Still I didn’t really talk to my husband.
He took our son to nursery the next morning.
I decided to ring in sick. I sat on the floor next to my bed sobbing uncontrollably.
Then two weird things happened.
First, my phone rang. I had forgotten that I had texted a friend to tell her that I was expecting a son. She called to check how I was feeling after receiving the news.
Horrified by the realization that I was in a really bad way she got in touch with a member of her family who happened to be a midwife and sought out some advice on my behalf.
The second thing was that after leaving our son at nursery, my husband realized that he hadn’t put his wedding ring back on after bath time the previous night. Not liking to be without it he decided to pick it up from home before making the journey to work.
He discovered me in a snotty, disheveled, breathless mess.
I don’t think I have ever been happier to see him.

Less than an hour later the community midwife was sitting on the end of my bed while my husband paced anxiously in the next room.
I couldn’t face leaving my bed or even switching on the light.
She was kind and she REALLY listened.
I feared that she wouldn’t understand or that she would misinterpret what I was saying. I was deeply concerned that I would be deemed an unfit mother and that social services would be summoned to take away my eldest son and seek to claim my unborn baby when he arrived.
I tried to explain the love I felt for my unborn child and the paradox that despite all things pointing to a disillusioned woman regretting a pregnancy, that somehow that wasn’t at the core of the problem. The issue was not about bonding with a second son but something deeper and more primal.
The crux of the matter was that the depression predated the pregnancy so while I was experiencing the same concerns any pregnant woman has, that these were the sugar frosting to the real issues at play.
She listened to me try, and fail, to express myself for over an hour patiently picking apart what I was saying and giving no hint of frustration or judgement.
When I finished speaking she said,
“You have come to a crisis point and you need help”.

The next step was a second emergency appointment with my GP to discuss my position and increase my medication. My midwife rang the surgery on my behalf to arrange this and outlined the situation in advance. She also reached out to various services available to support people with mental health issues as a means of securing me more long term help. In addition, to ensure better continuity of care, she made a commitment to take me on herself and conduct my antenatal appointments at home.
This woman was truly a godsend.
However, she was also responsible for setting in motion a domino effect with me as a metaphorical pass the parcel between agencies.
While I was waiting to see my GP I had a bit of a dilemma; how much to share or withhold from my husband. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to involve him or that I was being intentionally secretive, but I had known this was coming and delayed taking action because I couldn’t find a means of expressing myself and opening up to the professionals there to help. I worried that even though I had now started the process that I might not be able to frame my thoughts into words with a professional let alone if my husband was listening.
One thing I was certain of was that I couldn’t say it all twice so I let him come into the room with me but he sat behind me out of my line of sight.
He was shocked.
But at least he knew.
My medication was increased and my GP set about making the necessary referrals.

Later in the day at my husband’s suggestion I called my Mum. We are really close and speak most nights on the phone yet there are aspects of my life we have not spoken about at length – my mental health being one of them.
She was horrified.
When I told her about my dark and intrusive thoughts she just said,
“No you don’t, no you didn’t, no, no”
An hour later she was in the airport waiting for the next flight to come see me.
She ended up staying for 3 weeks. This meant I was never alone, I had support with the children, space to conduct the telephone consultations and meet health care professionals, she got me out of the house and was a shoulder to cry on when I was particularly low.”

I mentioned previously that I struggled to ask for help. I didn’t know how to express my feelings let alone untangle them. I was pretty private about my mental health issues as I was ashamed of my lack of control over my intense emotions.
Absolutely the last thing I wanted to do was talk to ANYONE.
I knew I had reached a point where this was no longer an option and to overcome my depression I had to face it head on.
But this involved people.
In the days immediately after my breakdown I was overloaded by a team of people all clamoring for information.
Early on I received a phone call from a health visitor. She had a heavy accent which I couldn’t place and truth be told at the time of the call I didn’t know who she represented, although I believed she was a counsellor and I assumed she had been briefed on my situation.
So we started at the beginning.
We had a lengthy conversation during which she reduced me to tears. I didn’t understand why she wasn’t getting it, she kept telling me to calm down and seemed disarmed by my distress.
She came to my house armed with dozens of leaflets about ‘Bonding with Your Baby’.
I was nearly hysterical as I recreated the conversation I had already had with my midwife only days earlier. The health visitor was clearly totally unprepared and had no idea what she was walking into. She left having achieved nothing except adding to my distress, still clutching her precious leaflets after suggesting that I needed to see a counsellor.
The crisis line also called.
So we started at the beginning.
They ran through a series of questions to assess the immediate threat and asked for an overview of my circumstances. Once again I raked up the emotional turmoil and relived every second in agonizing detail.
I was given a number to ring if I was in crisis and an address for a drop in center. But having established that I was unlikely to attempt suicide in the imminent future they suggested that I needed to see a counsellor.
Next I received a call from a psychiatric team for a telephone assessment of my suitability to be seem by a psychiatrist.
So we started at the beginning.
I was placed on a list to be seen by a local psychiatrist.

When I met Dr. S I immediately felt a sense of relief.
He was the first person who seemed to hear me. He got beneath the pregnancy and identified the existential heart of my inner conflict. Through discussion it was easy to see how the pregnancy could trigger such thoughts.
We met a couple of times and I felt that with him, I could make progress.
But only a few sessions in he said he felt I needed either CBT (which I immediately dismissed) or long term talking therapy. He prepared to make the referrals and told me that he would be discharging me.
It was like being slapped hard in the face.
I felt such a sense of rejection.
Dr. S reluctantly agreed to keep me on until I was settled with a counsellor.

Of course another phone assessment was required to assess my situation before a recommendation could be made and I could be placed with a suitable counsellor.
So we started at the beginning.
I was mentally exhausted by the rollercoaster of emotions every time I came into contact with a new agency or professional. Each time I had to go back and relive the darkest nights of my life and each time took its toll.
I was cried out, totally drained and losing faith with the system.
But I persevered and eventually I ended up in the care of a counsellor.

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