Emma Collins ran a really successful Coffee Morning to raise money for APNI in February this year. The event was held at Pen Green Centre in Corby which itself offers support for post-natal depression
One in seven to 10 mothers in the UK suffer from some form of Postnatal Depression yet even today, it remains a taboo subject. But one local woman has been strong enough to share her experiences in the hope that it will start to change all that. The Evening Telegraph went to meet her.
Having already given birth to two children, Emma Collins, 26, didn’t expect her third pregnancy to be any different.
Emma, from Little Stanion, said: “I didn’t massively pick up on any unusual signs while I was pregnant but a red flag should have been how obsessive I became about cleaning the house, I would bleach it top to bottom.
“I was in and out of hospital for the last four months of my pregnancy with my kidneys and sometimes things like that can trigger PND but again, I didn’t think anything of it and just thought once Sam was here, we’d go home and everything would be perfect.”
But two days after giving birth to Sam, Emma knew that wasn’t going to be the case.
She said: “I just didn’t feel right, I was jittery and couldn’t really rest but I couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong.”
The midwives believed it was exhaustion from the labour so sent Emma and Sam home with orders to rest but a few days later, Emma started having panic attacks.
She said: “When you hear about postnatal depression you think of women who don’t bond with their babies and don’t want to be near them but I was the opposite, I was bonding with Sam but I went too far the other way and had him with me all the time, not letting anyone else really near him.”
Emma ended up being referred to the Corby mental health team who prescribed her a very low dose of anti-depressants to try and ease her anxiety but after they didn’t work, she was sent to a psychiatric doctor who prescribed three different types of medication including a tranquilliser.
Emma said: “They didn’t seem to work either, as I got to the point where I couldn’t function, I couldn’t eat, I wasn’t drinking much and I couldn’t get out of bed.
“I didn’t get dressed, I didn’t brush my hair, I didn’t do any housework, I just couldn’t function.
“And I didn’t have enough emotional space for Jack and Abigail, I only had enough for Sam, so my husband and family had to take care of them while I did what I had to do for Sam.
“I had thought that I would harm the children in some way which was so scary, the obsessive thoughts were constantly there from morning until night.
“I would vomit from the anxiety and I dropped below eight stone at one point.
“I was a very outgoing person, always doing things and seeing friends and taking the children out but I got to the point where I wouldn’t leave the house, I wouldn’t even go to the supermarket because I thought people would be looking at me and saying things about me.”
After three months, Emma went back to the mental health team who brought in a psychiatrist and it was then that things finally started to change for the better.
Emma said: “I was diagnosed with postnatal obsessive compulsive disorder and severe anxiety and depression.
“I was given some anti-depressants and anti-psychiotic drugs and for the first two to seven days I was very sedated so slept a lot which really helped as my brain started to slow down and I didn’t get as wound up.
“I was with the crisis team for over a month which is quite a long time but it helped me process everything that had happened.
“I then got a big support network who I would meet with every four weeks to talk about things and I really started to move forward because of this.
“You don’t just wake up and think ‘I’m cured’, you can still have good days and bad days.
“I was loads better by August last year and I’d say by September/October I was as cured as I was going to be, because I don’t think you ever fully get over what happens.
“I would tell anyone in a similar position to speak up and not be ashamed, just because you can’t see the illness, it doesn’t mean it’s not a real problem.
“But no matter how bad it gets, women should know that it does get better.
“I would not have believed it at the time when I was going through it, I would have thought all these people saying it were lying but it’s honestly true.
“I finally feel like me again, I go out with friends, I take all three children out to play and really, I think I’m a better person for having gone through it all.
“A lot of mums worry that they are going to emotionally harm their baby but Sam is a really happy baby and Jack and Abigail seem to be happy too.
“I would also say don’t be afraid of trying anti-depressants, they can be a big help and without the ones the psychiatrist gave me, I wouldn’t have got to a suitable state to go through therapy, which was the real turning point for me.
“I didn’t have the best experience with certain departments but that’s why I think it’s really important to tell people to not be afraid of speaking up and asking to see the wellbeing team or to find out more about available therapies.
“I also found that the Association of Postnatal Illness a great source of support so it’s important mums in a similar position to what I was in know where they can go for the much needed support and reassurance, because with that, you can start to move forward.”
Senior Feature Writer
Northants Evening Telegraph