have you briefly thought about seeing a health professional, such as a psychologist to help you with your postnatal depression? But instead of going this stepped you quickly skipped the idea again?
This was me a couple of months ago. And there were many reasons why I didn’t want to go. Not even wanted to consider this option. The following were my thoughts:
It is not that bad – I have good and bad days but I can manage this myself
- Yes, I had good and happy days, but mainly bad, sad, angry and moody days and this over weeks and months. It didn’t improve.
I don’t want to talk about it – It just makes it real and makes me feel worse every time I try.
- It is true, initially, it was very hard for me to talk about it. And there was plenty of crying involved. But every time I talked about it (with my husband, then my close family and then friends and now my psychologist) – it is getting better every time.
People will judge me and think I am crazy
- Actually, everyone I talked to about my mental health, was supportive and encouraging. And I learnt that some of my friends and family members did also seek help from a psychologist before, so this is not as uncommon as I thought.
It is too expensive – we are already struggling financially since I am not yet back at work
- Tip: In Australia, you get great reductions on psychological treatments, as this is supported by the government.
As mentioned before, I have denied over months that I have depressions after my baby was born. I was so angry all the time and blamed my husband for putting me in this situation. I was behaving so badly, I didn’t recognise myself anymore. And all I wanted is a happy family for my baby boy.
After reading into my symptoms and learning that I have postnatal depression (read about my detailed story here) I started to open up. First to my husband and later to family and friends.
Where do I start?
You may be ready to get professional help. Or are you not quite sure yet if this will be the right option for you? You may want to know your options first. If you live in Australia, the first step is to just see your trusted General Practitioner (GP) and just mention how you feel and be honest.
It was hard for me to start speaking with someone (who doesn’t belong to my close friends or family) about my feelings, my worries and my mood swings including how badly it affects my relationship to my husband
But my GP was great in discussing my options. And we both – together – decided it will be good for me to talk about all this with a health professional, in my case a psychologist and go from there.
My GP and I worked on a ‘Mental Health Treatment Plan’ and referred me to one of their psychologists. As I didn’t know any, I went with their suggestion.
First Attempt – No Success
I have been to two sessions with this suggested psychologist. I went when my baby was 3 months old and the second session was 4 weeks after.
So, in the first session, I was sitting in her room and had to tell my story to this stranger. It didn’t feel right at that time. While I was telling her my deepest worries and struggles, I only had the feeling that she was judging me.
It was like in the movies. The psychologist sitting in her chair, looking at you, nodding in between and writing down notes from time to time. No smile or any sort of empathy.
At least, this is what I felt. I had no connection to this particular psychologist. It felt like she was only doing her job, but it was as if she didn’t care at all if she is helping me or not.
So after the second session, I stopped going.
I didn’t have the feeling it is of any help.
Afterwards, I am thinking, I was just not yet ready to open up. And I didn’t believe it would help anyway.
Also, in between those two sessions, I have been to Baby Sleep School and was already sleeping better and feeling better. So I thought no point in going but I was convinced that I probably only had severe sleep deprivation and that from now on I will be getting better anyway.
But the months passed and I was still feeling depressed.
Second Attempt With a Different Psychologist – Finally a Success
When my baby was around 7 months old (so 3 months after I have been to the first psychologist) I have been back to see my GP. I wasn’t there to talk about my experience with the first psychologist and actually just needed a referral to another doctor, not related to this.
But thanks to my GP, who didn’t give up on me, she brought up the topic about my mental health again. And I told her that a psychologist is just not for me. My GP then told me something I have not thought about before:
I needed a psychologist who was the right match for my personality. The first one wasn’t the right person for me. Switching to another would be an option. But keep in mind she may also not be the right one and I may have to switch again.
So, today I went to see the second lady my GP recommended. And wow, this was a completely different experience. Maybe it was because I was finally ready to give this a real chance or because I knew what I was to expect from going to a psychologist as I have been to the previous one but – I felt instantly comfortable talking to her.
I was only in for 2 minutes and I started to cry while telling her my story. This didn’t happen with the previous one either. Still, that was surprising but in a way good as it means I am opening up.
She gave me a couple of great tips to start with and will see her again in 2 weeks. Let’s see how this will continue.
Seeing a psychologist may not be the answer for everyone with depressions but I can only say that it is helping me a great deal.
If you feel like you want to talk to someone professionally but you are not ready to talk to someone one on one, maybe talk to a support organisation like beyondblue. You can simply give them a call, send an email or chat online.