Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Features

'I remember waking from a daze and finding myself with a razor at my wrists'

One-in-10 new mums are now believed to suffer from postnatal depression and celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow have spoken out about the illness. Here, one local woman who is desperate to break down the stigma, talks to Karen Ireland.

Christine Diamond (38) a Head of Early Year's teacher is married to Neil  Diamond (38), a factory operator. They live in Banbridge with their two sons Riley (3) and Rory (2). She says:

I don't remember walking into the bathroom. I just remember coming to and finding myself standing there with a razor at my wrists and calling my husband Neil.

I just looked at him and said I think I need to go to the hospital. This wasn't the first thought of suicide I'd had. Other times I had found myself driving along in the car and thinking if it crashed it would all be over and I could escape.

I wanted to escape the pain and the demons in my head. All those feelings of guilt, that I was a bad mother and I didn't deserve my babies.

People were surprised when I got pregnant so quickly with my second baby. I'd had such a difficult time with postnatal depression and it had taken me months to recover and here I was going back to work from one pregnancy and I was three months pregnant.

However, I knew I didn't want Riley to be an only child and as tough as it was for me, I thought if I didn't do it soon and put it off I would never do it.

After Riley was born, I was great for a few weeks then all of a sudden I found myself in a shop and I had a complete breakdown. I started sobbing uncontrollably and I knew I had to get home.

I called my sister Martina and my husband and they came home to find me in hysterics. I was shaking and screaming and they couldn't get me to calm down.

They took me to the doctors who helped me relax and suggested a low dose of anti-depressants.

It took a few weeks for the medication to set in and during that time I couldn't even function. It sounds ridiculous but I couldn't even boil a kettle. All I could do was lie in bed or the sofa. I was frightened to be on my own with the baby and if Neil nipped out for a while, I would call him and he would have to come straight back.

I was worried and anxious all the time.

I couldn't believe this had happened to me. I was well educated, had a great job which I loved. I was in a managerial position at school, had a great husband and fantastic family support. How could this happen to me?

It turns out PND is no respecter of character. It can happen to anyone at any time.

During those times when I couldn't function, I wasn't capable of looking after Riley, so Neil had to take time off work. My family were also a great support and helped me out.

Slowly, I started to do things. I would find I had made a cup of tea or cooked something for dinner and this was a huge achievement.

And while I knew I loved Riley, I hadn't had that instant bond with him that I knew I was meant to have. So this happened slowly over a period of time.

By the time I returned to school, I was feeling a good bit better and hoping that lightening wouldn't strike twice.

I had Rory and everything seemed to be going well for the first few days and then I remember thinking maybe I should contact the doctor just to get a low dose of medication to help me through the first few weeks.

Then it just hit me like a ton of bricks again. I couldn't get out of bed I just wanted to disappear.

I went to lie down one afternoon but then I woke up from a sort of trance and I was standing in the bathroom with the razor.

Neil drove me to Trasna House in Lurgan, where there was emergency support on call and they arranged for me to be admitted to Blue Stone, the psychiatric hospital in Craigavon.

By this stage I was past caring where I was or what was happening, I just wanted it all to be over.

I remembering sleeping a lot in hospital and peace came with sleep. They increased my meds and kept an eye on me there for a couple of weeks.

I was discharged and sent home with a home care team who came out to my house every day to check on me.

I was in the hospital over Mother's Day and I remember feeling so guilty that my babies needed me. Neil was doing everything. He was looking after the boys and visiting me.

When I got out, I had a Clinical Psychiatric Nurse looking after me and she encouraged me to get out and about with the boys and take them to toddler groups.

I also went and visited nuns in a local convent a lot and got a lot of support and prayer from them.

Slowly, I started to get my life back on track, but the PND has made me a different person.

I don't worry about things the way I used to and everything doesn't have to be run so routinely.

I try to relax a bit more and just enjoy family time. I am a much stronger person now. I don't get stressed about things.

I will talk to anyone about my experience, as I want to raise awareness that this can happen to anyone and I want people to break down the stigmas, especially that surround hospitalisation.

Going into hospital saved my life. I know I'll never have another baby. I couldn't go through that for a third time or put Neil and my family though it, but I am blessed to have two gorgeous boys.

I just take things a day at a time now. I know I can still have a bad day and there are certain triggers that lower my mood.

I try not to be too hard on myself. Everything doesn't have to be organised and perfect. That's the teacher in me wanting routine.

I've got my ambition back and I want to be a great mum but I want to be other things as well and I would like to do my post grad and look at becoming a play therapist.

Belfast Telegraph


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