Real Life

REAL LIFE: "How I beat postnatal depression, twice!"

''Having kids sent me to the depths of despair, but I’m
stronger because of it.''

By Courtney GReatrex

Josephine Smyth, 39, Melbourne, Vic shares her story:

With my bags packed by the front door, 
I quickly 
nipped to the bathroom.
"I'll be two minutes," 
I shouted to my new husband, Hugh.
We were about to jet off 
on our honeymoon but 
I'd realised that my period was late. Wanting to rule out pregnancy, I quickly took

a test before the taxi arrived.
When two minutes passed, I picked up the test and let out a yelp. There, looking back at me, were two blue lines. What?
"Are you okay?" Hugh called through the door.
Unable to keep it in, I opened it and handed him the test. Gleefully, he picked me up and spun me around.
"We're going to be parents!" he said, beaming.
We'd discussed trying for 
a baby on our honeymoon, and although I was hoping 
to enjoy a few wines as we made our way across the USA, I was delighted that 
our beautiful miracle had arrived early!
As the months rolled 
by, my pregnancy progressed and I felt fantastic.
But back at home, 
I was daunted by the task ahead of me.
What if there are complications? 
I worried.
Thankfully, our little boy Leo was born weighing 3.1kg and a picture of health.
"Hey, my son," I smiled as 
I held him in my arms for the first time.
Three days later, we were able to take him home. We enjoyed four blissful days together with Hugh before 
he had to return to work.
I loved taking Leo out 
to the park for walks, and sharing the world with my little boy.
But as the weeks rolled by, things got tough as fatigue took hold of me.
Is he too hot? Is his nappy on too tight? 
I started to fret about everything.
Google was my best friend as I navigated being a first-time mum.
I kept my worries to myself, ashamed that people would think badly of me. But my anxiety escalated as the days rolled by.
Eventually, I lost my confidence completely and gave up taking Leo out for walks.
When Hugh left for work in the mornings, 
I snapped the curtains 
shut and stayed in all day, becoming a recluse.
My beautiful kids, Leo 
and Lily. (Image: Supplied)
Hugh would come home 
to find me teary-eyed and exhausted.
"Do you think you should visit the doctor and see what's going on?" he suggested one day. "I'm worried about you."
"Yeah," I nodded.
Soon after, I visited 
my local GP feeling apprehensive about sharing my problems. I filled out 
a questionnaire and waited for her
"You're suffering from postnatal depression," she explained and my eyes grew wide. "The good news is that this is extremely treatable."
She explained 
a plan that included medication, visiting 
a psychiatrist and psychologist along with introducing more self care.
I started practicing yoga which helped me to relax, joined a mothers' group for support and even overhauled my diet to ensure I was eating more nutritious meals.
As the weeks rolled by, the fog started to clear and I was feeling better again. I could bond better with Leo, too. It felt incredible!
I started documenting my experience on a blog called Smiling After PND, and it was 
great to connect with other women who had gone through what I had.
Our family – 
I want to help others now. (Image: Supplied)
Three years later, we decided it was time to 
give Leo a sibling and it wasn't long before I was pregnant again.
My pregnancy went without a hitch and nine months later, I gave birth to our daughter, Lily. Things were easier the second time around as I already knew what to expect.
The only difference was when she was around three months, Lily struggled to settle at night. I spent hours trying to sooth my screaming bub. That, combined with chasing after a toddler took its toll.
Eventually, sleep deprivation got the better 
of me and I started to fall 
into the depths of despair. 
I knew it was time to visit the doctor again.
"I think I'm suffering 
with postnatal depression," 
I said and she smiled understandingly. I started my recovery plan again, 
and was able to bounce 
back much quicker with 
the right support.
Having experienced postnatal depression twice, 
I knew I wanted to help other women going through it.
"I finally feel like I've 
found my calling in life," 
I said to Hugh.
I turned Smiling After PND into a business and now use my platform to support struggling families.
My online network hosts workshops to educate people, and we even have 
a line of tea bags to help promote conversation on 
the topic over a cuppa.
Now, I see my experience as a badge of honour and as challenging as it was, I'm grateful for going through it.
It's made me a healthier, happier and stronger mum, and I'm so glad I can use that to help others.
To find out more, visit smilingafterpnd.com

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