I gave birth to a lovely boy in June 2013 after conceiving through IVF. After a month or so, my husband and I became concerned that I was showing signs of post-natal depression.
We had wanted this child so much that I became overwhelmed with the responsibility and the worry that something might happen to my son, and we didn’t have a huge family support network because my mum has advanced dementia.
The health visiting team was really good. Alison – my health visitor - did the Edinburgh assessment to find out about my anxiety and depression levels. I’m an analytical person, so I really wanted to unpick what was happening to me, and I wanted to be honest so that we could address any problems.
I had other problems like sleep deprivation as well which wasn’t helping. All of this built up and was impacting on my ability to enjoy this precious time with my son.
Alison came to talk through where I could get advice and counselling, and helped me look at treatment options. I went to see my GP and was referred for cognitive behavioural therapy. This was the best option for me because I wanted to carry on breastfeeding and didn’t want to take medication.
I was fast-tracked for face-to-face therapy. This was a real turning point and gave me the tools I needed to assess how I was feeling and look at my life.
I was fortunate enough to have a lot of follow-ups and a year on I’ve just finished counselling. The benefits of this have been life-changing and I feel like I’ve been able to reclaim myself.
One of the things I was struggling with was getting out. Alison helped me find a HomeStart volunteer who came once a week so we could go out together.
I felt so supported by my health visitors – they understood how I tick, spoke to me in the right way, listened to my concerns, and helped me dissect and analyse my condition.
Alison was there for my baby and for me. We talked a lot about preparing new mums for what is a huge change in life. And it hasn’t stopped here - I can pick up the phone anytime and talk to her. One of the most important things was being able to have the same health visitor and I asked if Alison could do my son’s one-year check-up and she understood the need for me to have continuity.
Sometimes, mental health issues are stigmatised, but health visitors and other professionals are there to help. My message to other parents is not to fear reaching out and asking for help. My health visiting service gave me the support I needed and helped me access other services which have put me back on the right track.