Jendella Benson: A Bit More Than Baby Blues
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There is baby blues, and there is postnatal depression.
Postnatal depression affects thousands of mums in the UK, and I was one of them. My friend said that postnatal depression for her felt like she was watching everything go wrong in her life but couldn’t do anything to stop it. For me, it felt like a nightmare I had quite a lot as a child, where I was being chased by a monster but I couldn’t move my arms or legs to run away.
What makes postnatal depression even harder is when people don’t ‘get’ it. Watching last night’s episode of Teen Mom UK, I totally felt Chloe’s frustration as she was trying to explain how she felt to her mum, but her mum didn’t seem to understand.
In fact, teen mums are four times more likely than other mums to experience postnatal depression. But why?
Chloe says that when she was pregnant, she couldn’t leave her house, and many other young mums feel the same. When complete strangers judge you as you go about your business in public, the world can feel like a very unwelcoming place. That isolation, and the feelings of shame caused by other people’s judgement, can contribute to feelings of depression. And that’s just the start of it.
It’s brilliant that Chloe was able to see a counsellor, and that she had her mum’s support.
I spoke to Rosey, a mum of three who was once a teen mum herself, who opened up to me about suffering from postnatal depression.
"I was 19 as a first time mum when I experienced postnatal depression,” she told me. “I felt very isolated and didn't seek help for a long time as I feared I'd be judged by the health care professionals as being ‘just another young mum who can't cope’ and I didn't want to be put in that box."
Rosey started a website called PNDandMe to provide the sort of support she wished she’d had when she was going through postnatal depression. Every Wednesday, she hosts a tweet chat using the hashtag #PNDHour between 8pm and 9pm for mums of all ages. “I wanted to use the negative experiences to do something positive. It enables me to be the person I didn't have when I had postnatal depression,” Rosey says.
For me, I should’ve asked for help when I experienced postnatal depression, but I didn’t. However, what I did do was talk to other mums about their experiences and that helped so much in my recovery. Having people available to listen, whether it’s your family or friends, a professional or even an online community is so important.
Just last week, singer Adele opened up in an interview about her experience with postnatal depression. You can be a multimillionaire singer-songwriter, or you can be teen mum living with your parents – postnatal depression can affect us all.
Words: Jendella Benson, Young Motherhood
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