Age at interview: 33
Background: Chelsea is married. She has a son, aged 2. Chelsea lives in a large city and is a trade marketing specialist. She is from an Anglo-Australian background.
Chelsea was diagnosed with postnatal anxiety and depression by her psychologist and was admitted to a Mother and Baby Unit for one month. Chelsea felt 'confronted' by being in hospital, however believed that it helped her. She was prescribed antidepressants (sertraline (ZOLOFT)) and anxiety medication (quetiapine (SEROQUEL)) and is currently reducing her dosage of quetiapine.
More about Chelsea
Before becoming parents, Chelsea and her husband enjoyed travelling and being 'independent'. Chelsea initially felt that she didn't want to have children, however she changed her mind and became pregnant four years after getting married.
Chelsea was sick during pregnancy, and now reflects that this was due to stress and anxiety. She also had a low-lying placenta which she said added further stress. Chelsea experienced a long and painful labour. She remembers being 'exhausted' in the early stages of parenthood, particularly as she had trouble breastfeeding and her son was slow to gain weight.
Before having a baby Chelsea said she had expected a child would 'slot into' her world, and so the reality of the change in lifestyle was a 'big shock to the system'. Chelsea described feeling 'overwhelmed' and anxious all the time, particularly about her baby's health, and acting erratically. She couldn't focus on anything, was 'teary and sensitive', and sleep-deprived. Neither she nor her husband had the energy to keep 'on top of things' and because their families did not live nearby they had limited extra support.
Due to financial pressures, Chelsea went back to work when her baby was five months. However, she was feeling increasingly unwell. Chelsea said her anxiety manifested in constant vomiting, a feeling of tension in her wrists, and 'intrusive thoughts'. Sensing she was not coping, she reconnected with a psychologist she had seen a few years earlier.
Chelsea described feeling that she was 'unravelling'. She said one afternoon 'it all became too much' and, feeling 'suffocated', she left her baby at home with her husband and went to the beach and cried. Chelsea phoned her psychologist who suggested she was suffering from postnatal anxiety and depression, and referred her to a Mother and Baby Unit.
Chelsea recalled feeling 'very confronted' by being in hospital with her son. They stayed there for one month, and while she felt it was 'scary' and stressful' she also acknowledged that it taught her 'how to cope'. She was able to sleep again and felt she was gaining control back. Stopping vomiting was a 'huge turning point'. Chelsea learned how to relax and be 'in the moment' with her son. She was prescribed sertraline (ZOLOFT) and quetiapine (SEROQUEL) for anxiety and depression, and is currently reducing her dosage of quetiapine.
Chelsea thinks that she and her husband underestimated the need to have support networks in place. She also says that having a child can 'make or break' a relationship, but feels very lucky that her husband has been supportive. She thinks they now have some structure back in their life. While Chelsea feels that the future is 'positive', at the moment she thinks only about 'the now' and takes things step-by-step. She says it's been helpful to learn that bad times 'will pass'.
Chelsea advises women to be open about their feelings. She also recommends that women access a mothers group, because she found this to be a very beneficial and supportive environment.