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He suffered from postnatal depression
John was 32 years old when he and his wife had their first baby. He wondered what had struck him when the first 9 months of living with the new baby became sheer hell. He had moved house, started a new job, and now the baby had colic for the first nine months
The 9 months dragged on and on with his partner and him sharing no meals together, always taking turns holding baby. Despite feeling exhausted, sleep eluded him and his life felt out of control.
He felt overwhelmed with stress and worry. He felt a huge responsibility being a father who should financially support the household and keep things together.
While his GP tried to help and put him on medication John didn’t improve. Finally, he went to a psychiatrist and John remembers feeling a huge sense of relief. The psychiatrist seemed to understand how John was feeling. John felt he had come to the right person. With new medication and new hope, John noticed a turnabout within a few weeks he was improving and more in control.
He found weekends were worst when there was no schedule in place. Simple tasks like buying milk at the local dairy could become a huge ask. He and his partner resolved this issue by planning some tasks to begin straight away upon waking in the weekends.
For John, it was confidence eroding, relationship-testing time. He had panic attacks, and experienced a very fine line between being well and being unwell. He remembers the advertisements of John Kirwan admitting he had depression and felt relieved that other men felt as he had. He admired John Kirwan’s courage to admit this so-called “weakness”.
John now believes that most people don’t recognise that men can get postnatal depression and how serious this can be and feels that it is largely undetected and untreated.
Finally now John is able to talk about his PND and has found that there are many more men like him. When he was sick he had difficulty admitting that he was unwell and now he is more open. He realises that it takes time to recover but it is worth the long hard journey and that personal strength can be gained.
His wife had postnatal depression
“Leading up the birth of my first child everything seemed happy and normal as we did not know what sex the child and it was going to be a surprise. We were so excited and could not wait to be first time parents.
After a birth that was long and stressful for my wife, we had a beautiful little girl. Going home we settled in and whilst we were both so tired, life initially was great.
I did not know anything about Postnatal Depression and never ever thought that my wife would suffer from it. She was such a happy positive person and was a very maternal woman. It was me that was always down and depressed and feeling low. When my wife became unwell I did not know what to do to support her and was no help at all.
As a couple we really never have been very open about how we feel. I know that I have always kept my feelings to myself, even some times not wanting to live any more!
During this time I felt that everything in our lives had turned dull and grey. Even although we had this beautiful baby, life was a struggle. My wife’s depression and anxiety was really eating away at her but I did not know how to deal with it or how bad it really was for her.
I deeply regret now not being there for her when she needed me. I did not understand why she was always low, grumpy and tired. It seemed that there was no time for me anymore and no matter what I did, it was not good enough.
When my wife was depressed I was just as bad, if not worse. Because I was not strong for her, she would sink lower. It was as though we both needed a happy positive partner to help us through this time, but we didn’t have one.
My wife finally went and got help and was diagnosed with postnatal depression and anxiety. She went onto medication and slowly improved.
My wife is still taking medication. With the birth of our second child, mother, father and baby are well. My wife and I are a better couple for having gone through this experience and we now know the symptoms to look for. We are both a lot more relaxed and open, enjoying the baby experience the second time around with both of us working together as team.”