Men and post-natal depression – Jane Davidson
Post natal depression affects one in five women and one in seven men in Australia, according to the Gidget Foundation. This got me thinking about two things: what is going on for women that is leading to such a high statistic and what is it like for partners who are supporting women going through this?
From first hand experience, I understand how bad PND can be and, from the work I do in counselling women and their partners, I know the effect on the partner can be equally as bad.
I am a huge believer in supporting women so they can talk about PND and not feel ashamed. It is also very important to hear from the others involved with the person experiencing PND. We need to know how it affects them.
To that end, I recently asked a male client if they would be willing to share their story and I am very grateful that he agreed to give me his perspective on PND and what living with it is like.
How many children do you have?
How many times has your partner had PND?
What changes did you see in your partner?
I saw someone who is usually very confident, self assured and generally completely in control, be taken over by anxiety, fear, and isolation. It was like they had fallen into a mental black hole, and nothing would change how they felt.
What was it like for you living with someone with PND?
To be honest it was pretty scary the first time. I had never been so closely exposed to any sort of depression before, so I didn’t understand what was going on. I was pretty excited being a first time dad, and was enjoying it, but at the same time I was watching my wife absolutely hate it. When I was around everything seemed ok, but when I had to work, I didn’t know what would happen through the day, or how I could help. It can be exhausting, frustrating and emotionally draining.
What was your biggest fear at that time ?
That my wife would hurt either herself or the baby, or just disappear.
How did it change your life?
I would say the biggest change is understanding PND and my own awareness and empathy around people going through PND and other mental health issues.
What was the pivotal moment tat lead you and your partner to seek help?
I had just come home from work, and my wife was cutting fruit with tears streaming down her face, it was like she was another person. The baby started to cry and she just lost it. I honestly, without a doubt, thought she was going to hurt herself.
Did you talk to anyone about what you were going through?
About that incident, no. I did get a lot of support from my mother-in-law throughout, and that was important, knowing that I wasn’t alone either. After the knife incident we went to the GP and organised counselling, which made a massive difference.
What tips would you give other partners who are dealing with this?
You are not alone! Talk to someone. Take the baby out and give your partner a chance to have time to herself. But also make sure you spend time together like you did before the baby came along. Little things help.
Encourage your partner to go the GP and get professional help. That was what changed things for us
Any last comments?
When you look at the numbers of how many people suffer from PND, there are a lot of people that must have first hand experience. Yet there is still this perceived weakness around PND. People need to be honest and talk about it, be compassionate and empathetic and be aware.
PND can be a lonely and isolating time for both the women and for their partners, so it is important that you both seek help when you feel you are ready.
If you think you are suffering from PND or just feeling a bit overwhelmed or you are watching a loved one struggle, contact us here for support.