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I have a heavy heart today. A woman I got to know amongst our Mothers Helpers forum had an accident recently – it is suspected suicide. She is currently on life support and is not expected to make it. A little over a year ago, I had many conversations with her, pleading for her to get some help. She was very resistant to the idea of medication and refused to believe that she needed medication to get better. Many women feel like this who struggle with depression. I was resistant to getting help myself for many months. Depression creeps up on you and often you don’t realise just how bad it is getting because things have not been great for a while. When depression is mild, research tells us it is possible to “beat it” with diet and exercise and therapy. This requires a great deal of effort, though, and there are a couple of symptoms about depression that work against you: low motivation, low energy, and difficulty problem-solving. It will also take longer to recover, and the longer it takes you to recover, the more of an impact it has on you and your family.
I’m not saying that medication is for everyone, but the facts show fairly clearly that once your depression has become moderate and certainly when it’s become severe, your brain is not functioning the way it ought to be – and that needs to be corrected just like there are times when your body has an infection and it can’t fight it by itself and needs the help of some antibiotics. It’s not very different. Neither am I saying that medication is a “cure all.” The reason Mothers Helpers offers a 10 week Postnatal Depression Recovery Course with two one-on-one sessions either side of it is because we recognise and research tells us that treating depression must be holistic to be successful.
When depression gets worse, our ability to problem-solve and make rational decisions reduces quite considerably. If you suffer from depression, this is the reason why you need to ask for help. From my own experience, once depression reaches a certain point it is impossible to get out of that hole without help.
This lovely mother was at the point where it was difficult to reason with her. Her depression was such that she regularly thought of suicide. I tried to say to her “you’re refusing medication at what cost? This might cost you your family, you are likely to get more and more unwell, it might even cost you your life!” She wouldn’t listen. It was so hard to watch things deteriorate for her. A year ago today I learned that she had been admitted to hospital against her will for psychosis – which is the risk we take when our depression goes untreated for so long and gets worse and worse. Today I learned of her (suspected) suicide attempt.
The news is tragic and heartbreaking – especially for her family and young children. I am so sorry that I wasn’t able to get through to her – that she didn’t get treatment earlier.
Appeal for Change: The Need for Early Intervention
Mothers Helpers is lobbying government and approaching health services so that we can provide early intervention to mothers before they get severely depressed and hopefully prevent depression from occurring in the first place. My hope is that we will be able to prevent tragedies like this – that we’ll be able to save the lives of these women by providing them with help and support to recover. And that we’ll reduce the impact depression has on their families who suffer too.
If you are struggling with depression/anxiety, please, I urge you to get some help. Mothers Helpers is available to provide you with that help, information and support. In one of our first sessions in our course we talk about medication so that you can make an informed decision.
Take care of yourself – by taking care of yourself, you are taking care of your family too.
If this story has affected you and you would like to talk to someone immediately, contact:
Lifeline 0800 543 354
If you would like to speak to Mothers Helpers about getting help for your depression, call us on 0800 002 717 or fill in the Request Help form