Welcome to my weekly blog series which is looking at how becoming a parent impacts upon emotional wellbeing, from the extreme highs of having a baby to the baby blues, post-natal depression and everything in between. I opened the series with my own story, then each week guest bloggers will take to the stage and give their experiences. I really hope that through publishing a diverse range of stories

we can lift the lid on emotional and mental health and show that it’s not as clear-cut as either being fine or being depressed, so that other parents may be able to feel more confident to reach out for support if they need it. You can find a list of all the posts from the series here.

This week’s guest post is from Gemma of Mammy Red Head, who is talking about her battle to get support as she battles postnatal depression.

“I’m a married Mam of two beautiful children with a supportive husband and family, I’ve red hair I am 5ft 6inch and dropping rapidly in size due to what I’m calling the “postnatal depression diet”.  I was told this week after yet another attempt at getting help that “Sure you look great, you don’t look like there’s anything wrong with you”

This begs the question “What am I supposed to look like”? My children are three and half and fifteen months old, my husband works a stressful busy job and works long hours. I have to get out of bed every day to care for my children, I have to slap a smile on my face and make believe for my children till they go to sleep that mammy is ok. I am sure at times I don’t fool my son but we have a hug and go back to playing Lego and my little girl is always up for joining in on hugs. My parents and brother are there for me too they also work busy jobs with long hours. Maybe they can tell what PND looks like they see me every day, and keep me going every day.

I have a good supportive doctor who at the stage where I should have gone back to work signed me off on stress and referred me to be seen by the mental health nurse as I was continually in and out to him saying I didn’t feel right. The mental health nurse came to my home and half way through my assessment said to me “I’m not going to complete this assessment, you are just are overly stressed”. But as I explained some of my issues to her including issues my husband deals with she said “Sure we will get him help instead and then you’ll be ok?”  I was told I could call her if I needed to speak to her again, I’ve tried her numerous times and nothing, dead end.

I continued to go in and out to my GP who tested me for everything under the sun as I was getting really bad joint pains which turned out to be stress-related. Countless times I would look up symptoms of PND on the internet and I would nearly tick all of them; My marriage was crumbling, my temper was in bits, I was an emotional wreck, I knew I loved my kids but at times I just wanted to run away and hide. I’d been seen my the mental health nurse she’d said I was fine, I mustn’t have had the ‘look’. What more could my GP do than say come in if you need to?

A week before my daughter’s first birthday I just hit my wall totally and went back to my GP. He wasn’t there so I saw a different GP and explained things to her, I fell apart in the surgery. The GP put me on Lexapro which in all honesty I feel are been dolled out like smarties. I have been on the Lexapro since the last week of February and I am pleading since then to be seen my some sort of therapist, it’s fine been given medication but you need therapy alongside the pills. My GP has referred me to relevant persons and I’m on a list. I have tried any avenue I can think of and this is difficult as part of having PND makes it really difficult to build up the courage to step outside of your comfort zone, which to me is my home, and to go and ask for help.  There have been three major times where I’ve thought ‘Right, I’ve got somewhere here well done you” and I’ve waited for the letter with an appointment to see a therapist and when it gets to Friday and rolls into another weekend I just think well there goes that effort, guess you’re going be stuck feeling like this.

I know in the pit of my stomach I wouldn’t feeling like this forever I just can’t. Postnatal depression is horrible and myself and my family are been left to deal with it, but what gets me through my days when the referral letter doesn’t come? It’s seeing my precious son running to me with a daisy from the garden smiling his big smile, my daughter waddling to me as she’s learning to walk and smiles that beautiful smile. My husband, Mam, Dad, Brother and a few special true friends letting me lean on them when I need to.

What does post natal depression look like? It’s a Mam young or old, walking with her children smiling, frowning, laughing, crying, showing emotion or not, having a cup of coffee in Costa, standing in the cue in Penny’s. It’s a tall, small, any size, any colour lady, with blond, red, brown, multi-coloured hair.

You get where I’m going here post natal depression looks like you and me . . .”

I think Gemma’s final few sentences there really sum it up. PND can hit anyone, irrespective of you age, size, ethnicity, history. It’s awful that Gemma has had to fight so hard for support and I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing her the very best of luck moving forward. If you would like to show Gemma some love and support, you can find her over on her blog, Mammy Red Head, and onFacebook.

Please come back next week to read the next guest post in the series and if you would like to tell your story, feel free to email me on hannah@buddingsmiles.co.uk. If you don’t want to feature but have something to say about any of the issues covered, please do leave a comment below or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.