Stories of Hope: Kate Mountney

I knew I was doing something right and that he was happy.”

Our ‘Stories of Hope’ are back and this week we are talking to full-time Mum, Kate, who contacted us to share her experience of postnatal depression with her first child. Now a mum-of-two, she shares how she found help and support for her PND and how she manages her mental health now.

Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to this point?

“I am a full time mum of two, living in Birmingham. I experienced postnatal depression (PND) with my first born, but luckily not with my second.”

How has your mental health been affected by your journey?

“I’ve never really actively thought about my mental health before this. After struggling the first time round, I was adamant I didn’t want to try for a second. After a bit of a delay and after lots of thought, we decided to just go for it. I knew what could happen, and what triggers might affect me. I had my support network in place, and knew with their help we could face whatever life threw at us.”

How did you deal with this?

“I had a bit of a breakdown, which I think I needed, to realise that I wasn’t ok and needed help.”

What support did you seek?

“I was very honest with my GP about how I was feeling. I was prescribed (and still am) Sertraline and self-referred to a local organisation called Acacia Family Support, who specialise in helping those struggling with PND. They helped me see that there was nothing wrong with how I was feeling, and that it was more common than I realised. I also had help from my amazing hubby and friends and family.”

What did you find most useful on your personal mental health journey?

“Time. Time to acknowledge my feelings if not feeling great. Time to have some ‘me time’. I did journaling to get my feelings out in the open. I also did colouring and crafting. This gave me a focus and something for me.”

What were the moments of hope for you, in your own mental health journey?

“When Little-Man (my eldest child) started smiling and giggling. This was a big turning point, as I knew I was doing something right and that he was happy.”

How are you addressing your mental health now?

“As a second time mum, I know my triggers. I also made sure I made time for myself. During pregnancy I attended yoga classes and baby massage classes once Littlest-Man (my youngest child) was here. These are both run by the amazing Mandy over at Mother For Life. She focuses on creating a network of mothers helping mothers, and making ‘circles of safe spaces’ which are a great support.”

How easy do you think it is to access relevant mental health support?

“Luckily for me, Acacia was right on my doorstep. I had the same GP who checked in with me every few months too.”

Based on your personal experience, what changes do you think need to be made to the mental health system to ensure support is more relevant and accessible?

“More awareness. Knowing what I know now, I think my depression started during the pregnancy rather than after. I think there’s a lot of unrealistic expectations and pressures on new parents.”

What advice would you give to someone struggling with their mental health?

“Be honest. There’s no shame in needing help. You’re only human and can only do so much. You need to look after yourself as much as looking after others.”

If you, today, could speak to yourself at your lowest point, what would you tell yourself?

“During the start of my PND struggles, on one of my good days I actually wrote myself a letter. Sometimes you hear encouragement and praise from others, but it feels like they have to say those things. By handwriting it to yourself, you are reminding yourself that a bad day doesn’t make you a bad parent, and that soon the good days will outnumber the bad.”

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