This morning marks the start of the second UK Maternal Mental Health Matters Week, with a theme of ‘Support for All’.
Worldwide about 10% of pregnant women and 13% of women who have just given birth, experience a mental disorder, primarily depression. The thing to remember is that maternal mental disorders are treatable.
Sometimes just finding the strength to admit that you have a problem is key to finding the help that you need that will help you feel more like yourself once more.
I don’t often talk about this, but after J was born he spent a week in intensive care and it triggered a severe bout of separation anxiety in me.
I found it so difficult to still be in hospital but for him to be three floors up and away from me, even though I was often wandering the corridors in the small hours just to check on him.
When it came to returning to work, I really struggled with being apart from him. It didn’t help that we’d just spent an entire year attached to each other, and like many, we didn’t have any family nearby so it exacerbated the situation.
It’s fair to say that after a short while of me returning to work full time, I hit rock bottom. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that I was only getting to see J for 30 minutes a day. Something had to change.
The reason that I’m telling you this, is because, in this picture above, you would never have known that I was feeling this way. Of course, as soon as I was with him, I was fine again.
I tried counselling, which didn’t really work – I felt like I was helping the counsellor instead of the other way around. I was even sent for psychiatric testing. The middle-aged man with his clipboard was somewhat baffled as he couldn’t find anything wrong with me but said I should be prescribed anti-depressants as he couldn’t think what else would help! And yet throughout everything, I knew what the issue was – I just wanted to be with my son – but on my terms.
So, I ignored the man with the clipboard entirely and not long after hitting rock bottom – I put in place a strategy to make the life that I wanted. And part of that was building the Working Mum Association.
Because you never know when someone is struggling and you never know when someone closest to you needs support. Please just be there as much as you can for fellow working mums to help support them so they no longer feel alone on their journey.
It’s why I’m also going to begin work to encourage UK companies to start introducing WMM’s or Working Mum Mentors, where fellow working mums volunteer to buddy up with a mum returning to the workplace. Everything they say is between them, but it’s a start to end the common feelings of isolation and all the issues that can go with getting back into the swing of a nine to five.
Working mums are incredible but they need support to be able to constantly juggle everything that they do. And this is a good time for everyone to sit up and start to take notice. Because PND and Separation Anxiety and many more mental disorders really have to be taken seriously, not just brushed under the carpet.
I know this has been a bit of a heavy post for a Monday morning, but I didn’t want the week to not be talked about or discussed in some way here.
You’re all brilliant ladies – keep shining like the stars that you are… x