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My Fight Against Postnatal Depression

My Fight Against Postnatal Depression

Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 16:02

Vicky with daughter Samaire

Mental health problems are on the rise with statistics showing that 1 in 4 of us will now suffer in some form, with depression being the most common. Vicky Charles was suffering from depression when she found out she was pregnant, against the advice of her doctor she ditched her anti depressants for the sake of her unborn child.

Here she shares her story with Mumazine...

I was prescribed anti-depressants following a nervous breakdown in 2010. However, when I discovered I was pregnant my GP advised me to come off the medication for the first 12 weeks, and then said it would be okay to restart again. I stopped the medication as advised, but I made the decision that I no longer wanted to take them. I didn’t want my child to be formed while brain-altering chemicals were floating around my system and although my pregnancy was traumatic, to say the least, I managed to stick to my guns.

Things didn’t get any easier after my daughter was born. She arrived 5 weeks early and I had just moved house. We had to stay in hospital for another 2 weeks and her father left us before she was a month old. Time and time again the midwives, hospital staff, well-meaning friends, GPs and my health visitor suggested that I go back onto my medication as I was deemed a “high risk” for post-natal depression. But I was breastfeeding my daughter and although my GP assured me that "only a tiny amount” of the medication would be passed onto her in my milk, I still refused. This was a drug not licensed for under-18s, and they wanted me to feed it to my tiny, premature baby? No way!

Vicky with daughter Samaire

Following a traumatic pregnancy with an abusive, manipulative partner, my confidence was at an all-time low. I felt way out of my depth with looking after this tiny, beautiful creature and I felt like I was doing everything wrong and was scared I would be found out at any moment. I believed my daughter would be taken away from me if I showed even the slightest sign of depression, so I knew I had to do everything in my power to ensure that I didn’t get depressed again.

From past experience, I knew just how debilitating depression could be when it takes hold of you and I couldn’t afford for that to happen. By this time I had realised just how unpleasant my daughter’s father was and could not bear the thought of her being taken from me to live with him. When he shouted at me in the street that I was not mentally or emotionally stable enough to raise his child and he told anyone who would listen that I was evil and mean, I just kept plodding on.

Every morning, I got up and dressed, fed the baby, and went for a long walk. The longer the better; usually 10km or more. We would go along river paths, up hills and through the park. My daughter was still small, and usually slept through it, but I spent the time thinking about my life, about how I could stay strong for my child.

Exercise is not the best treatment for everyone, or for all forms of depression, and it didn’t help me when I had a colossal breakdown three years ago, but this time, teetering on the edge of the abyss, it helped me to take a massive step away from the brink of disaster. Now my daughter is 14 months old. We’re happy together, just the two of us, we have no contact with her father, and we giggle all the time.

You can read Vicky's blog at Single Mother Ahoy

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