Mark Williams tells Mojomums about his personal experience of coping with his wife’s post natal depression and the devestating knock on effects for him.
In 2004 we were looking forward to our first child, and everything up to the birth went really well. But after over 20 hours of labour, I became very anxious and worried for the safety of my wife and unborn child. It was when the doctors came in with what looked like to me fear, I had my first and only panic attack to date. It was down to the fact my wife Michelle had to have a c-section, I didn’t know what to expect. After my son came into the world, I didn’t get the instant loving feeling that so many fathers always told me. I love my son more than life itself now, I don’t know whether it wasn’t a natural birth I couldn’t tell you. But today even after nearly 9 years, if I see a woman expecting I feel glad its not us.
When my wife found out it was post natal depression,I couldn’t understand it and thought it might be me was the reason she was down. I like so many people was so uneducated about mental health, didn’t know anything about depression. Within weeks my world became isolated and felt more of a carer than a husband. I went from a bubbly outgoing person to someone who was withdrawn and didn’t want to bother with anyone.
When my wife was in bed I would often drink to block things out. My spend habits were now costing me a fortune, it was like I didn’t care and it give me the lift I needed. My mood was snappy, and at one stage I broke my hand when I punched the sofa out of character. My eating habits were I would eat and didn’t care less, also I couldn’t hold down my job which involved targets.
I found the isolation was the hardest, not being able to tell anyone due to the stigma of mental health. Its harder when its post natal depression because people know it should be a happy time and ask why should you be sad. Not being able to talk and not knowing how long until my wife would become better was really hard. My drinking was a way to set myself free for a few hours, but felt even worse in the morning. I couldn’t tell my wife, as I was afraid it may set her recovery back and that would have made me worse. So I just carried on, and at one stage was rocking back and fore in the rocking chair in a total daze.
After being treated for depression in 2011, those days were much harder. I know the spending was a way of giving me a lift, and my drinking was a issue at the time. No one ever asked me how I was feeling, and couldnt tell anyone due to fear of people knowing my wife was being treated with post natal depression which effects 70,000 being treated and 35,000 per year suffer in silence(metro 2013) That the hardest thing with depression, people put a brave face on to mask what they really thinking. Due to stigma people want to hide, and like me pretend it doesn’t happen.
Mark Williams is the founder of http://www.fathersreachingout.com/ which supports fathers and families of post natal depression.