Health conditions

Allie's story – personal stories of depression and anxiety in parents with new babies

I’m a professional, intelligent woman and I felt I should have been able to deal with it.

Every day I would wake up and put on ‘the face’ to cover up what I was feeling. I used to go along to the new mother’s group at the child health centre and everyone there would talk about postnatal depression. Nobody diagnosed it so I continued to cover it up – I even lied on the Edinburgh test (a questionnaire designed to help screen for postnatal depression).

I felt that attending the child health centre was my only chance to get help. But I didn’t want to ask for help because I was a health professional and I thought I could deal with it. I watched another lady there who had twins and she was coping really well.

My mum had died a few years earlier and I had moved to Australia to live. I have no family in Australia and after my baby was born my in-laws were a bit too respectful and didn’t come over much. Other family and friends didn’t ring me, as they didn’t want to wake the baby.

I had countless visitors in the first week that she was born – and then nobody. This really isolated me. If my house wasn’t clean then I didn’t want people to come over and this isolated me even further. I would ring my husband at work and cry and ask him to come home.

I was trapped. I would sit on the stairs and look at the front door but I felt frozen – the door was right there, but I couldn’t move. It was so hard to walk out the door and leave the house. I didn’t know what to do and I still didn’t want to ask for help. I was in a strange place that I thought I would never get out of. Some days I never even had a shower.

It was 6 months before anybody noticed. The baby-sitter would come over and I would sit on the stairs and just cry. She would tell me to go out while she looked after the baby. It wasn’t until a friend came over and told me to get help that I finally acknowledged I was sick.

I finally went to see a psychiatrist and he put me on anti-depressants. Once I accepted that I was sick, my life started to pick up. I would take my baby in the stroller and go and sit in the local church and talk to my late mother. Sometimes I would also talk to the priest there who offered me lot of comfort.

I started to talk about my feelings and I realised I wasn’t alone. I knew that I didn’t have to suffer through this anymore. There were people who could help me. I knew I had to get help – if not for myself, then for my husband’s sake.

I now have 2 children and I never hesitated for one moment to have another baby. I know how to cope now and I can recognise those feelings when I might crash. People need to talk about it more to reduce the stigma within our society because unless you have experienced it first hand, you don’t understand what it is like.

It’s just so important to remember that you’re not alone – there are people who can help you.

More information

Personal stories can also be found at Just Speak Up (external site), an initiative by beyondblue (external site).

From the Heart WA (external site) also features a number of personal stories from women who have experienced depression, anxiety and stress related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor, obstetrician, child health nurse or midwife
  • Talk to a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist
  • Phone the Pregnancy, Birth and Baby Helpline on 1800 882 436
  • Phone the Mental Health Emergency Response Line – Perth metro 1300 55 788 or Peel 1800 676 822
  • Phone Rural Link, an after-hours mental health phone service for rural communities, on 1800 552 002
  • Phone the Post and Antenatal Depression Association helpline on 1300 726 306 (9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday)
  • Phone the Parenting Line on 1800 654 432

Acknowledgements
Women and Newborn Health Service

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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