Name: Deb
Age at interview: 23
Gender: Female

Background: Deb is married with a son aged 3 and a daughter aged 1. She is from an Anglo-Australian background. Deb is a student and lives in a regional town.

About Deb

While Deb enjoys being a mother, she experienced postnatal depression and suicidal thoughts after the birth of her second child. She is taking antidepressant medication for postnatal depression and consults a psychiatrist she is happy with. Deb receives good support from her husband, mother and wider family. She thinks it is important that women talk about their experiences.

More about Deb

Deb became pregnant when she was 19, and married her partner three weeks before their baby was born.

Deb described having a 'natural birth' with her first child. She was criticised for breastfeeding her son in hospital and felt that she was expected by nurses to formula feed. At this time, Deb believed that what the nurses advised her was the 'golden rule' she needed to follow. She said that being a young mother, she hadn't learnt yet how to stand up for herself. Deb later found information about attachment parenting on the internet. She was excited to learn that her style of parenting 'had a name and that it was legitimate'.

Deb described having a 'really good postnatal period' with her son and said she and her husband 'couldn't wait' to have more children. They conceived again, however Deb experienced a miscarriage due to antiphospholipid syndrome. After receiving treatment she soon became pregnant again.

Although Deb's daughter was born quickly, she had a facial contusion and after the birth Deb needed three blood transfusions and a uterine balloon. This was a 'really tough' time and Deb felt she didn't get support from the nurses in hospital.

Deb described caring for her daughter as the 'complete opposite experience' to her son. She felt her bond with her daughter was impacted by her difficult recovery from the birth, and her daughter's frequent vomiting which made breastfeeding difficult.

Soon Deb found she had 'lost interest' in things she previously enjoyed and struggled to look after two children and do her university course. Her GP diagnosed her with postnatal depression and prescribed antidepressants (sertraline (ZOLOFT)). Deb felt 'really, really tired' while taking sertraline, which made everything 'a lot worse.' She felt 'suicidal' and 'robotic' and described 'isolating' herself socially. One night, feeling 'at a loss' and unable to 'function', Deb called Beyondblue and was referred to 'really helpful' mental health services in the next town.

After this Deb's GP referred her to a psychiatrist, who changed her medication to Reboxetine (EDRONAX). However, Deb was 'hypersensitive' to it and it made her 'shake'. The third medication she tried (Dothiep (DOTHEP)) has been better and Deb is now working with the psychiatrist to adjust her dosage.

Deb said over time she has learned to better 'handle' her 'mental health'. She feels 'really proud' she persisted with breastfeeding her daughter, as it helped their bonding as well as her own mental health. Deb has felt well supported by her 'level-headed' husband as well as her mother and an aunt with professional experience with maternal mental health. While she had a good GP and psychiatrist, Deb experienced difficulties accessing mental health support locally.

Deb and her husband enjoy parenting and are looking forward to the future. Deb said 'dealing with' her 'mental health' has meant having to 'learn to manage a new personality'. She feels it's important women talk to other women with similar experiences, and believes new parents should trust their instincts and be assertive in accessing healthcare.