Radio presenter shines spotlight on Post Natal Depression in new documentary
ASHAMED. Anxious. Allergic. Abnormal. Afraid.
There are many ways to verbalise the emotions experienced by some new mothers, but few elicit the journey quite like So Much More than the Baby Blues– an audio documentary on Post Natal Depression produced by Beat 102-103’s Shonagh Lyons.
Having brought her daughter Eve into the world on St. Stephen’s Day 2014, Shonagh wanted to feel what every mother felt – but didn’t.
What followed was a challenging journey; one of acceptance and understanding, or as Shonagh puts it, “learning how to breathe all over again”.
Appearances might be deceptive, but they find themselves to be king in a world fuelled by social media dependence. More than ever, mothers-to-be are expected to have perfect deliveries, perfect babies and perfect lives as they hashtag their way towards a maternal utopia.
In Ireland, 60% of women struggle in some shape or form after childbirth, with a further 11% going on to develop some form of anxiety, depression or psychosis. Post Natal Depression (PND) falls under this very umbrella.
As Shonagh’s documentary reveals through both her own and others’ accounts, PND is so much more than just the baby blues.
Delicately contrasting darkness with hope, Shonagh’s profound first-hand experience is threaded with that of Lisa and Amy’s – two Wexford mums who also went through PND.
“It’s misunderstood”, says Shonagh as she puts the finishing touches to what has become a labour of love. “And if it’s misunderstood it’s not spoken about. There’s an absolute lack of awareness right now.”
Working on the documentary proved to be a journey of personal discovery, one which revealed Shonagh wasn’t alone.
A desire to hide, discard, and even die were all unifying emotions that the mothers who Shonagh spoke with shared. Above all, however, was the fear of being judged for suffering from an array of instincts that seemed to have no name or place for a mother during a period often labelled the happiest time of adulthood.
Thankfully for Shonagh, and the other mothers who featured, there was a turning point.
“I was in the bedroom with Eve. I tickled her. She laughed. I always thought she didn’t laugh that much but seeing her face light up formed this instant bond, a connection. However, the second she stopped smiling, that feeling evaporated. That’s when I decided to visit my GP.”
Several successful sessions of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy followed.
Just like the symptoms of PND, the prognosis is often ubiquitous: “From there, an inconvenience turned into a blessing”, affirms Shonagh – a transformation shared with the other mothers spoken to at the support group.
Despite positive outcomes for those featured, more needs to be done. Today there is just one dedicated support group in the Republic that caters for mothers with PND – Cork’s Post Natal Depression Ireland. Meanwhile, Wexford is the only county in the process of employing a dedicated specialist mental health midwife.
“We need to open-up our conversations, remove the myths and the stigma,” adds Shonagh. “There is a huge amount of guilt associated with PND and it’s vital that women are given the support they need to overcome it.”
It took almost three years for Shonagh to get back to her old self. Today, she shares an unbreakable bond with Eve and an enviable ambition to succeed. In her own words: “I had PND. I don’t have it anymore.”
Shonagh’s documentary aired on Beat 102-103’s The Sunday Grill at 10am today, but you can listen back to it on Beat102103.com.
To contact Postnatal Depression Ireland, call 021-4922083 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Samaritans’ 24-hour freephone helpline is at 116-123; you can also message 087-2609090 (standard text rates apply) or email email@example.com in the Republic or firstname.lastname@example.org in Northern Ireland.