I began suffering with ill mental health when I was at secondary school, due to a number of circumstances exacerbated by the general difficulties of being a teenager! Things deteriorated quite rapidly, and after becoming very unwell and attempting to end my life I was admitted to an adolescent psychiatric ward. That was ten years ago now, and although I have had many admissions since, tried most anti-depressants on the market and many different therapies, I can finally say that I am beginning to find some peace within myself.
In 2012 I found out I was pregnant with my little boy, who is now 2. Of course it was a difficult decision to know if I would be able to cope, I had recently been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, an illness which makes you extremely sensitive to emotions and prone to depressive episodes – this explained a lot of the problems I faced in my teens. I had support from local perinatal services throughout my pregnancy and through the first year of my son’s life. It is very hard to just turn off your emotions and of course where a baby brings joy into your life there are also times of stress, uncertainty and tribulations. I personally give myself a very hard time about my capabilities and suffer from huge amounts of guilt for not being the ‘perfect’ mother. I became quite severely depressed during the pregnancy and intermittently throughout my sons life, leading to more hospitalisations. I remember wishing that there was a baby group for mums who had mental health problems, as I found it quite hard socialising at other mum and baby groups, always wondering if people had noticed my self harm scars and were judging me. Of course it’s unlikely that they were, but knowing that I was not alone in my struggle would have been immensely helpful. That’s why I’ve joined together with some other lovely mums; we hope to take Lantern’s forward using our own experiences of mental illness to help others.
As my son approaches his second birthday, life is looking the best it has in a long time. I am back studying for a degree with The Open University, planning my wedding to my partner and generally enjoying life as much as possible. I still have days where I really struggle, either with my mood or parenting, or both as they do go hand in hand! I don’t want to pretend that things are perfect now at all, as whose life is? But to anyone reading this who is stuck in the darkest of places, please let me tell you that chances are you’re not alone and there is light at the end of the tunnel.