My recovery from postnatal depression
How do you know if you have postnatal depression and what can you do? Journalist and mum-of-two Marianne Bradley shares her story.
At six weeks Cedric slept through the night, ate well and was absolutely gorgeous. He was the dream baby and I was totally in love with him, but for some reason I felt overwhelmingly sad.
From the outside everything looked fine – we were a fully functioning family. I’d smile and nod and say the right things, but inside I felt as if I was in a bubble.
"From the outside everything looked fine ... but inside I felt as if I was in a bubble."
Diagnosis relief and rehab
My psychologist talked me through the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). I knew regular exercise would help, so I went for a daily run. A friend, who is a personal trainer, put me on a healthy eating regime, and thankfully Paul is incredibly supportive and encouraged me to take time out. I also got out every day and walked our two Labradors – and I stopped being harsh on myself.
I got worse before I got better. At times I just couldn’t imagine ever feeling happy again, but I’d just repeat a mantra to myself – ‘One day you will feel happy again’ – and gradually I’d be aware of a chink of happiness. It was like being in a dark room, which gradually became lighter.
Tools to cope
At first I saw my psychologist once a week, then once a fortnight, and eventually once a month until on the final session it was a bit like catching up with a friend.
Beatrix is now seven and Cedric is three and, although I’m better, I still have days when I feel down. But now I have the tools – I know to pop my brain on the mental equivalent of a footrest and take a load off. I do exercises that help relax my mind, and it helps me get back on track so I can start tackling life again.
And when my friends have babies, I make a point of asking them how they really are and offering help whenever I can.