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Petrina's Story
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Twenty-two years ago, I was introduced to my black dog. At the time, I didn't know who he was; instead, I put it down to what pregnancy felt like. Yet, just five days after becoming a mum, my black dog barked loudly and consistently.    

The black dog brought me dark thoughts, no appetite and eyes I didn't recognise in the mirror. But I wasn't willing to accept that I was stuck with him. Mental illness didn't happen to me.

Fast forward four of the longest months, and I begrudgingly accepted him for the short term. Medication kept him at bay, and I could forget he ever existed.

Two and a half years later, I was reminded he hadn't ever left. My second child and my second taste of postnatal depression. But this time, I knew who he was and how to put him back in his box. While I was devastated that the black dog was back, I held the keys to his chain this time. Medication and counselling allowed me to enjoy my newborn in a way I'd never known.

Ten years later, life gave me the chance to have the third child I'd always wanted but was too scared to have. She is a beautiful sister to her two big brothers. However, this time, the black dog was more cunning. He snuck in gradually and was assisted by inferior mental health services.

Being told I was "not sick" by the people who were meant to help me was devastating. The medication that previously worked was no longer effective. Despite the efforts of family and friends, I honestly thought this was when the black dog would bite. The extreme anxiety and panic attacks led to insomnia and a deep, downward spiral.

But there's one thing I've done since I reluctantly accepted my black dog many years ago: ask for help. In desperation, I tell everyone and anyone in the hope of healing. And for people who can't do this, my heart breaks.

But with the help of so many people, I was finally treated by a psychiatrist in Brisbane. A two-hour flight from my north Queensland home to the specialist care that saved me. Access to a vital health service that many can't navigate through or afford.

That was nine years ago. While I now know the black dog will never leave altogether, my combination of medication, exercise, and an alcohol-free life is one I am grateful for every single day.

I love you forever, Kelly, Dylan, and Skye xxx. You were the three best reasons for meeting my black dog.

Petrina's Story

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