Stephanie’s story of Postnatal Depression
Stephanie is the founder of ‘Raindrops to Rainbows’, a peer-support organisation raising awareness of Perinatal Mental Health, whilst offering peer led support to mums. Stephanie is doing fantastic work within the region and beyond, and it’s a pleasure to feature her story on Love, Laughter, Truth. Stephanie’s story shows how great changes can come from great challenges, and how reaching your lowest point can be a catalyst for making a difference for others. I hope you like it.
From raindrops to rainbows
Recently, when talking about my own personal experience of Postnatal Depression, I was asked a question that nobody had ever asked me before…
What would I say to those people who had been involved in my life at the time, if I was given the chance?
It was only then that I realised, it is something that has never actually been spoken about with many of those people. The question baffled me, what would I say? So, I decided to sit in a quiet corner of Costa and write an open letter to those that were in my life when I suffered from Postnatal Depression…
I want to thank you
11 years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter, many of you saw the difficulties I went through during my pregnancy, so why were you so surprised when things hit rock bottom after I had her? And more importantly, where was your support when I needed it the most?
To my midwife…
…who listened to my worries throughout the pregnancy, who calmed me at each of my appointments, who assured me that it would all be ok…why did you not pick up the warning signs? Why, as soon as I had my baby did you suddenly forget everything that had happened prior to the birth?
Why instead of being professional and talking to me about the possibility of Postnatal Depression, seeing that I had given plenty of warning signs, did you insist on making jokes about my changing body?
Yes I get it, some new mums may be happy with their new larger, fuller boobs, but I wasn’t, I just wanted them back to normal. So your jokes about me being the next Dolly Parton were not funny, they had me in tears the moment you left my house. But I want to thank you, because it gave me the strength to understand people’s ignorance. They don’t always understand what throwaway comments like that can do to a person who is vulnerable, and I have learnt that these comments no longer matter to me. Thank you.
To my health visitor…
…who was always late getting to me and in a rush to leave to get to her next appointment, why couldn’t you have just given me an extra few minutes of your time to ask how I was feeling, and actually care about the answer if I spoke truthfully?
You gave me no comfort in my situation and made me feel frightened about speaking out, because surely if these thoughts and feelings were normal, then you would have spoken to me about it. Instead, I was left to my own devices, left feeling like a bad parent with nowhere to turn.
But I want to thank you, this was my main drive in eventually setting up support groups for mums like me, mums who were afraid to speak out or felt they had nowhere to turn, who suffered in silence because they were not talked to about the possibility of PND. It is because of you, I created Raindrops to Rainbows. Thank you.
To my ex partner…
…the father of our 3 children, why did you put me through hell and back while I was pregnant, and never offered me any form of support once I had our daughter? Instead you shouted at me if I cried, laughed and called me a psycho bitch when I had a meltdown, and turned away from me when I needed you the most.
It is because of you that I became an introvert. You were the reason I hid away from the world, because for a while, I believed your harsh words and believed that’s what I had become. That wasn’t me, that was my illness. But I want to thank you, because your cold-hearted acts and emotional abuse eventually led me to find my strength, and helped me to start my journey to find me again, something which has taken years. It is because of you that I pushed myself to finally realise my worth and discover happiness. Thank you.
To the family members…
…that saw some of what I was going through, who took no interest because you were too ignorant to understand what was happening. Why did none of you ask me how I really was? Knowing I was not ok, why didn’t you take the time to listen to how I actually felt and what I thought, instead of judging me and telling me I was wrong to feel like that, as though it wasn’t allowed.
It was allowed, you just didn’t know how to react so you denied it was happening and let me to deal with it alone.
But I want to thank you. Because of you I found strength to stand alone. It made me realise that I don’t need to justify my feelings, I am allowed to think and feel differently from everyone else, I don’t need validation. I am ME and I am proud of myself for finding strength to deal with my illness alone. Thank you.
To the friends…
…around during this time, especially those that witnessed my meltdown at our garden barbecue, you were not friends of mine. If you were, why did you just stand there staring at me like I had grown a second head? Why did you not try to comfort me instead of standing by and letting my partner hurl abuse my way, watching and laughing thinking the argument was comical. It wasn’t.
I was struggling having you all in my house and none of you understood. I was trying to make my baby’s bottle and you were spilling lager across the counter top and leaving it there for me to clean. I was trying to put some food out and one of you were changing your baby’s dirty nappy on my dining table even though there was a changing mat set down. I was trying to put my baby down for a nap and you were drunkenly shouting with so many profanities and vulgar language it was embarrassing. I wasn’t coping, even less so with you all behaving the way you were in my house.
And to the other friends who weren’t there but barely bothered with me because I suddenly had a newborn to look after, you were not my friends either.
But I want to thank each and every one of you, you showed me what friends aren’t. Because of you I learnt to be choosy with the people I let into my life, because of you I enjoy my own space more, and it is because of you all that I became wise to people’s traits far quicker. I am now able to protect myself far better. And I realised that I would rather have no friends than friends like you, which for a short period I did.
I now have the most amazing friends and more importantly, they are true friends. Thank you.
You made me who I am today
Each and every one of you who were in my life at that time have helped me become the person I am today. So I want to thank you for your contributions, but I am pleased you are no longer part of my everyday life anymore.
Raindrops to Rainbows