PANDA week – Sarah's story
Despite knowing quite a few mums who had experienced post natal depression, I was somehow convinced it wouldn’t happen to me. By all accounts I had a great support network, a healthy baby boy, a husband who was helping with feeds – even those over night – and for the first 6 weeks of my baby being earthside I really felt that though I was exhausted and out of my depth, I was going to be okay.
Yes, babe had arrived three weeks early on my first day of maternity leave; yes, I’d gone through 10 hours of labour only to have an emergency C-section; yes, I struggled hard with breast feeding; and yes, my baby was feeding every two to three hours and I was expressing in between which basically meant I was tits-out 20 hours a day. But it was nothing that other mums hadn't gone through, it was nothing that couldn’t be handled, right? I mean I had so much to feel grateful for. Who did I think I was crying all the time?
Then baby boy stopped linking his daytime sleep cycles and developed horrendous reflux which put us in a nightmare merry go round of comfort (over) feeding, screaming, and puking. My anxiety around sleep meant that despite my exhaustion I was often unable to fall asleep and to top it all off my middle-aged male GP advised me that it wasn’t safe to be on antidepressants while I was breast feeding, and that it was more important to keep breast feeding than it was to deal with my mental health. I cannot stress enough that both of these things are blatantly untrue but that didn't stop me further leaning into the guilt and shame associated with seeking help.
The darkness descended and it got really hard to see the positives in anything. It was only because my co-founder Dana was so forthcoming about everything she had gone through just six months before that I eventually got babe into sleep school and myself into therapy and started to feel that I might come through the other side of this.
I’m unashamed to say now that I’m medicated and a better parent for it. It took a lot of therapy for me to get to that point but now I will tell any woman who will listen because not only is there stigma in depression, there is stigma in treating it, which is bananas when you think about it.
I recognise that everyone’s experience is different and not all mums will experience PND and not all those who do, will need or want medication. But I think it’s so important that we talk about our experiences and continue to talk about them unashamedly, because you never know when your honesty will help someone else feel less alone or encourage them to seek help.
If this has touched a nerve for you, you can reach out to PANDA, Beyond Blue or Lifeline. We’d love to hear from you if you have experienced PND or struggles post partum. You can get in touch via our instagram DMs or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Sending love and strength to mamas everywhere.
This week, 8-14 November is PANDA week — an important chance to encourage conversation and raise awareness of perinatal anxiety and depression. While prevalent in society, these issues remain shrouded in 'ickiness' and continue to be difficult to discuss.
Both founders of Not a Pony had their own experiences with post natal depression, which is why we are so focused on elevating mothers, shining a light on sensitive issues, and why the Tired Mama Pack is amongst our core offering. We know first-hand the difference it can make when someone sees your struggle, acknowledges it without judgement, and offers help.
This week we will share our own stories, as well as those of our amazing friends and followers so that we can help reduce the stigma around PND and encourage open and 'ick'-free discussion about mental health.
5% of all sales this week will be donated to @pandanational to help fund their life-saving work, so if you've been thinking about showing someone some love with one of our prints or packs, this week is a great week to do it!