"I had no idea it could last for years"
A Parent24 reader shares her experience with postnatal depression.

Parent24 published an extract from Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille's new book Not Without a Fight.

A reader shares her thoughts in response to the article, Helen Zille on her postnatal depression: "How could having a baby be so hard?" 

"Yes, I had postnatal depression. With my second child. I did not know about postnatal depression - I thought it was a term used to describe 4th-day-after-birth baby blues. I had no idea that it could last for years, or what depression really was. I assumed depression meant you wanted to commit suicide so I discounted it immediately, as I did not feel suicidal. 

"After 14 months of mood-swings, marital stress and becoming sick and tired of my own irrational behaviour, I made an appointment with my GP. I blurted out everything and waited for him to tell me I was being irrational or a self-indulgent hypochondriac of sorts.

"Instead he sympathised with me and explained to me that I had all the symptoms of PND and prescribed an anti-depressant for me. He explained how a shortage of serotonin can cause my symptoms and took blood for a full range of tests.

"My relief was indescribable. I was not insane. I was not losing my mind. I had a real illness and there was a treatment for it.

"Within days, my husband said he felt like he was getting back the woman he fell in love with and married. I had my third child without any depression, bar the baby blues a few days after his birth.

"I do not cope with stress too well and suffer from panic attacks when overwhelmed with work and stress and life. So I will probably always be on anti-depressants and thyroid medication.

"Since being diagnosed with an under-active thyroid three months ago and taking medication for it, I have felt almost the same as I remember feeling like before I had my second baby. Sixteen years is a long time, but I am grateful for all the lessons I have learned from depression.

"I have a much deeper compassion and understanding of others who may be suffering with depression and I have a very real sense of humility that I never had before.

"When you have hit rock bottom with despair, stress, anxiety and fear, a more humble and non-judgemental heart is the positive result."

Have you suffered from postnatal depression? Did you know you were suffering from PND at the time? Did you get medical help and support from your family and a friends? How and when did you overcome your depression? Share your stories with us by emailing chatback@parent24.com and we may share your story.

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