Age at interview: 29
Background: Maree and her partner have two children, a three-year-old girl and one-year-old boy. They live in a regional town in Australia. Maree is a stay-at-home parent and comes from an Anglo-Australian background.
Maree experienced depression in her late teens and early twenties, which returned when she was pregnant with her second child. She sought help from her midwife and GP and was diagnosed with antenatal depression. Maree found counselling, online forums and supporting other local mothers helpful.
More about Maree
Maree experienced depression in her late teens and early twenties stemming from challenges in her relationships with her parents and younger sibling while she was growing up. She saw a counsellor during this period but felt he blamed her for her feelings, which made things worse.
When Maree was 23, her father died unexpectedly. This was very difficult as he was the 'communicator' in their family. After his death, Maree travelled overseas where she met her partner. She said being able to talk to him helped her 'get over' her depression. They moved back to Australia together and settled in a regional town.
Maree and her partner 'didn't really plan' to get pregnant but as soon as they stopped using contraception they conceived. Maree felt that they 'fumbled' their way through the pregnancy and did not receive any continuity of care from the local hospital. She said her birth plan 'went out the window' when her labour was induced. Not having done much research into birth, Maree didn't know what to expect. Once the induction started, she said it was 'the worst thing ever'. After 36 hours in labour, Maree's daughter was born.
Maree said becoming a parent helped her to meet people locally, and she also found support online. Having been made redundant during her pregnancy, she had expected to look for a new job after having her daughter. To her surprise, Maree found she enjoyed being at home and decided not to return to paid work.
Before long, Maree and her partner started trying for another baby. However during her second pregnancy, Maree began feeling 'emotionless' and 'numb' and as though she wasn't appreciating her daughter enough. Thoughts about her family being 'better off' without her were a 'big red signal' to go and talk to someone.
Maree's GP referred her to a clinic specialising in perinatal depression where she was diagnosed with antenatal depression. She began seeing a counsellor she connected well with. Maree found this helpful and her partner also received advice about how he could support her. Over time, she felt better but reserved some counselling sessions for after her baby's birth in case she experienced postnatal depression.
Maree described her son's birth as her 'healing birth' and worked hard to make sure her daughter felt included when her brother was born. Maree feels that further counselling would be helpful but 'finding the time when you have two little kids is hard'.
Maree spoke to her mother and some friends about her experiences of antenatal depression, but found very few people understood. Instead, she shared mostly with 'online friends' and concentrated on re-creating a 'village' for other mothers without family support. This was hard work but Maree said it has 'filled' her cup. She advises women experiencing antenatal depression to 'speak to someone', whether another mother or a GP. Maree thinks if she'd had a 'network of mums' to talk to, she might not have needed counselling.