Georgina Baker, Clinic Manager at the Bupa Bristol Health Centre, shares her experience with postnatal depression and how opening up about her struggles has helped put her on the road to good health.
“Raising awareness of mental health is so important and today on World Mental Health Day, I want to tell anyone who is struggling that it’s OK, you’re not the only one.
After having my beautiful twin babies I was diagnosed with postnatal depression. It was the happiest time of my life, darkened by the worst days of my life.
After constantly trying to put on a brave face, I faced up to the fact that I wasn’t feeling OK. With the help of my best friend and my family I finally recognised that my “blue days” were becoming blue weeks. I plucked up the courage to speak to my doctor who bombarded me with questions that frightened me. The words “do you want to harm your babies?” went echoing through my head.... absolutely not! I was overwhelmed with the love I had for them and overwhelmed by the journey I had been on to get them.
I carried on trying to hide how I was feeling. Putting on a brave face. Until, finally, I went back and saw a different doctor. I felt comfortable, I didn’t have to say a lot, she knew exactly what was happening. I built up a fantastic relationship with her and began my road to getting stronger.
When I talked about it to friends and family - some understood, some avoided it like the plague, while some looked shocked that I was being so open about postnatal depression. I soon realised that it was a lack of understanding about mental health that gave mixed reactions, and that’s OK.
I learnt that it’s OK to talk, it’s OK to expect different reactions and it’s OK for people to not understand what you are going through.
Education is key with mental health. The most important thing is talking and listening. As the manager of the Bupa Bristol Health Clinic, I encourage an open and supportive environment, where my team know they can speak to me about their mental health, like they would if they had a physical illness. Creating an environment where it’s OK to talk about mental health goes a long way in reducing the stigma and encourages people to speak up and seek help when they’re struggling. My team were there for me when I was battling postnatal depression, and I’m definitely there for them, if they struggle with their mental health.
We always get told to put on a brave face - the keep calm and carry on mentality - but the hardest thing that you can do is take off your brave face and begin your journey.
Talking was the best thing that I did and I encourage others who are struggling to do the same.”