February 24th 2016
Mark, 41, had his first panic attack when his wife’s long labour ended with an emergency caesarean. The relief when their son was safely delivered was quickly replaced with worry when his wife became anxious and despondent.
“A switch went on in Michelle’s head. She was a totally different person.”
Michelle was diagnosed with postnatal depression. The couple became more and more isolated from their friends and work colleagues as they tried to cope with a new born baby and the diagnosis.
“I gave up work to look after my wife. She was a fantastic mother but in her mind she thought she couldn’t be. After five or six months I started to feel depressed myself and, for the first time in my life, I had suicidal thoughts.”
Mark uses his experiences to raise awareness of paternal mental health, particularly by speaking to fathers.
“I initially set out to support dads whose wives have postnatal depression. But I soon realised that dads are also suffering with anxiety, depression and PTSD from traumatic births.”
Cash raised through Sport Relief is helping to fund projects like the Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s Everyone’s Business campaign, which raises awareness and encourages conversation around maternal mental health.
If you have been affected by maternal mental health issues and would like more information on support and services please visit the Maternal Mental Health Alliance.