By Liana Jacob
THIS MUM admits that her postnatal depression got so bad she felt the urge to drive into a WALL with her daughter in the backseat to ‘take a break’ from motherhood and is now trying to spread awareness for the mental health condition.
In June 2018, former dental nurse and mum-of-two, Seanee Bennett (21) from Crieff, Scotland, began showing signs of pre-eclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterised by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ, usually the liver and kidneys. Two weeks later she gave birth to her daughter, Ariana at 37-weeks.
Two days after Ariana was born, Seanee began resenting being a mother and would often snap at her son, Milo (2) out of the blue as she felt overwhelmed with having to take care of two children. She got frustrated whenever Ariana cried and used to think she was doing it deliberately.
She constantly felt like a ‘bad mother’ and would cry herself to sleep every night. She finally hit breaking point when she was on the way to pick up her boyfriend, Brendan, from work and Ariana was sitting in the back of the car while Milo was with her parents. She saw a brick wall in front of her and had the urge to drive directly into it until she saw her daughter through her rear-view window.
This was a wake-up call for her and she realised she had to speak to someone about her feelings. She was officially diagnosed with postnatal depression (PPD) in August 2018 and was prescribed anti-depressants which she has to take until April 2019.
Her experiences with her mental health as a new mum motivated her to share her journey on social media as a way to cope with her struggles. She now wants to spread the message that is normal to not feel OK sometimes.
“Shortly after having Ariana I realised that I didn’t feel the same way I felt after having Milo. Initially I put it down to the fact that she was my second child and so the situation wasn’t as new and exciting as it was with Milo,” Seanee said.
“However, I realised that I was snapping often at Milo; even when he would ask me for a cuddle, I shouted at him because I felt so overwhelmed with having two kids.
“I didn’t even want to hug him and then I would realise what I was doing and cry because I felt guilty. With Ariana I couldn’t stand to hear her cry.
“Even now I still find myself getting frustrated at her, although not as bad as it was before. I used to think that Ariana was crying deliberately, and that she was doing it to make me angry and to torment me. I really thought she didn’t like me and that it must be because I was a bad mother.
“Then at night when I was cuddling both Milo and Ariana I would start crying because I realised how great they were and I felt guilty that I was their mum, because I thought someone else could look after them better.
“Every single night I would cry, and most nights I would be crying myself to sleep – but I was the only person that knew this.
“I would constantly be thinking about the few weeks before Ariana was born and her actual birth which made me so sad and helpless to think about it.
“I had a horrible time during labour and delivery with Ariana and I couldn’t get it out of my head at all. I rarely went out the house – especially by myself.
“I would sit inside all day because I didn’t want to bump into anyone I knew as I didn’t want them to ask how I was getting on. My anxiety was constantly through the roof.
“One night I was going to pick my partner up from work. I had Ariana in the back of the car and Milo was at home with my parents.
“I was tired, I had been crying in the car and I saw a brick wall in front of me; I remember wanting to drive into the wall, and having the urge to do it, but then I caught a glimpse of Ariana in my mirror and I couldn’t let her get hurt.
“I didn’t want to die, I just wanted to have a break. After that incident I realised I needed to speak to someone about the way I was feeling and so I turned to my health visitor.
“She explained postnatal depression to me and talked about medication etc. On top of all these feelings I also realised that I wasn’t taking care of myself.”
PPD is a problem which impacts over one in every 10 women within a year of giving birth.
If it is nipped in the bud early, women can make a full recovery and Seanee says due to her PPD, she felt that she missed out on bonding with her youngest.
“I felt like a bad mum because I felt defeated. I hated being a parent for a while and wished that I wasn’t,” she said.
“I was so overwhelmed with everything that I just felt like I had made such a mistake having children and that I was failing miserably at it.
“I just didn’t want anyone to know or think that I was struggling. I’ve always felt that because I’m a young mum all my parenting decisions are second-guessed by others.
“I thought that if people knew I was struggling that I would hear, ‘That’s why you don’t have kids young’, ‘That’s what happens when kids have kids’ etc.
“I feel much better than before. I know that I am and always have been a good mum. However, I know that I’m not one-hundred percent better yet and I have been advised that I will probably be on anti-depressants until next spring.
“I also feel that because of the PPD I missed out on bonding time with Ariana. I liked the idea of being able to share parts of my life with other people.
“While there can be a lot of negativity with social media, I believe there is also so many positives too. The response I received from my Instagram post about PPD was amazing, and I genuinely felt that people cared.
“It’s such a great platform to meet and interact with other people, especially parents. I’ve had other women tell me about their experience with PPD. Everyone has been sympathetic and given positive comments.
“My Instagram pictures are a little glimpse of the chaos and craziness of mummy life. Like most accounts we share all the positive moments of our life, but I like to share more of the ‘real’ moments too.
“You’ll see the adorable photo of Milo smiling but you don’t see me having to promise him a pack of sweets to stand there and smile for me.
“I think people appreciate the honesty and vulnerability of sharing those true moments. If you’ve had a hard day it can be quite reassuring to see that other people aren’t perfect too and can make you feel a bit more ‘normal’.
“PPD is definitely still a taboo subject and I think so is every subject that involved struggle as there is such a pressure to be the ‘perfect mum’ that women don’t want to admit that sometimes.
“Promoting the ‘it’s ok not be ok’ message is how I’d like to help change this. Letting people understand that life isn’t always a filtered picture on Instagram; it is tears, tantrums and everything in between.
“Nothing in life is permanent, everything is a phase. Even if you feel as though you are at rock bottom, that means the only way is up.
“Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. Do what makes you happy. Being a mum is the hardest job you could ever do, so be proud of yourself every single day.”