I was diagnosed with having post-natal depression 7 years ago, a few months after the birth of my son, Jack. I have two children, Jack and Holly. I can still remember how ashamed I felt admitting I needed help. I was so low during a period when I should have been so happy. I felt like such a failure not being able to pull myself together and be the bubbly, happy person everyone knows me to be.
I kept my feelings to myself for a few months before asking my husband, Andrew for help. I was in a place of trying to understand why I felt the way I did and not wanting to see anyone or leave the house.
Over the years, the way I feel and what I can only describe as periods of darkness I feel, haven’t changed. But the way I handle myself and cope with my feelings has got easier. I’ve found coming to work has been a huge help. There are days I just want to hide under my duvet and not face the world but coming in has helped me bring out the best in me and be the person I want to be again. I find this hard to say, as I realise at home, with my loving and supportive family they are the ones who suffer the most from me not being the best mummy or wife.
Until recently, I hadn’t ever wanted to share how I feel with anyone at work. I felt I couldn’t. It would be career suicide. I was worried people would think I was some sort of crazy person.
But in January this year this changed. Over Christmas I’d been ill with the flu, things just spiralled and I didn’t want to come to work at all. I met with Andy, my manager, cried and cried, and shared my feelings. Andy was brilliant, he listened, didn’t judge and was as supportive as ever. Nothing has changed and I haven’t been treated any differently which is what I was most worried about. My biggest fear is that people see me differently and then act in a different way towards me.
I cannot express the sense of relief I felt to share my feelings; it was like a huge weight had been lifted, like I could be open and free.
Support and encouragement
It is okay to not be okay. My friends, family and work family are all amazing and love me no matter what I am feeling or going through. I realise now everyone is there to support me and doesn’t judge me.
I wanted to share my story in the hope of inspiring others to reach out for help and support and to encourage managers to be as supportive as mine.
Programme Manager, Supplier Engagement and Change Integration
If you’ve been affected by any of the issues in this story you may be interested in joining Aspire and our parent and careers network, PACT. You can email Aspire at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more support, you can also contact:
PANDAS Helpline – for women experiencing pre and post-natal depression: www.pandasfoundation.org.uk/helpline/.
Co-op Employee Assistance Programme: colleagues.coop.co.uk/employee-assistance-programme.