Being sectioned as a new mum

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Posted on 10/05/2018 by Amy Steele |

When her daughter Maddie was born, Amy found herself struggling with her mental health and was eventually sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Here, she shares her story, and reminds us how important it is to ask for help.

I didn’t feel great during my pregnancy, physically or mentally. I wasn’t happy about being pregnant and however much I tried, I couldn’t get excited. I felt an impending sense of doom and the feeling that my life was over. I didn’t share how I was feeling with anyone as I felt guilty and didn’t think they’d understand.

I tortured myself with guilt as so many people want children and can’t have them yet there I was dreading becoming a mother. I kept thinking to myself that everything would be ok once she’s here.

When Maddie was born, she was handed to me and I waited for the rush of love but it didn’t come. I told myself that I loved her but I felt nothing.

I had a sickening, claustrophobic feeling that this was my life now. 

It felt like a weight pressing down on my chest and I felt an overwhelming sense of regret at becoming a parent. 

The first night at home was awful. Maddie screamed non-stop and I was convinced that she would die from my lack of maternal instinct. I had been awake for over 96 hours and was extremely on edge. I was frantically googling EVERYTHING and making myself sick with worry.

The midwife came round the next morning and I couldn’t control my tears.  I was told that it was just ‘baby blues’. I told her that I didn’t want to be a Mum. She sent me back to hospital.

Back in hospital, I was told that how I was feeling was ‘normal’ and I needed to try and get some rest. I felt so stupid. I was so on edge and anxious.  I was starting to realise that this wasn’t just ‘baby blues’, I wanted to die. Like, actually end my own life right that second. 

The midwife came to check on me and I kept asking her to end my life. I was sobbing and saying ‘please just let me die’. Doctors came in to tell me that everything was going to be ok. I didn’t believe them. I had reverted back to being a child again.

 I felt vulnerable and unable to function as an adult let alone a parent. Every little thing was a struggle.

I felt so unbelievably low and desperate. It was the worst feeling I had ever felt and I couldn’t see it getting any better. I was tired of caring so much about what others thought of me. Tired of hating myself so much.  Everyone would be so much better off without me.

I saw my opportunity and ran for the door with the intention of ending my life. I wanted the pain to stop once and for all. I ran for the exit but was tackled by a midwife.

I was sectioned under section 4 of the Mental Health Act  for my own safety.  This meant I couldn’t leave the hospital for 72 hours.

I was assessed by doctors and psychiatrists and it was decided that I was very unwell and was placed in a Mother and Baby Unit, three hours away from home.

I was petrified and had to be sedated for the journey. We arrived at the MBU and I was assessed at 1am. I was exhausted, distraught and drowsy from the sedative. I was sectioned again. This time under section 2 which meant I could be detained for up to 28 days.

I became very distant from Maddie and didn’t want to be near her.  Every little sound or movement she made triggered my anxiety.

I constantly told myself that life was good and many people have it worse. Which just added to the guilt. 

You cannot talk yourself out of depression. Just like you cannot talk yourself out of having the flu or a broken leg.

I was exhausted, though I wasn’t doing much apart from existing. I had no appetite and didn’t enjoy anything anymore. I felt like I was living in a dark hole with no escape. Making decisions was difficult. I didn’t like thinking about the future as it seemed so grey.

I didn’t believe that I would ever feel better but slowly, with the help of family, friends and professionals, I learned to let go of the guilt and accept that I had an illness. I was then able to really begin my recovery.

Thoughts of suicide became less frequent and my emotions levelled out.  I was trying hard to bond with Maddie and would take her out for walks by myself. 

One day it dawned on me that I was enjoying spending time with her instead of fearing it. I finally felt like the clouds were clearing.

I am much better now and am proud of how far I have come. I have worked hard at my recovery and kept going when all I wanted to do was disappear.

My advice is please don’t suffer in silence.  Accepting help was the best thing I ever did.

Remember that you are NOT alone and there are people out there that want to help you too! 

Believe In Happy Project

During my recovery, I was sent a ‘get well soon’ card. It made me realise that people do recognise that you are unwell and want to wish you well in your recovery just as they would with a physical illness. I can’t emphasise enough the positive impact that sending a card can have to someone who is struggling with their mental health.

At Funky Pigeon, we know that many people send cards for physical illness, yet only a minority do the same for mental illness. We want to change this by encouraging people to open up about their mental health condition and help to reduce the stigma by offering a choice of cards with kind messages and information on who to contact if the recipient needs support.

30% of the card sales will be donated to Mind.

https://www.funkypigeon.com/cards/encouragement-cards

Categories: Depression | Parenting with a mental health problem | Postnatal depression (PND)

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Amy Steele

Amy – Designer at Funky Pigeon. Hoping to Inspire people to #believeinhappy

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