Our interview with Anna Williamson

Mind Ambassador and TV presenter Anna expected motherhood to fill her with joy – but instead was left feeling anxious and alone. She shares her experience of postnatal anxiety and why she’s decided to write a guide for other new parents with the Mind Membership Magazine. 

Check out some of her interview below.

Anna's interview is just one of the amazing features in this edition of the Mind Membership News including members own stories, expert adivce and mental health news.

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On becoming a mum…

I very much wanted a baby. It was a planned pregnancy and something I’d wanted for 20 years. But I suffered with anxiety throughout my pregnancy, then I had a pretty crappy birth and as I entered this weird and wonderful world of being a parent with all these hormones crashing together, I suffered with terrible postnatal depression, postnatal anxiety and birth trauma. I felt very alone – crippling loneliness – in those early weeks.

On anxiety during pregnancy…

I just thought that for the first couple of months I was having the natural worries you have about being pregnant, though looking back all the signs were there that I was suffering from perinatal anxiety. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t enjoying pregnancy. I had overwhelming anxiety about how I was going to cope, and I was getting irritable. My husband is a personal trainer and relies on eating vast quantities of meat, but during my pregnancy it smelt to me like dead bodies. We ended up having huge arguments about minced beef!

I suffered with terrible postnatal depression, postnatal anxiety and birth trauma. I felt very alone – crippling loneliness – in those early weeks.

On expectation versus reality…

For so many of us, becoming a parent is so different to how we expect it will be. It goes against everything society tell us it should be and everything in every Hollywood movie – but there’s a huge taboo about discussing it. When I had Enzo, I couldn’t dare admit this to anybody but it felt like the plug had been pulled out of the socket. I felt nothing but shock and an overwhelming sense of, ‘What the hell do I do now?’. There was just this blank space where I felt I should be experiencing all these feelings and emotions. It was terrifying: I just felt like a horrible person.

On seeking help…

Even in the fog that post-birth period, I recognised the familiar feelings of when I had a huge episode of anxiety years ago. They came back and walloped me like a spade in the face. I spoke to my consultant psychiatrist and we looked at the best possible options. I wanted to go back on medication, and so I had to make the very difficult choice to stop breastfeeding my son because it wasn’t very compatible with the medication I needed. We decided though that that was the best decision for my health and the health of my baby

On deciding to write about parenthood…

In those early weeks I really questioned my choice to become a mum. But then I began to research the subject, talking to new mums and – its important to say – dads as well, because they absolutely go through similar experiences. We’ve got so many books on practical parenting, but there’s this whole other aspect of postpartum mental health, which is just as important and all-consuming, so I wanted to write about my experiences and offer them as a beacon of hope and support.

 

Anna’s new book ‘Breaking Mum and Dad: The Insider’s Guide to Parenting Anxiety’ is out now and available at all the usual booksellers.

For information on maternal mental health, read our resources here.

If you have any questions about this article or Mind membership, get in touch with the team at [email protected]

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