Hello, my name is Ko Hsin Illingworth,
and I suffer from postnatal depression.
Recently, I have been going to the National Childcare Trust baby group. They have a fantastic campaign which is called Hidden Half for mothers with mental health problems. I have had postnatal depression since my baby was born on 11 August, 2016. I had fantastic specialist care at Bradford Royal Infirmary, and my daughter was born by C-section. She means the world to me. I had been praying for a baby for a year. The truth is I had never imagined myself being a mother. Before I had a child, I hated the sound of a baby crying, and I don't like to play with kids. Once I knew I was pregnant my thinking changed.
In Taiwan I was a journalist. In this country I am a professional Mandarin interpreter. I was determined to make a career in the UK. Then I got pregnant. Despite cramps in my legs and high blood pressure, I remained determined to work in the Court room as an interpreter.
I began my maternity leave in July 2016. I was heavily pregnant, and the judge was kind. She offered me her chair, and allowed me breaks between witnesses.
My baby was due on 11 August, but I had lots of bleeding on the 10th, and ended up going into hospital. I passed out on the operating table. It was my husband who first held our daughter when she was born. Soon afterwards, she was laid on my shoulder. I was so out of it that I thought, "What is this?"
Our daughter was small and tiny. She weighed only five pounds, but the specialist said she was perfectly formed. That touched my heart. Such a beautiful baby, who was a present from God, and a blessing. We called her Hannah, because Hannah in Hebrew means 'precious', and she is so precious to me and my family.
During the recovery from the C-section I continued to lose a lot of blood, and I couldn't get out of bed. I couldn't work. I felt terrible that I could not leave the house. But exactly a month after Hannah was born - 11th of September 2016 (I remember the date perfectly) - I went back to work at Crown Court. It was a big case.
I asked God to give me strength, because I knew deep down I couldn't cope with Hannah 24 hours a day. I found a child minder to look after her. I took Hannah to the child minder every day at seven-thirty in the morning so that I would be at Crown Court on time. I took pain-killers in the breaks, but I found it hard. I already knew that I had post-natal depression, and I was trying to cope day-by-day.
When I saw Hannah I was so scared to deal with her. People spoke to me and kept asking: How is Hannah? Is she pooing okay? Is she eating? Does Hannah have enough attention and clothes on? These simple questions drove me crazy, because no one asked me if I was okay.
I recall telling one of my best friends, an Arabic interpreter, "You are Ko Hsin's friend. You should ask how I am instead of how is Hannah all the time."
At last I went to see the doctor, who confirmed I had post-natal depression. I decided not to take anti-depressants, because I wanted to survive by will power and strength. With my group of Christian friends, I prayed every day to ask God to help me.
I can honestly say that I have worked hard at being a mother. As a first-time mother I have gone from being scared of dealing with Hannah, to being able to cope for many hours with her on my own.
Post-natal depression is a struggle. I don't see it as an illness. It is something every woman has to be able to identify. As soon as you realise that you have post-natal depression: do something. Talk to your good friends. I talk to my godmother, and I pray. I asked for help. It is no shame to ask for help, because we are human beings, and after that big operation, after I had been cut open, my life changed so much. I couldn't imagine myself without Hannah now. I love my daughter dearly. However, I still feel that I have post-natal depression, and I need to find that balance of how to be happy.
I think only a happy mother can have a happy child. I think a depressed mother will affect her child's mood, and it is so important to find that balance between motherhood and happiness. I am still trying. I have complicated feelings. I am so grateful, and I thank God for Hannah. However, sometimes I am really sick of looking after Hannah, and I feel I cannot complain, because she is a lovely child. I think, honestly, I am still struggling with postnatal depression, but I am carrying on my life as I need to. I am grateful to my many friends for their help and love. All I can say to the mothers, whoever you are, is, "Please talk to someone regarding any feelings of depression you have, because it is important to recognise if you need help, and to do something about it."
It has been a long day for me, but I decided to write this down. I want to be part of this campaign called Hidden Half. It is so important to recognise a condition such as post-natal depression. For me, it is an on-going struggle. I am so much better now than when I was first suffering from PND, but I still need breathing space.
Thank you very much for listening.
Author: Ko Hsin Illingworth ©. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Editor: Helen Gavaghan. This article was published on this website by Helen Gavaghan on 21st November, 2017. Contact the author directly for information about other locations on which she has requested a version of this article be published.
Click here to access The National Chilcare Trust: Parenting and Postnatal depression