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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 18 October, 2019
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'I turned to my husband Niall and asked if we could bring the baby back to the hospital'

New mum Nicola Fallon speaks of her experience suffering from post-natal depression.

Nicola Fallon

WHEN I FIRST got sick, I don’t think I was fully aware of just how bad it really was.

One night, not long after I came home from hospital after having Louis, I turned to my husband Niall and asked if we could bring him back to the hospital and leave him there.

He thought I was joking and laughed; but I wasn’t, I was being serious.

Louis, who is now four, is our only son and came along quickly after we got married.

In fact, I found out just before our honeymoon that I was pregnant. I was thrilled, I loved being pregnant and experienced a dream pregnancy. Throughout the pregnancy I was fit and active.

Unfortunately, things went downhill very quickly. Following a difficult birth, I struggled to breastfeed and adjust to life with our new baby. When I came home, I just knew I didn’t feel right.

People I spoke to just said ‘that’s the baby blues and it’ll be fine’. But it felt worse than what I thought the baby blues should feel like.

I didn’t want to leave the house and was feeling resentful towards Louis. It came to a point where I felt like something bad was going to happen and that I wasn’t safe to be at home.

I felt I wasn’t even safe to be around my baby. I was experiencing symptoms of post-natal depression but the symptoms didn’t feel like I would’ve expected. So I didn’t really recognise it fully until Louis was six months old, at which point it became serious.

One night I spoke with Niall about what I was feeling and the following day I went to see my doctor.

I was initially referred to Galway Hospital Psychiatric Unit, where I was diagnosed with Post Natal Psychosis, which is quite rare, affecting one in 500 new mums.

After a tough month, where there wasn’t much change in me, Niall contacted Laya healthcare to check our cover.

They were very sensitive to what was happening, how serious it was, and at that stage I was transferred to St Patrick’s in Dublin.

During my hospitalisation, I wasn’t able to see Louis for the first three of those six months as I was considered a danger to not only myself, but also my baby.

I left my husband at home with a teething baby, and later came home to a toddler.

While at St Patrick’s, I received fantastic support and help, and have thankfully made a full recovery.

When I came home after six months, Louis was quite detached from me. It was like I was a stranger to him, which was really difficult, and that got to me.

I found that very difficult to deal with, but over time we did get our bond and it’s stronger now than ever. We’re just stuck to each other. We’re best buddies.

Post-natal depression can come in so many different forms and new mums really need to listen to their gut and instinct.

When you feel like something’s not right, you need to tell someone. Honesty is important when you’re not feeling well. Family and your community are important and will rally round when they’re needed most.

I am a huge advocate of caring for, and looking after your mental health, in the same way as you would your physical health – staying fit and active, sea swimming with my Kinvara Traught Mermaids, a supportive circle of female friends who swim in the open sea near my home all year long.

I love to sketch and draw, a life-long passion I actually rediscovered when I was sick in hospital, and I also regularly practice yoga with Louis.

I’m sharing my story so that other mums who may find themselves in a similar situation will reach out if they’re not feeling themselves. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with calling out for help.

Nicola Fallon wanted to share her experience of post-natal depression ahead of World Mental Health day tomorrow. 

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Nicola Fallon

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