Gill’s story (Aberdeenshire)
Postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is under recognised and under discussed. Many women find childbirth traumatic but have few outlets for these feelings and little opportunity to talk about their experiences, as the prevailing opinion seems to be “a healthy baby is all that matters”.
I want to let other mums know that they’re not alone in how they feel, that they and their mental health matter, and they deserve to be well and happy.
Finally diagnosed correctly
It was five months after the birth of my daughter that I finally admitted that I needed help. Originally, I was misdiagnosed with postnatal depression and prescribed anti-depressant medication. As I disagreed with the diagnosis, I did not take the medication and pressed for a second opinion.
After the subsequent assessment, I was told I had a complex PTSD and referred to a psychologist. It was only then, more than one year after giving birth to my daughter, that I started to receive the specialist perinatal mental health support I needed.
Rural location creates challenges
My psychological treatment was incredibly helpful. I took part in talking therapy, had EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) and Schema therapy. But I do despair that it took so long to access the right support for me.
In part, I think this is due to living in rural Aberdeenshire. As well as NHS services being stretched, we are also underserved by the third sector and in addition can’t easily connect with peer support services.
I’m lucky, I eventually received the right perinatal treatment, but some women aren’t even being diagnosed. This is why I share my story; to raise awareness that perinatal mental health problems can happen to anyone and call for better specialist support.
If the content of this story causes you to think of anything that has happened to you or someone you know and you feel upset, worried or uncomfortable, please see our support page for a list of services who may be able to help.