Our 7th ‘True Story’ in the series for Maternal Mental Health Matters Awareness Week comes from mental health blogger Nadene Marsh.
Since I was in my early twenties, I have helped my mum to look after my disabled dad, which was as a result of emergency brain surgery that he underwent. This left my dad a very different and dependant person and was after months of rehabilitation, including having to learn to do everything over again.
Until my early thirties I lived at home with them and I did not get married until my mid-thirties, which was several years after our first son had been born.
Shortly after we decided to get married, my mum became very ill and passed away on the day before New Years Eve. It wasn’t an easy time and the wedding preparations ground to a halt until a short while before we were due to get married.
There was never any question or discussion over who would care for my dad and although it took almost a year of us being with him through the week and my brother at weekends while we went back to our own house, we finally found a house that was suitable for the four of us to live in.
In 2008 just before the birth of our second son, I had a dreaded fear that something terrible was going to happen and it was something that I just couldn’t seem to shake.
A few short days after he was born I knew that something wasn’t right. I felt totally useless as a human being, let alone an experienced mum.
The feelings of love and joy that should come naturally just weren’t there and I began to withdraw further into myself, to the point that I felt my newborn deserved someone better than me.
My husband was very worried about me and my erratic behaviour, but I thought that I had just become an evil person and that nothing was psychically wrong with me.
My sister-in-law managed to talk me into attending our local A & E, where I was given antidepressants and refferred to the Crisis Team because I had mentioned that I didn’t want to carry on living.
Within the next few weeks my behaviour grew worse, but as I could appear fine one minute then drop the next, the true extent of my illness was not seen by any of the health professionals.
Things very quickly got to the stage where I begged my husband not to leave me alone with our children and I even suggested having our new baby son adopted. I believed that I didn’t deserve to live as I was so evil for even thinking this, let alone demanding it from my husband.
I begged to be locked away, but I wasn’t considered poorly enough for this. I felt that I had no other option than to end my life, in order to give my husband and children a better future and one without such an evil person ruining all of their lives.
Fortunately I was found by my dad’s carer who had come to look after him and after calling my husband to come home, an ambulance was called.
After I was released from the hospital, I was visited by the Crisis Team, who decided that I would be admitted to a mental health unit for a short assessment period. This began the start of a four month stay on that unit.
During this time none of the different combinations of medication seemed to have any effect on my mood or my feelings, in fact being seperated from my second child only seemed to be making my illness worse.
It was decided that I would be given a course of Electroconvulsive Therapy and transferred to a specialist Mother and Baby Unit, once a bed had been found.
Although I refused to look after my son for the first few weeks of me being on the MBU, with more sessions of ECT I started to get better. The staff there helped me to build up the bond with my beautiful baby boy and without a shadow of a doubt, saved my life, although my progress was slow and had many set-backs along the way.
During all of this time my husband was having to juggle working full-time, looking after our children and my dads care as well.
Luckily he had the support of a close family member to help with caring for our children, but as my dad’s health deteriorated, the pressure was too much and my dad was put into rest-bite at a local care home.
This was the one thing that I had promised my mum would never happen, but given the situation, there really was no other choice.
During this time it was discovered that my dad had bone cancer, which was at a very advanced stage.
Fortunately for my dad, his suffering was short and a few months later he passed away.
In total I spent just under a year as an in-patient, in which time there were several further suicide attempts, but after my progress improved and my home leave was slowly increased, I was finally released.
My continuing progress was slow and it wasn’t until around six months later that the doctors reluctantly let me return to my part-time work.
Everything was fine until around ten months ago, when I started getting that evil feeling again.
I dare not admit this to anyone, for fear of letting those I love down again, but after everything I had put him through before, my husband knew that something wasn’t right.
We went to the doctors and I was once again given anti-depressants and referred for further help.
My behaviour was by far worse this time and I had to have my father-in-law stop with me during the day, because it was uncertain if I would get out of bed, let alone get my children ready for school.
As my moods changed so dramatically once again, it was very difficult for anyone to judge how poorly I had become.
After several appointments with various mental health workers, it was determined that I shuld attend a mental health day hospital for 8 weeks.
I had been saying for some time how bad the side-effects of my antidepressants were and although my husband and my own GP had requested that the hospital changed them, the doctor there didn’t seem to believe that they were as bad as I said and refused. My moods turned to practically a total low one and even though I kept saying that I needed to go into a mental health unit as an in-paitent, the only thing the doctors would do was agree to change my medication, which was by this time kept locked away in a safe at home, because of how low I had become.
I was asked to take in all of my remaining medication so that it could be changed.
In the back of my mind must have been the thoughts of how many failed combinations of medication I had been prescribed with PND and that they just didn’t believe how poorly I knew I was, so I took the opportunity, took all of my remaining medication and locked myself in our garage so that I wouldn’t be found straight away.
I don’t think that my intention was to kill myself, just to get the doctors to listen to me and when my father-in-law came looking for me, I told him what I had done.
Even with my previous history and me begging, the on-call mental health nurse at the hospital said that it was very doubtful that I would be admitted, as there were no beds available, but after further begging, a place was found for me.
It took four further months of treatment and medication for me to be released and plenty of help from my mother-in-law and father-in-law with looking after the children.
There is not a day that goes by where I don’t feel guilt over my dad, my children and everything I put my husband, family and friends through…. but I know that I have to battle on and that I will be doing this for the rest of my life, because I have been told that I am more prone to depression and I will never know if and when it may once again rear it’s ugly head.
To read more from Nadene please visit skybluenadworldpresscom.wordpress.com
For more information on PMH please visit www.pmhcymru.com
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