Health conditions

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

I have two girls, Kylie and Anna. I was diagnosed with depression during my second pregnancy following a very ‘loud’ argument with my husband over a bag of potting mix.

My depression went undetected after my first child was born in Tom Price and therefore came to a head when it did. Both pregnancies were planned and healthy. I didn’t even think the labour and delivery of the natural births were that bad. Being isolated in the remote mining town of Tom Price with Kylie was very hard. Nobody could explain my mood swings, temper tantrums at home and other little things that were happening to me. Family support was next to nothing and even my own mum (whom I have always been close to) told me to get over it. Finally, we moved to Perth.

With my second pregnancy, my GP explained depression as a physical problem, not a mental problem, which I actually found quite comforting. Once I had Anna everything was fine until she was about 3 months. I didn't want to get up, was yelling at the girls, my husband and even the pets, so I sought help through From the Heart (external site) (formerly known as Post Natal Depression Support Association).

It was fantastic. Eventually I attended therapy groups and they saved my sanity. I realised I was not alone and was not going stark raving mad. Once I began to understand everything, I could talk about it and deal with the issues at home.

I also went on medication for 18 months which was the best thing I ever did. It took the edge off my feelings, enabling me to take a step back and look at the real things in my life. The washing became not as important as reading The cat in the hat, and the fancy meals and clothes became bangers and mash in my trackies.

I now enjoy my life and family so much more, and have learned to prioritise my life in a way that makes me feel very loved and wanted in my family and the community. I will always remember my mum saying to me during one of my very low days: "I never thought you would cope." That hurt, but months later when I saw her, I sat her down and explained all the information I had learned. She told me she understood and felt that was what she went through after my father died (I was only 3), but back then there was no support.

One thing I really feel now is that having been through PND, I am a better and stronger person. I’m more aware of myself and the experience has given me the confidence to face up to the fact that I’m only human and things don't always go as planned.

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.

Link to HealthyWA Facebook page