"Post Natal Depression has made me a stronger person"

About: Brooker Centre

(as the patient),

"Having a baby is supposed to be the happiest time of your life" so all the books say. For me it was very different I think i was in a daze towards the end of my pregnancy, although i had a great birth i was not prepared for the storm i was about to ride.

It all began as soon as I brought my little girl home, straight away I cleaned the bathroom because I didn't want people talking about me. I was a perfect mum and I could do this, but when the sleepness nights built up and the bickering began with my partner I felt like a complete failure. I couldnt eat and began to start feeling really anxious and nervous all the time. I remember thinking "why am I feeling sad?" but this was just the beginning i struggled on for four weeks thinking I just had baby blues although I was open with midwives from the start they said it was normal as a relative tried to kill himself when my daughter was five days old and It was all a result of that.

I first knew something was very wrong when I got this overwelming feeling of blackness like i just wanted to die, I had no idea what was happening to me I was shaking and couldn't calm down. I then rang my health visitor and was diagnosed with Post Natal Depression (PND). I was sent to the doctors who just prescribed anti-depressants and sent me off with a handful of leaflets.

The day after i took the first tablet I woke the next day and felt so anxious i cannot explain it i just wanted to die i have never experienced the blackness and it brings a tear to my eye to think of it.

Then the obessional thoughts about harming myself and my baby, I was so scared of telling anybody so i continued for a week suffering with them until i got to the point where i could take no more I rang the crisis team and told the truth.

I remember my first visit to the brooker centre. Inside I felt like i was being tortured but i felt a little relief that I had nothing else to hide. A lovely Doctor changed my medication and ensured me I would get better. Of course I thought WHEN, WHEN, WHEN will I get better I can't take this anymore but was so afraid of being kept in the brooker centre and sectioned. Looking back I don't know why I was afraid I think it was to do with the stigma that is attached to mental health.

I was so relieved that I had finally told the truth, when I felt like I had been hit by another big bus SOCIAL SERVICES became involved i was not allowed to be on my own with my daughter at anytime. I remember the the social worker saying "if you didn't have such a good support network we would have to taker her away" I will never foget that as long as I live.

Dealing with the obsessional thoughts was the biggest challange I have ever had to complete but some of the staff have been such a great help I really am so greatful. My health Visitor was fantastic, she stuck by me through it all and helped me. A certain person from the crisis team was great to.

As a service user I do believe that professionals should be very careful how they handle people who suffer with mental illness. I feel we all cling on to words they say and store them. I will never forget some of the things said to me by social services and trainee doctors. They made my anxiety shoot through the roof and I think this made me a lot worse than i should of been. Sometimes I'd be fine, go the brooker centre and come home a mess. That is not how it should work and for me, it was all down to unexperienced staff talking to me and knowing nothing about me.

Someday I will tell my daughter about this, but I still feel robbed of one of the most precious moments ever, but I have to look forward and look to the future. In a funny kind of way I think the PND has made me a stronger person. I really want to help others but don't really know where to start?

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Response from Dennis Dewar, PALS Co-ordinator, 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust

Thank you for taking the time to make this posting, it is very moving and informative.

While it is good to hear that you had a "lovely doctor" a "fantastic" Health Visitor and that a "certain person from the crisis team was great" I am sorry that other inexperienced staff did not reach this standard and give you the care you deserve.

Within the Trust we have an Involvement Scheme whereby service users (past and present)and carers become involved in helping us improve the services we deliver. This includes making use of their personal experiences in designing and delivering training to staff. Often staff say that the most informative and usful part of training sessions is hearing directly from service users and carers how they have been treated, what has worked well for them and what needs to be done better.

If you are interested in becoming involved please contact either myself or Bernadette Fitzpatrick on 01925 664450 or 01925 664057.

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