My own journey…
21 years ago, I gave birth to a much wanted and much-loved son; our 2nd child having already been blessed with our beautiful daughter 8 years prior. Like many couples, we experienced loss with miscarriage, but we carried on the journey and fortunately had the happy ending miracle of life.
I feel and hope that all those years ago, that the workplace has changed. The culture of supporting new families with maternity and parental leave has improved, and the post-natal experience is better understood. My experience to that which I see now, was very different.
My career was important and not long after having my son, the pharmaceutical business that I worked for was having a product launch. I felt pressurised to return to work and when my son was approx. 8 weeks old, I returned to work during the busiest time….a FULL drug launch. Oh, what a mistake!!!
The next 6 months saw my mental health deteriorate. I became obsessed in doing my best at work, trying to overachieve, over deliver whilst still being a new mum. I focused on my work and new baby and didn't see that I was neglecting my daughter and my husband. I failed to recognise symptoms of post-natal depression in spite of selling ‘anti-depressants'….and no one took me to one side and asked, ‘how are you doing?'
Roll on to 6-8 months post our sons birth and I had a melt-down. I could not work; I could not be the mummy I wanted to be. I could not be the wife I wanted to be…. I felt so low, so unhappy, so sad….with medication and the strong support of my husband and family I made a full recovery. I look back now, and after some invaluable counselling and therapy over the last 2 years (yes, 19 years later), I no longer carry the burden of guilt of putting my family through those months experiencing what must have been challenging. Seeing my wonderful daughter become a mother with a company that has supported her throughout her pregnancy, maternity leave and return to work, is a real delight knowing that things have changed for the positive and are continuing to change.
Mental Health Awareness Week is a time for us all to reflect on how poor MH has impacted our lives and to celebrate those who have recovered from their lowest point in time, who have found treatments, programs, initiatives to support them to live with their MH, and to put an arm around those that are going through loss or dark times as a result of MH.
Be kind, be supportive, show you care.