Mental health takeover: “I began thinking she’d been changed at the hospital” - Norfolk charity founder discusses what it’s like to live with post-natal depression
- Credit: Archant
Becoming a mother.
It can be the most exciting and terrifying moment of a person's life.
However, most mums-to-be go into the experience hoping that once the birth is over only happy days will follow. Sadly, sometimes the opposite can actually be true, as a Norfolk mum who suffered post-natal depression and is now giving something back, knows only too well.
Three years ago, already mother-of-one Naomi Farrow, gave birth to twin daughters Erin and Tess.
Having only expected to have one child, Mrs Farrow immediately began to struggle with having had two.
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She said: 'I instantly connected with one of my daughters, and because I'd only expected one I felt like the other wasn't mine.
'I convinced myself she wasn't. She looked different to her twin sister, who looked more like me and I began thinking that she wasn't my daughter, there had been a mix up, she'd been changed at the hospital.'
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Mrs Farrow, now 32, began to feel increasingly isolated as she spent more time at home with her twins and her daughter Fern, who at the time was three.
She explained: 'The moment I realised I needed help was when both the twins were in their bouncers at about four months old and they were both screaming and crying.
'And I just couldn't handle it. I left the room and went into my bedroom and closed the door and just broke down.
'I composed myself after about five minutes and opened the door and watched my then three-year-old try to put dummies into the twins' mouths to stop them crying, like she'd seen me do.
'That was the point when I realised I needed help, because I could try and hide how I felt from my partner and my friends but this wasn't just affecting my life anymore, if my three-year-old child was trying to look after them.'
Mrs Farrow immediately contacted her GP and was put on medication having been told she was suffering with post-natal depression.
Mrs Farrow, who lives near Holt, said: 'I wouldn't have got the help I needed if that hadn't have happened in the first place. I did some research to find charities or support groups to help other women like myself and was shocked when I couldn't find anything.
'So I decided to start my own group on Facebook, just to see who else wanted to go out and meet up. Something I struggled with was getting out of the house and going to playgroup, because it was all so cliquey.'
Mrs Farrow began her group Get Me Out The 4 Walls, which has rapidly expanded to 3,900 members since starting in November, 2015.
In April 2016, Mrs Farrow took the step of turning a group into a charity, which focuses on three main areas.
She said: 'The first thing we do is preventative. This means the group is for any mums, whether they are suffering with a mental illness or not. The next thing is the post-natal depression groups, of which we have about 400 members. It's a place where these women can come and talk without being judged. A lot of women are scared if they speak they'll lose their children who will be taken away.
'The last thing is raising funds to help women in hospital suffering, or to get women the treatment they need within seven working days of being diagnosed. The NHS counselling service takes a long time, so we try and privately get women the help they need so they're on their way.'
Looking back on her journey, Mrs Farrow said: 'I'll tell my girls about my illness. And I'll tell my daughter how I struggled when she's old enough to understand and that it was not because I didn't love her, but because I was ill.
'I want my girls to grow up knowing there are people less fortunate than them, to help them if they can, and to know that if they ever needed this help, it's there.'
To find about more about Get Me Out The 4 Walls, visit their Facebook page.