what I had (and continue to have) is more post natal anxiety than depression - and I think I've always had anxiety on some level but didn't know it. I have always highly stressed, a perfectionist, very organised and very prone to flipping out when things aren't 'perfect'.
4. How did your experience with PND impact on your day-to-day? It made everything hard. The daycare run seemed like the hardest thing in the world. On the days I had both kids, I would tell myself over and over again that I couldn't do it. I couldn't face it. I felt like I was failing in everything - with them, in my freelance writing work, with my blog. I felt like I was falling apart. Every day it was like there was a big dark cloud hanging over my head that I couldn't get rid of. I focussed on the little tiny things and it was all SO hard. I couldn't find the joy in much, even though I was SO proud of and so in love with my children. 5. Where did you seek help? One night I was so so low with terrible thoughts that my husband took me to the hospital straight away. From there, the doctors referred me to my local childhood centre and also to my GP. Through seeing both of them, I realised that what I was feeling was NOT normal. They both took one look at me and saw how much I needed help. 6. Explain what postpartum depression treatment strategies work for you?
After talking to me extensively, my GP prescribed an anti-depressant (as I was diagnosed as severe). I was SO against taking drugs as I thought there was such a stigma associated with them. However, I was that bad that I had to. Bringing myself to take the first tablet was HARD. And I had some not-so-great side effects for the first week. But after that, the world was bright again and I'm so glad I started taking them. The thing is, PND or anxiety is a chemical imbalance that needs to be righted - it's not 'all in your head'. It took me a while to see that.
I also decided to just take things off my plate. I decreased my workload. My husband tried to be around more. I stopped my battle with breastfeeding and switching to the bottle was SO much better for all of us. I made exercise a priority, when I could. And I found that as the months went on everything got a lot better. 7. What’s your advice to others who might be feeling anxious or down during the early stages of parenthood?
Don't bottle it up - I did, and it did me no favours. Be honest. Get help. You're completely allowed to feel like you are, it's doesn't mean there's anything 'wrong' with you. Don't just push through it, go talk to someone.
You can follow the amazing Shiv here