I realised that it has been a while since I updated the world on my mental health – and the good news is that things are going well.
Unexpectedly, not long after our wonderful daughter was born, I got to learn first-hand about how dads can suffer from postnatal depression. You can read all about it here.
I was on medication for a little over three months, and that made a massive difference for me. In talking it through with my doctor, it seemed that the stress before the birth, and adjusting to life with a new baby had taken their toll on my brain chemistry. The medications helped to ease some of that back, and brought my mood back to the baseline.
With things going really well over a few months, in October I started the process of stepping down off the medication. You can’t just suddenly stop taking antidepressants, it is a bit of a process, and there are adjustments involved.
So with a plan put in place by my doctor, I’ve been off the meds for a few months now, and overall things are going well. I have become better at identifying when my anxiety is increasing or when my mood is headed in the wrong direction, and I am now able to mentally take a step back and assess what is happening, and what I can do to change it.
There are also some practical steps that I have taken. Now that I have access to my bike again, I’m getting back in the habit of cycling. And with our little baby waking up at the crack of dawn, I’m taking the opportunity sometimes to just take her out for a morning walk. As someone who works from home, these little breaks have certainly helped my mental health.
The other big thing has been the support that I have received from colleagues, friends, family and even complete strangers. So I want to say a massive THANK YOU to all those people who have been supporting me through this rough patch, however that has been.
I feel like I am living proof that depression and anxiety, if picked early and managed well, can be treated just like any other illness. I know that my case was mild and more related to the circumstances I was in, and so I don’t want to be trite about it, but I know that if I didn’t sit down and have a talk with my doctor about it, it could have progressed further.
So, again, I want to say to you that if you’re struggling with what’s going on in your mind, please get help, because it doesn’t have to be that way. And if you know somebody who is struggling, get alongside them and show your support. You may even save a life.