By Jess Caire
Conversations with Dinah Crowe
You may already know our fellow Adelady, Dinah Crowe – she is the one cooking up the delights and making us drool on “What’s for Dinah”. What you might not know about Dinah, is her battle with Post Natal Depression. Dinah has recently shared with us her struggles, how she is overcoming it, and why you SHOULD talk about it.
You’ve got three little boys (all under 8!), when was your first experience with PND? And how did you know it was more than just ‘the blues’?
It was when Charlie, my first bub, was around 7 months old. He was sleeping well and responding perfectly to my routine, YET I was always teary, feeling really flat with not much confidence. This is when my husband spoke to me and suggested I went to see a Doctor.
After you realised you needed help, what did you do – who did you go to see?
I went straight to my GP and, after talking at length about my symptoms, I was prescribed Zoloft 50mg. This was a massive game changer for me! Once it had settled I felt normal again and I could finally be the mum I wanted to be.
Knowing the signs meant I got onto it a lot sooner with my 2nd and 3rd child which was good – I was much worse with each one of the kids. That surprised me a lot as I thought after Charlie, and knowing some of the triggers (difficulty feeding, mastitis), that if I overcame those problems I’d be OK – but I wasn’t. Thankfully within the first 2 weeks of our 2nd bub, Cooper, my husband sent me off to the Doctor. Then with our 3rd Max I called my husband home one day after having a complete breakdown – I’m glad I did as it spiralled so quickly this time it was really scary.
So, 9 years later I’m still on Zoloft. I did try in the past year to go off Zoloft after a lifestyle change, but it didn’t work for me. If one tablet, a healthy diet and regular exercise is the only thing I need to keep me balanced then so be it. I just make sure I have regular check ups with my GP to check that I’m healthy and she’s happy with how things are. I don’t feel guilty for ‘ME’ time. It’s so important and plays a huge role in me feeling good and level headed.
Were the resources you needed readily available to you?
Once I spoke up, yes. But initially I had no idea where to go, who to see or what to say. Looking back, I find this so frustrating. During all of the prenatal classes there was not one mention about PND and what to look out for.
With my first baby, I really struggled, and when my second one came along it hit me for a curve ball all over again. 10 months later I finally had the breakthrough (I wish SO much now that I had gotten help sooner)… I still regret that I wasn’t the mum I thought I would be.
What are some things you’ve learned about being a mum, partner, and business owner over the last few years while battling with PND?
Don’t feel guilty for ‘you’ time. My husband and I also do the odd weekend or trip away from the kids. Like, I LOVE my kids like nothing else but it’s a hard gig!! Whether you have 1 kid or 6 kids – we all need a break and time to reconnect as a couple. Something else I’m still working on is learning to say ‘no’. We’re mums, not bloody superwomen!
I was reading the Beyond Blue website, and it is staggering to learn that one in seven women (so around 16%) suffer from PND, and yet people seem so loathe to talk about it. With stats this high we all know SOMEONE who is suffering, so why do you think people feel it is still so taboo to talk about?
One of the best things that happened to us was when I told my then boss I was pregnant and my husband happened to be there at the time. He sat us down and openly talked to us about his wife’s struggle with PND and the signs to look out for. This was a saving grace for us, as all through the pre-natal classes not one thing was mentioned about PND. So if it wasn’t for him, I’m not sure I would have made it to the Doctor as early as I did.
From this, I felt I needed to talk and make people aware of the signs and symptoms of PND, in particular to my friends who were having babies. So they, too, could know early on if they needed the extra help.
You are pretty open about the struggles you have faced (which is so great, and I suspect gives a great deal of comfort to many mums out there), has discussing it openly been part of the recovery process for you?
For me, I find talking about it a form of therapy. Not only am I hopefully helping others, but I’m getting things off my chest. The more I stew on things, the more it manifests into something bigger. And for those who know me, I really TALK…… about anything! I keep it real. People know I’ve forgotten to pick my son up from kindy. People heard about my sore boobs when trying to breastfeed. People heard, detail by detail, of my breakdowns. It helps. Plus we are here on this earth to support, not to criticise and be in competition with. Every mother’s journey is an individual one. Let it be that, and be there for each other. Let’s make this motherhood gig easier – not harder.
Lastly Dinah, to the mums at home reading this, who think they (or a friend) may be struggling, what advice do you give them?
Speak to your husband or partner. Speak to your friends. Go and see your Doctor. It is NOTHING to be ashamed about. It’s a hormonal imbalance. It doesn’t mean you’re a shit mum doing a crappy job. It means you need to correct those hormones to help make your life feel more balanced. It may be a tablet, it may be seeing a psychologist. It may be as simple as doing more exercise. What ever it is, deal with it. It’s one of life’s hurdles. It’ll make you stronger and feel more empowered. Sometimes, to be happy, we need to stop and put ourselves first for once. After all, a happy mum means a happy bub and happy family.
Thank you so much, Dinah, for sharing such a personal experience with us.
Join the conversation by commenting below!
Love, Jess x