This week is perinatal mental health week, the week is to raise awareness of the emotional challenges that new parents can face during pregnancy, birth and after.
Our beautiful Amie has written to share her journey with Postnatal depression, how art helped her and to help raise awareness for others that they are not alone.
"Having a baby is meant to be the most exciting experience of your life. You are told that the instant you see your child you feel an indescribable love that will never fade. This is how birth and the arrival and pending parenthood is portrayed everywhere, especially during your pregnancy. But no one warns you of what happens if this is not reality. If you don’t feel that instant bond (which I have heard is actually very common!!).
You get warned about the “baby blues” and that this is just a hormonal change that will last a few days then everything will be rainbows and lollipops…. But for some of us those baby blues do not last only a few days, they go on for weeks and then months and you question what is wrong with you that you cannot feel the emotions and bond for your child that everyone else so naturally does. It took me 4 months to ask for help from my GP, I was terrified of being judged or that they would take my child away from me because I couldn’t provide him with the incredible love he deserved. I was merely keeping him alive. My mind had become an odd balance of darkness, numbness, horrible self-talk along with incredible fears that would have me awake even in those rare moments the baby slept.
I was terrified I would do something that would harm of kill him with out meaning to. This turned into an odd ritualization of compulsively checking he was breathing to the point I was waking him multiple times, constantly asking my husband or calling my mother to see if a small bump would kill him. Many Many Many appointments with the doctor to get stuff checked up on that did not need checking. This was exhausting which made my depressed mood grow deeper and deeper and I started to have scary thoughts about how I could escape this life. I wanted to disappear and not have to try coping anymore. As a mental health nurse myself these thoughts were quite scary to me. My GP was fantastic and referred me to the appropriate professionals to assist me in recovering. This was not an easy thing to do. I had to admit I was having trouble, I had to verbalise my thoughts and feelings (which for someone who would rather ignore and avoid my feelings this was difficult). I was put on medication, which once again was something I struggled with, but it made a huge difference. But most importantly I learnt that I need to take time to look after me as well as my family. I was not just a mother, I was also a person. As soon as I gave birth, I felt I had lost my individual identity and was now just “mum”. It was a difficult and very important part of my recovery to learn to self-love and do something just for me.
Depression makes self care and self love extremely difficult and you feel so selfish when you put yourself first for once. But when you find something that you can enjoy and do for yourself, along with professional help and support of good friends, it makes recovering much easier. This is were I found art to be a life saver. I was lucky enough to meet an incredible person (who has been an Angel in my life) Bec who introduced me to art. I fell inlove with her classes and tried to get to as many as I could. I also learnt that this was something that relaxed my overthinking overactive mind and lifted my depressed mood. Just sitting and focusing on the colours and lines making shaped and pictures was a whole new world.
Being pregnant again with my second is scary, I am terrified I will experience similar things, but I now have tools and support I need to get through this. Its important to remember that not everyones journey into parenthood is the same. The media and movies create an unrealistic expectation that we need to be aware is not always reality. Keep your friends and family close during the transition time to parenthood and don’t be afraid to ask for help".
If you or a loved one is needing some support there are some wonderful organisations out there.
Peachtree perinatal wellness organisation
There is always a space for new parents to bring their new little ones along to painting class, we are always happy to help with week day classes, evening classes or afternoon classes.