Mental Health Monday: Speak Up

Although we may have all spent our teenage years trying desperately to get away from embarrassing parents, parents are a class of people that we will all come across in everyday life. Hopefully, many of you reading this post are parents – mothers or fathers. It’s so important to understand and raise awareness of not only maternal mental health but of parental mental health generally.

Particularly important is raising awareness in our workplaces, because of the progress that has been made towards diversity and equality across this sphere generally – though much still needs to be done. Gender equality is increasing and this progress cannot be undone by a lack of support or awareness of the issues faced by new mothers and fathers, who, of course, make up a significant proportion of our working population.

Work-related stress is something which has affected so many people, so it is increasingly crucial to make sure that parents have no further stress upon returning to work, either by making admissions that they are seeking help for mental health conditions, or by suffering in silence and perhaps struggling in the meantime. Postnatal depression is not normally a topic spoken about widely enough for others to recognise that it can affect both mothers and fathers equally, and potentially adoptive or other kinds of parents as well.

At the moment, postnatal depression is diagnosed in around 1 in 10 mothers (though the actual number affected may be much higher!) and, according to recent NCT research, it also affects 1 in 10 fathers, though it may sometimes be called paternal depression rather than postnatal.

But I truly believe that nobody should have to suffer in silence in fear of a backlash if they do make a public admission of his or her postnatal depression. Encouraging an open dialogue around parental mental health brings us one step closer to ending mental health stigma altogether.

In some respects, the stigma of postnatal depression is more difficult to overcome, as many people can’t even fathom how a happy event such as the birth of a baby can lead to depression, psychosis, PTSD or anxiety as a result. The truth is that there is no logic to mental health conditions, and the expectations we are given to feel a certain way can make us feel inadequate, or undeserving, which can be where it all begins.

So how do we overcome the stigma surrounding mental health concerns? It’s necessary for the proper functioning of society that we’re able to move forward, and we have to raise awareness in order to do just that.

Personally, I believe that we should endeavour to be accommodating in our lives and particularly in our professional careers for new parents, encouraging and helping people to speak up, as they may be fighting battles unknown to the rest of us.

This post was written as part of our Raising Healthy Minds campaign.

Coping With Postpartum Psychosis

I wouldn’t want to leave the house and I would completely isolate myself from the outside world. Postpartum psychosis led me to being sat on the edge of a bridge on the motorway at night, I was sectioned under the mental health act and taken to a place of safety… the NHS provides incredible support

I thought long and hard about what my first post should be, I wanted it to be something personal yet something people can relate to…. something informative. I decided to write about postpartum psychosis. Now, I know soap dramas have done previous stories but they’re not entirely accurate.

People always stress about post-natal depression but not so much postpartum psychosis, firstly let me give the NHS symptoms of postpartum psychosis;

    • a high mood (mania) – she may talk and think too much or too quickly, feel ‘on top of the world’, or be more sociable than normal
    • a loss of inhibitions
    • paranoia, feeling suspicious or fearful
    • restlessness or agitation
      • a low mood – she may show signs of depression and be withdrawn or tearful, with a lack of energy, loss of appetite, anxiety, irritability or trouble sleeping
    • severe confusion.
My official diagnosis was “post-natal depression with elements of postpartum psychosis”. The stresses of being a new mum had gotten to me, I felt I could hear people talking about me, judging me…I would lay in bed at night and was adamant I could physically hear people talking about me, I wouldn’t want to leave the house and I would completely isolate myself from the outside world. Postpartum psychosis led me to being sat on the edge of a bridge on the motorway at night, I was sectioned under the mental health act and taken to a place of safety… the NHS provides incredible support and I urge anyone with any of the above symptoms to seek medical advice. I was placed on the following medication which helped massively;
  • ·         sertraline 200mg – an anti-depressant that is commonly used for postnatal depression and is safe to breastfeed with
  • ·         risperidone 1mg – an anti-psychotic that unfortunately isn’t safe to breastfeed on
  • ·         zopiclone 3.75mg – a common sleeping tablet
  • ·         diazepam 2mg a tablet used for multiple conditions however used as a sedative in regard to mental health.

My battle is still ongoing, my battle with postpartum psychosis has come to an end, however my battle with postnatal depression is still ongoing, the stresses of being a mother (finances, family stresses and chronic health conditions) are difficult to overcome. I feel this country has a stigma on mental health especially postnatal depression, but this blog is very open and supportive to mental health.
Postpartum psychosis isn’t as commonly spoken about as postnatal depression, however is gradually becoming more common, more mums are speaking out about it and more awareness is being made. I hope this small introductory post from me has been helpful, and I look forward to writing more in the future 😊

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