Mum admits she considered giving her new baby to someone else during her dark PND battle, just so she could feel better.
Just five days after giving birth to her daughter eight years ago, Shannon Rhook knew she was struggling to cope.
‘I had no appetite, my hands kept shaking, I kept getting waves of panic coming over my body, accompanied by hot flashes [and] sweating,’ she told FEMAIL.
‘My mind was racing with panicked thoughts and even the most basic tasks felt impossible for me, it was debilitating.
‘I felt quite empty and struggled to feel an emotional attachment to my daughter in particular. I didn’t think I could cope with the demand of being a parent every day,’ she added.
Ms Rhook said she was in a ‘constant state of panic’ and contemplated giving her daughter away so she could be cared for properly.
‘I felt so desperate that I had thought maybe if I gave Sophie to someone else to look after, until I felt better, that it would help,’ she said.
Shannon visited the Emergency department and several doctors before she called the Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia (PANDA) hotline.
PANDA told me about a mother baby unit in Sydney called St John of God Hospital,’ she said.
‘I was admitted to the hospital with Sophie when she was eight-days-old. We spent the next six weeks in hospital.’
Ms Rhook said medication and her family’s support helped her overcome the difficult times and care for her newborn baby.
‘It took me around eight months to feel better, I think this was due to being a first time Mum, so it took me much longer to adjust to my new role,’ she explained.
Shannon also experienced PND with her second baby earlier this year.
She is encouraging other new mothers to seek help.
‘I think the stigma surrounding mental health prevents women from speaking out,’ she said. ‘When you are living with it, every day feels like an eternity,’ she added.
‘The more you support the person who is unwell, the quicker their recovery will be and the less scary the ordeal is.’
Currently one in seven women giving birth in Australia are affected by postnatal depression.
Signs of PND can include panic attacks, persistent, generalised worry, development of obsessive or compulsive behaviours, abrupt mood swings, feeling constantly tired, withdrawing from friends, difficulty focusing, feeling constantly sad or crying for no reason and having thoughts of death or suicide.
If you’re struggling, call PANDA’s National Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Helpline on 1300 726 306.
A recent study found women keep quiet about their struggles to cope because they feel nurses focus more on the baby’s health than their own emotional well-being.
Kathy DiVincenzo openly shared her ongoing battle with postpartum depression, anxiety, and OCD. Read her story HERE.
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