Flash back to a just 18 year old me, at download festival, legally drinking, camping with friends and listening to amazing bands.
Waiting for me back in London my new older boyfriend and a new job in a pub which I loved. All in all I was feeling extremely grown up.
Little did I know I was about to have to grow up a lot more. I hadn’t been with then partner for very long, I found him exciting, he was troubled, a punk, had lots of friends and he was complicated and he made me feel less strange.
I have suffered with depression since I was a child, I remember having my first counselling session at the age of around 9, I can’t recall much of it, apart from drawing trees and the counsellor explaining to my parents that the size of the tree trunk was somehow relevant to how I was feeling.
Over the years I found ways of coping with my feelings and my anxiety, they weren’t the most productive ways of coping but it felt right.
I started to self-harm, I’d scream and shout and argue with my parents, trying so hard to get some sort of control of my feelings, desperate to just be normal and not constantly angry.
After returning from download festival, my Mum who knows me better than anyone else asked me if I might be pregnant, in the back of my mind I knew, but I was in denial.
My mum convinced me to do a pregnancy test; a couple of minutes and two tiny blue lines later my life changed completely.
My Mum and I spoke about my options, we cried and we cuddled.
Fast forward 12 months, the last year since turning 18 I had fell pregnant, gave up my job, gave birth to a beautiful tiny 6lb 7oz beautiful blue eyed, blonde haired baby girl.
Still living with my Mum and Dad and big brother except now with added boyfriend, who had over the last year turned from exciting to abusive, mentally not physically although the threat was there and sometimes I thought it would be easier.
It didn’t take much time to realise I was out of my depth.
If I went out with my girlfriends for dinner, I would get threats from him, the one time I dared to turn my phone off, I woke up to phone calls to let me know he had taken an overdose and cut his arms.
He refused to go to hospital or let anyone clean him up but me. The possessiveness and the name calling got worse (slut, bitch, whore, slag etc), I slowly started to change.
I was no longer a hot headed, stubborn, but funny and caring teenager, I was now constantly stressed, I dreaded waking up, but it wasn’t all down to my partner.
I couldn’t bond with my baby, I felt trapped, scared to be alone with her, felt I did everything wrong and was desperate to run away.
I never thought I would get post-natal depression, I denied it for years, I felt I was just a bad Mum.
When my daughter turned three months old, I built up the courage to end things with her Dad.
I felt relieved, sad, scared and happy all at the same time.
I was now on my own with this baby, a single teenage Mum, everything I didn’t want to be. There would be times when I would daydream about leaving a note and just walking away from my darling daughter, for her sake, I wasn’t what she needed.
She deserved better. I would have overwhelming feelings of being trapped, like somebody was literally sitting on my chest so I couldn’t move or breath, I carried this round for two and a half years.
I moved to Cheshire with my daughter and my new partner when she was 18 months old and spiralled deeper into my depression without the support of my family and friends.
I spoke to my mother in law about my feelings she is a counsellor and she referred me to get some help.
By this point my daughter was 2 and a half. I was pregnant with my second child and terrified at the thought of feeling that way about another one of my babies, terrified of not bonding with another baby.
I am so grateful that I was able to get the help needed. I’m now on anti-depressants and have been since my second daughter was born four years ago.
I did bond well with my youngest and have an extremely close relationship with both my girls.
It’s not always easy and my biggest regret is not getting help with my post-natal depression sooner, I feel constant guilt towards my eldest for not being a good enough Mum when she was a baby and the feeling I missed out on her precious first years will hurt forever.
I hope that one day Mothers won’t be fobbed off with having the ‘baby blues’, although I know that sometimes that is the case.
I believe post-natal depression should be spoken about and mothers should know that it’s not ‘normal’ to feel that way but it is also not their fault and it certainly doesn’t make them a bad Mother.
It just means that they may need support and guidance to help them on the way to being the best Mum they can be.