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Lisa's story
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My third and last pregnancy...

Already having two children, I thought I had this in the bag. I didn’t particularly enjoy being pregnant this time around, but knowing this was going to be my last pregnancy, I really wanted to soak it all in.

Then my Nanna passed away about a week before I gave birth. Thanks to COVID-19 we couldn’t visit her or say goodbye. I distinctly remember the time she died.

I was driving to my parents’ house and I remember saying out loud that I loved her and it was okay for her to go. I knew as soon as I pulled up at their house she had passed away.

It’s such conflicting waves of emotion, grieving for a loved one while celebrating the birth of a loved one. The cycle of life in full force.

About a week after that we held a party for our middle child’s 5th birthday. I didn’t want him to feel left out and at that time I still felt like I could do it all. I remember it was then I started fixating on every single little detail of our home. It all went downhill from there.

I remember having a bath with Beau. I was looking at him and felt nothing. I felt completely empty. I couldn’t look at him. I didn’t want to hold him. I then started having intrusive thoughts about hurting myself. Fleeting thoughts, but scary, nonetheless.

I was still catching up with friends, putting on a brave face, that everything was okay. But at home I was far from it. I felt like I should be grateful, I had an amazing husband, three beautiful boys and supportive family and friends. So why did I feel so empty?

There was a weekend we went camping with friends. I knew I shouldn’t have gone, but I thought it would do us some good. One afternoon we were at the park and Beau needed feeding. Breastfeeding hadn’t been going so well and I didn’t have a bottle. The park was full of people, and I started having a panic attack.

Our friends took our older boys while my husband and I took Beau for a walk. If my husband wasn’t there, I’m not sure what I would have done because I was convinced my family would have been better off without me.

After that I saw my GP and I let everything out. The tears would not stop, as hard as I tried. She was very concerned and referred me to Gidget House in Shellharbour. I was going to get the help I desperately needed.

In between that time and my first appointment, I was then open and honest with my family and friends of my diagnosis of PNDA. They supported me, loved me, and listened to me without judgement.

I am forever grateful for my amazing circle of support. I know others aren’t so lucky. My psychologist was incredible. She just listened while I poured my heart out. We discussed strategies, my experience, I started practising mindfulness, prioritised family time and started prioritising my own physical and mental wellbeing, because how can we look after others when we are struggling ourselves?

PNDA and mental illness does not define who you are. Beau recently turned two and during my recovery I would look at Beau, our happy beautiful boy and think how could I hold you and not feel anything but intense love? But this was my journey, and I am no longer ashamed of my experience. After opening up to those around me, I was blown away by the number of those who also said they struggled with their mental health after giving birth and this is why I wanted to share my story.

Opening up the conversation and removing the stigma can change and save a life. You are not alone.

Lisa's story

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