Thanks to a recent grant of £2,509 from the National Lottery Community Fund’s Awards for All small grants programme, the Bridgend based Fathers Reaching Out organisation will now be able to reach out to help more men whose wives or partners are suffering from post natal depression.
Fathers Reaching Out was set up by 38 year old Mark Williams from Bridgend in the wake of his own personal experiences of seeing his wife go through post-natal depression for two years after the birth of their son. This is his story . . .
In December 2004 my little boy was born. He was gorgeous. I couldn’t believe I was a Dad, it was an over whelming feeling. My wife had been in labour for a long time (20 hours) and eventually had a caesarean. When I was told she was having a caesarean I had a panic attack, something I’d never experienced before. After the birth, my wife was tired and wanted me to stay with her all the time. At the time I didn’t find this unusual as I just thought it was normal behaviour as she must have been exhausted and had received allot of drugs. I left the hospital and returned a couple of hours later with a teddy for my son. When I returned my wife was very clingy, which was very unusual. I knew then something was wrong.
We left the hospital after a couple of days and returned home. It was strange being home with a new baby to look after. My wife wasn’t herself.
The Health visitor came to visit regularly; she talked to us about postnatal depression. After a couple of weeks it became clear that my wife was suffering from this. She couldn’t sleep, didn’t want to eat and didn’t want any visitors. She was finding it very difficult to deal with everyday tasks. I thought, she can’t be suffering with that, she’s always happy, never gets down or depressed. I never really knew much about depression and didn’t understand it. I didn’t realise how she could be depressed when we had everything. I now realise that it doesn’t work like that. Depression can hit anyone. I tried everything to make my wife happy. Whatever she wanted I would buy. I remember walking through the shopping centre saying “you can have whatever you want”. All the money in the world wouldn’t have made a difference to my wife at that point. Depression is an illness, we had a new house, good jobs, lots of friends and family support yet it still happened. It doesn’t matter if you’re a millionaire or someone with no money at all depression can hit anyone.
The depression got so bad that she had to go back and forth to the hospital. I went from a social person to living in a bubble. I couldn’t tell my mates as I didn’t understand depression so how were they going to understand. I was afraid of what people would say. I was one of the people who dismissed mental health, but now it was part of my life. I soon had to go on leave from being a self-employed sales person to look after my wife and my lovely son. I had to look after the household tasks and bills which would normally be done by my wife. I found the isolation unbearable, I used to pretend to everyone that everything was alright. My mother-in law came to stay with us to help out, we also stayed with my parents sometimes. At one point I went off the rails, once I knew my wife and son were safe with family. I honestly felt like running away from the pressure cooker that I was living in 24 hours a day.
We look back now and know if we are having a bad day it can never be as bad as what we witnessed, trust me. Sometimes we would avoid going home in the day we found it better being out and about.
Depression is an illness and people shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it. My wife didn’t ask for it, our life was great. It happened like a switch going on.
There is a difference between baby blues and severe postnatal depression. There’s nothing worse than someone saying, “Oh my wife had that and got over it in a few days” when you have been going through it for months.
My message to everyone who is in suffering from post natal depression is, “Don’t suffer in silence”. It took about a year for my wife to recover fully. She is a fantastic Mum and my son is fully unaware of the issues we faced when he was younger.
To find out more about Fathers Reaching Out, visit www.fathersreachingout.com