REAL LIFE

Dad’s battle with post-natal depression

He didn't even know fathers were also at risk.

Robert Read, 28, Christchurch, NZ

Standing on the decking in my backyard, I thought about my life.

Earlier that night, I’d ordered a takeaway pizza. When it arrived, I took out a knife to slice it. But something inside me snapped. Holding the knife, I went out and stood on my back deck.I’d been feeling low for a while, since my gorgeous seven-month-old baby boy, Slade, was born.

I’d been feeling low for a while, since my gorgeous seven-month-old baby boy, Slade, was born. Although I’d always wanted to be a dad, I’d had trouble feeling close to him. The recent split with Slade’s mum only added to my sense of despair. Now, I felt completely hopeless. I had no idea that being a father could change my mindset so much.

‘Nobody cares about me,’ I said to myself.I stood there for hours, mulling things over.

I stood there for hours, mulling things over. Then, out of the blue, my friend Mike appeared. He’d sent me a text but I hadn’t replied, so he’d decided to drop by to check on me.

‘Rob, please don’t do this!’ he pleaded.

After what seemed like an eternity, Mike calmed me down and took me to hospital.

‘You have postnatal depression,’ the doctor said.

I was stunned. I’d heard of new mums suffering from postnatal depression, but I hadn’t dreamed it could affect me. But I learned 10  per cent of men experience some form of depression during their partner’s pregnancy or after the birth.

The hospital gave me pills and told me to come back in two months if I still wasn’t coping. I felt lost. Thankfully, Mike stepped in and ensured my family knew I was mentally ill. I then moved back in with my parents – who were a fantastic support – and sought proper counselling.

As I overcame my depression, I finally bonded properly with my little boy. I now shudder to think how close I came to leaving him without a dad.

Three years on, I’m fully recovered. I’ve even set up a page on Facebook called Suicide Awareness/Prevention to help others who may be considering taking their life. I feel there’s not enough support out there for people in the position I was in. We have thousands of followers and I’m proud my team and I are making a difference.

I don’t want anyone to feel as alone as I once did.

DEPRESSION

While more common in women, around one in 10 men experience it during a partner’s pregnancy or after the baby is born.

Symptoms include sadness and irritability, feelings of guilt, mood swings, tiredness, trouble sleeping, low libido and weight changes.

If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline  AUS: 13 11 14 or NZ:  0800 543 354

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