By Mark Williams
If you had asked me in 2003 whether depression exists I couldn’t have told you an answer, until it came to my door the following year. It was after having a panic attack in the labour ward after thinking both my wife and unborn baby were going to die that something changed in me.
Birth Trauma in Men – I couldn’t tell anyone how I was feeling
My wife Michelle went on to have severe postnatal depression and should have been in a mother and baby unit for her own safety, but I gave up work to look after them. The next few months changed my own mental health and I was becoming depressed myself. I was starting to worry about how we were going to pay the mortgage. Being self-employed I was earning nothing. I couldn’t tell anyone how I was feeling as I didn’t want it to impact on Michelle’s health.
I was having suicidal thoughts daily
My personality totally changed around the 4 to 5 month mark after the baby was born. I became angry, drinking more and isolating myself from others too. I was having suicidal thoughts daily and was thinking I wasn’t good enough to be a dad. See, I didn’t get that overwhelming feeling of love I was expecting after my son was born. My own bonding and attachment got better due to me being home for the first six months. But after Michelle got treatment and was better, I found it hard because it was the first time I could relax, resulting in me feeling low in mood.
For years, I was the same happy-go-lucky guy, but after other events, losing my grandfather and my mother being diagnosed with cancer in the space of weeks, I finally couldn’t cope and had the Breakdown in 2011.
All parents need support
It was the start of my own recovery and I started campaigning that year. I soon became a public speaker and founder of the then charity “Fathers Reaching Out”. I was soon on television and radio campaigning for support during the postnatal period for all parents.
One piece of advice I can give you is a simple one that I wish I’d known for years. The quicker you speak out and get the help, the quicker the recovery.